Welcome to the New Year! Did you make any resolutions? My family and I have resolved to return to China before the end of this year or early next! How about you? I trust you haven't had to re-resolve to read the Bible as close to daily as possible. As you come across verses that seem significant to you, consider memorizing them and reviewing them over the following weeks and months until they are a part of the fabric of your thinking.
Were you able to take advantage of the Christmas holidays to share Christ with friends or family who are normally less open to hearing? Now that we're well into the New Year, keep an eye out for new friends you can make, with whom to share the Gospel. Keep the Bridge Illustration (Bad News, Good News and Our Response) fresh and make the most of every opportunity the Lord brings your way. We trust in no time the Lord will give you fruit, if He hasn't already.
Which brings us back to the topic at hand: Follow-up. I shared some of the principles and practices that guide our plans for a first follow-up meeting in my last post. What next?
I introduced our Studies in the Gospel of John follow-up Bible study in the previous post. It's a basic introduction to the foundations of our faith: the Gospel (Lesson One), God's Love and Protection of Believers (Lesson Two), the Bible as our reliable source of all we know about God (Lesson Three) and an introduction to Christian Living (Lesson Four). If you follow our method, you would have studied the first lesson with your new Timothy during your first follow-up meeting. The remaining lessons are studied in successive meetings.
Remember, especially if your new Timothy has never seen a Bible before, do the Bible study together with him or her, helping your student find the verses. Have them answer the questions in their own words after reading and understanding the indicated verses. Try not to answer for them. Help them see that the Bible is not a difficult book to understand, not in these basics, anyway. Teach them to trust and believe the plain and simple meaning of every verse. In time, as you equip them with the proper tools, they'll be able to dig deeper and find for themselves greater treasures than these surface jewels. But whatever you do, don't force-feed spiritual meat to a spiritual infant until he or she has first mastered spiritual milk; otherwise, your student may end up with a strong reaction against such truths.
But it won't be long before you begin to provide those tools they'll need to go deeper, if you follow our method. Indeed, we usually begin that training as soon as they finish these four lessons in the Gospel of John.
At the same time, with each lesson, it is my practice to review the Bridge Illustration. At the first follow-up meeting, I recommended doing so by leading your new Timothy through the various points of the Bridge in order in a question-and-answer style. But beginning with the second follow-up meeting, I ask my students to draw out as much as they can remember. They don't need to explain the Bridge to me, just draw out as much of the illustration as they can as close to the order I originally gave it to them. When they finish, then I'll go back over it with them, filling in anything they missed. This is an assurance for them, helping them cement in their own minds what is needed for Salvation, and where they stand in that illustration. But it is also laying a foundation for their future spiritual reproduction. In no time, they'll be confident enough to draw out the illustration, that adding the explanation will be a simple thing.
In addition to the Bridge review and Bible study, we also continue to provide them "assurance" verses to memorize, one each week. And every week, I ask my students to repeat from memory all previous verses I've asked them to memorize. As with the Bridge, the more they review, the more surely they have them. After the Assurance of Salvation (John 5:24), we teach the Assurance of Victory, the Assurance of Forgiveness and the Assurance of Answered Prayer. To go with the fourth lesson in the Gospel of John series, we also challenge them to learn a verse on the importance of Fellowship.
If you encouraged your student to memorize John 5:24 after first leading him or her to Christ, then their only homework from your first follow-up meeting should be to memorize 1Corinthians 10:13, the Assurance of Victory. What we have here is a promise from God to make all provision so that we never have to give into sin again. We're assured that we'll never face a temptation that no one else has ever faced—including Jesus! There's no room for "But you just don't understand." We're also assured that no matter what temptation we face, it'll never be stronger than what we're able to endure and resist; God makes sure of that. Even more, God promises to provide a way of escape whenever we face temptation: It may be a literal door to flee through, it may be a friend who suddenly shows up, or it may be some truth or legitimate reason ("excuse") to reject the temptation.
Of course, especially as we're young in the faith and unfamiliar with this new life in Christ and all the resources God gives us, it's easy to fall back into old patterns and sins. So what then? Are we lost? Has God rejected us? Satan certainly would love for us to believe that! But our salvation never depended on anything we did or didn't do; it forever depends on Christ and His righteous, His death and resurrection on our behalf. When we accepted that as payment for our sins, all our sins were forgiven and wiped out. All our sins, past, present and future, were paid for! But as we continue on in this life, we will stumble and fall into sin—what do we do then? At our second follow-up meeting, we introduce 1John 1:9, the Assurance of Forgiveness, and encourage our student to confess his or her new sin to God and receive His forgiveness and cleansing on the basis of that verse. That's their memorization homework for the second lesson.
At the third follow-up meeting, when we're studying the trustworthiness of God's word, we teach them the Assurance of Answered Prayer, John 16:24. They need to know that not only can they believe everything God has told them through the Bible, but they too can communicate directly with God. And God will hear their prayer, though He may not answer it exactly as they hoped. Still they can trust that He's always looking out for what is best for them; He is not silent or deaf to our pleas. He is in fact concerned about our joy! This meeting will lay a foundation for later lessons in the Timothy Principle on both how to get the Word into our lives and how and what to pray.
The final lesson of our basic follow-up course deals with how to live as a Christian. As a basic follow-up course, it only introduces foundational concepts and practices. There's so much more detail yet to be discovered as they learn to read, study and put into practice their Bibles. Part of living as a Christian is living as a member of a community of Believers, or as the Bible puts it: a member of the body of Christ. No Christian exists in isolation; we are meant to be attached to and to do our part for a local body of Believers. That's where Hebrews 10:24-25, Fellowship, comes in. Their place in the body of Christ is not as a spectator, but an active participant—more and more as they grow in their understanding and application of the Word of God.
Remember always to pray together with them, but keep the "meeting" time to an hour or less. You may feel like they're so hungry and eager to learn, or there's so much they need to know to protect them. But leaving them a little hungry gives them a desire to come back for more. And it'll take you months and years before they really understand and are equipped to stand against all the attacks of the enemy. God knows their weakness and will go easy on them, as surely as a father and mother protect for their newborn babe. As mentioned before, you don't take a newborn to the local buffet bar to feast. But feel free to take your student to a local buffet bar for your study time and/or somewhere else fun afterward for some relationship-building or take him or her with you to minister into the life of another person, especially one who still needs to hear about Jesus!
When you finish these lessons in the Gospel of John or some other introductory Bible study, your "Timothy" will be ready for proper Timothy Training!
The Christian life is lived on two planes: A vertical plane that describes our ever growing relationship with God, from whom we receive wisdom, strength, direction and encouragement; and a horizontal plane among our fellow men, to whom it is our great privilege to serve through both word and deed. Are you getting to know God better through the revelation of Himself we call the Bible? Are you investing that same love and wisdom you have received from God into the lives of those around you? It's January, a time of resolutions—a great time to evaluate how we're doing in our walk with Christ and to make any necessary changes.
- Gospel of John Bible Studies - Four lessons on Salvation, Assurance, The Word, and Christian Living that can be used either as evangelistic Bible studies or as basic follow-up studies for new believers.
- The Bridge Illustration - A clear and complete explanation of the only way man can be reconciled with God
- Prayer Pages - A tool to help keep track of and manage prayer needs.
- Personal Reading Record - A tool to help you keep track of where you've read and where to read next
- Bible Reading Highlights Record - A tool to help you record your thoughts and applications when you read the Word
- The Timothy Training Workbook - A printable (front & back) discipleship notebook written by veteran Navigator missionary and founder of Training Evangelistic Leadership, Roy Robertson
Courtesy of Roy Robertson and Training Evangelistic Leadership