Adult Bible Class Myths: It’s all about life application

TeacherMyth #4. You’ve not really taught a lesson until you’ve made a life application. Teachers are repeatedly told: be sure you apply the lesson to lives! It doesn’t mean anything unless you come to a life-changing conclusion! As a result, some teachers make the mistake of thinking nothing matters except the application.

Many teachers take a passage, pull out a single lesson, and teach a lesson independent of the context. For example, it would be easy to take this remarkable passage and teach a lesson on praise–

(Eph. 1:11-12) In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Well, this isn’t really about praise. It’s about predestination and the sovereignty of God and our purpose in the scheme of history. But predestination and such don’t have obvious life applications, and so some teachers skip these concepts altogether.

The fact is that you can’t really get to a life application without first doing the theology. Your students need to understand why they should be good. Why forgive? Why praise? Why not gossip? And if we don’t teach the harder concepts–grace, the Spirit, and such–the class won’t really understand what they’re being taught because they won’t understand God. In fact, they’ll think Christianity is just a bunch of pop-psychology and good intentions. They’ll wonder why they need God to be a good person.

Paul wrote 11 chapters of Romans before applying it beginning in chapter 12. He thought a deep, profound understanding of salvation, faith, grace, the Spirit, and even predestination was necessary before he could teach the Romans how to love each other. And yet we often make the mistake of going straight for the conclusion and wondering why it doesn’t stick.

But then, Paul did make the application. It’s not that we shouldn’t diligently apply our lessons. It’s that we might be better off not doing so every week. And we should definitely not try to be smarter than the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has given us some wonderful lesson plans. We should use them.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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