2 Tim 2:15 - Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)
I love the small group ministry.

Whatever you call it at your church, Cell Group, Carecell, LifeGroup (at my church) or whatever, it's a great way for the people in your church to bond together and build genuine Christian fellowship, as well as to grow in the Word of God.

And growing in the Word of God through a small group ministry is very simple. You don't have to discuss deep stuff or seek out special materials for Bible study; you just need to pay attention during that week's sermon, take good notes, think through the sermon again before the meeting and discuss the sermon with the rest of the people there. That means you'd be exposed to the sermon four times rather than the usual one time. And that helps a lot in retaining the message!

What if you are the one leading the discussion? That's also easy too. If people only talk about what was covered in the sermon, you don't need to do a lot of extra work. And if they ask about stuff that wasn't covered in the sermon or you haven't learned about, you just need to say "I'm not too sure about that. Let me bring it up with the pastor and I'll get back to you?"

You can't get any simpler than that, right?

A problem arises, however, if you are the one leading the discussion, a difficult topic comes up and you feel the need to answer the question even if you don't have enough understanding from the Bible to answer it.

I've seen people doing that. They can't stand saying "I don't know", so they have to squeeze out of themselves some answer somehow or other. And the easiest way to do that is to reduce the question to one of their pet topics, such as love, righteousness, faith, the blood of Christ or something like that, even if it isn’t relevant to the question.

Let me be blunt here: if you can't take saying you don't know and want to give answers to Bible questions in your small group meeting, then put in the necessary work to actually give good answers. And that means beginning that life-long journey of growing in God's Word, to know the whole counsel of God, rather than just your 2-3 favorite pet topics. Become a believer of the Word, rather than just a believer of your favorite parts of the Word!

If you are new to studying the Word of God by yourself, you can start by reading a chapter of the Bible every day. Read it aloud to yourself, and go back to the chapters you have read for the two days before that too. That way you will read three chapters daily, and one will be new to you. If you are involved in the worship ministry, studying the Book of Psalms is a must. Put that as a priority above going for the next overseas worship conference or reading some worship devotional book.

It will be a life-long journey, and it can get frustrating at times.

It takes time and effort to get familiar with a book of the Bible to the point when you can use it, and the reason why some people end up as pet-topic teachers is because they don't feel that they can learn the Bible even if they put in effort. Or they don't want to put in the necessary work.


So what happens? They may look for other teachers and just swallow wholesale the teaching and Bible interpretations of those teachers. That's fine if you have enough understanding of the Bible to discern and evaluate Scripturally the teachings they bring you, whether through online sermons, books, teaching CDs or even commentaries. But if you don't, you are in danger of exchanging your own errors for the errors of others.

And an error, even if held with all sincerity, is still an error!

I remember one day I was reading a teaching by a popular preacher.

Mark 11:23 (NKJV) - For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

The preacher claimed that this verse meant that when we face challenges in life, we are to take authority over them and speak to them, commanding them to get out of our lives in the name of Jesus. He also claimed that Jesus appeared to him in a vision and said that NEVER in the New Testament were believers told to pray to God about their problems. They were to exercise their God-given authority over their problems.

How interesting. When I first read that, all it took was a second to remember the Lord's prayer (Matt 6:9-13) where Jesus told us to pray to God to deliver us from the evil one (vs 13). There is also an example from David in Psalm 6, where we find David speaking to his problems (vs 8) as well as praying to the LORD about them (vs 4).

So we can see that what he claimed Jesus spoke to him in a vision was not true. All it took was just a passing familiarity with the Bible to keep this error from sinking its roots into my mind. Not too difficult, was it? Of course, there will be other doctrines which will be more difficult to evaluate. One way to help us evaluate teachings – ask yourself if the teaching is what the Bible actually says or what someone else says it means.

For example, in Exodus 12:32 we read that Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron to take the Israelites and leave Egypt, and also to bless him. That is a direct statement of Scripture. If someone claims that Pharaoh was thus trying to obtain blessings that are not rightfully his, since blessing is only for those with a covenant with God, now that is an interpretation. We evaluate this interpretation by asking:

  1. Is this idea directly stated in the Bible? If it is, are there any other verses that balance it out or give another perspective?

  2. If it is an interpretation, are there other verses that support that interpretation? And, more importantly, are there verses that do not support that interpretation?

  3. If that interpretation is accurate, how much do you need to re-look other beliefs and opinions that you already hold?

And if you come from a Word-of-Faith background, you need to be especially strict with your Scripture interpretation. Because, speaking frankly, we from the Word-of-Faith movement have more than our fair share of false teachers and sincere Bible teachers with some mistaken interpretations here and there. Because of that, believers from other parts of the Body of Christ sometimes find it hard to take us seriously.

So we have to hold ourselves to an even higher standard of Bible interpretation than the rest of the Body of Christ!

Conclusion:

So whatever part of the Body of Christ you come from, or whatever your denomination or beliefs, if you are heading the Bible discussions or studies in your small group, I urge you to put in the best effort you can to know the Bible. It takes effort, that is why we are commanded to be diligent about it (2 Tim 2:15). But if you find it hard to spur yourself towards the work and diligence necessary for this, just remember, his approval, his "well-done, good and faithful servant!" as your reward!

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