February 19

Christian education is at the heart of discipleship. W.A. Criswell was thrilled when they built an education building at First Baptist Dallas many, many decades ago, because he sensed then that learning the Bible, learning about Christ, and learning about Christian living were essential to our churches.

On Sunday I showed some pics of old family Bibles from the 19thcentury filled with commentaries and dictionaries. In such a resource Christians at home across the U.S. would be able to study God’s Word more deeply, especially those in rural areas where they had few churches or even fewer pastors.

Yet you and I have a wealth of resources available at our fingertips. I’ve mentioned www.blueletterbible.org which offers commentaries and dictionaries online for free. You can get some decent resources from Dallas Theological Seminary professors at www.bible.org. And, you can purchase some of the basic resources such as a study Bible or a basic commentary set.

Now, to keep things in balance we must also have relationships with fellow Christians. This is key to discipleship. The Methodists were known a couple hundred years ago for their “societies” wherein John Wesley developed small groups to get people together to encourage and motivate each other in the faith, as well as to hold each other accountable and to teach each other.

For us Southern Baptists, we got addicted to Sunday School as our be-all/end-all for church growth and development. But, Ralph Neighbour, Jr. (who will turn 91 soon), is a Southern Baptist who challenged that idea over 50 years ago by promoting small groups. It’s not that Sunday School is bad in and of itself, but that it usually mimics a classroom environment, and the people in it don’t do life together. Overall, relationships are not deepened enough and accountability and support are minimal for most.

Discipleship is the idea of following Jesus and then teaching others to do the same. How do you do that when most of your time is not with other Christians and when your time at church is mostly a structured 1-1 ½ hour meeting that is not very interactive? When you came to church Sunday did you get into a deep conversation with anyone about a pressing spiritual need in your life? Did anyone ask you how he or she could pray for you? Did you pour out your heart to some close friends who have been supporting you through a rough time? And if you did any of those things, were your conversations long and in-depth, or did you have time constraints?

More likely than not you came to church Sunday, talked to a few people and caught up a little, then sang, sat and listened to the message, and then possibly talked a bit afterwards before heading out the door. This is not atypical of churches across the country, but neither is it accomplishing the goals and interaction necessary of discipleship.

See where I’m heading? We need the training in the Word and biblical theology, but we also need the interactive relationships spurring us on to spiritual maturity in Christ. You can’t have one without the other.

  • Acts 2:46a Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house…
  • Acts 20:20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house
  • Romans 16:5a also greet the church that is in their house.
  • Corinthians 16:19 Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
  • Colossians 4:15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.
  1. The pattern of the early church was to meet in homes. There was some corporate gatherings as a couple of these verses show, but the greater amount of training and discipleship occurred in peoples’ homes. Today, house designs are being developed around the kitchen and living room being central places of gathering and fellowship.
    1. It has been expressed to me the desire to see small home groups develop in our church for greater fellowship and growth. My request is that you pray about opening your home to others to host such a group.
      1. It can also be a means of evangelism in your neighborhood as you invite people over for a meal and Bible study.
    2. Our biblical emphasis is to first read it, and then study it.
      1. Are you committed to consistently reading God’s message to you? _______________________________________________________
      2. What do you have in place to dig in deeper, especially when you come across things in your Bible reading that you don’t understand or want clarification on? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    3. When you’re at home, in the car, or even in the office, do you listen to any solid Bible teachers? ______________________________________________
      1. Sunday I gave a list of names of some people you can read or maybe listen to their message online. I will include that at the end of this devotional, but here I would suggest a few more resources for solid, biblical meat:
        1. Ligonier Ministries
        2. The Gospel Coalition
  • Desiring God
  1. Grace to You
  2. Thru the Bible
  3. 9Marks
  • Wretched TV & Radio
  • Albertmohler.com (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

A Sampling of Solid Bible Teachers (NOTE: These are just some of the great resources available, but as in everything, no man is infallible, yet the wealth of wisdom and knowledge from these men is immense. So, if you have any theological questions on any of these, please let me know. As an example, Louise was asking about a Replacement Theology position of one of these men just this past Sunday (which states the Church replaces Israel). That is a more common belief among Presbyterians and covenantal theology, and while I strongly disagree with this position, it does not mean these men are heretics as they still hold to orthodox beliefs about the foundational basics of Christianity):

  1. Lewis Johnson: Late professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and pastor of Believers Chapel in Dallas. www.sljinstitute.com
  2. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Late pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, he was also a medical doctor and wrote commentaries which I have found helpful in my studies. www.mljtrust.org

James Montgomery Boice: Late pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and founder of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He emphasized biblical inerrancy and wrote many expositional commentaries.

R.C. Sproul: Founder of Ligonier Ministries and late pastor at St. Andrew’s Chapel in Florida. He taught deeply, yet in easy-to-understand terms so that his books on Bible doctrine are understandable. www.renewingyourmind.org

Charles Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers, Spurgeon pastored Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, seeing it grow into one of the greatest Baptist institutions in Britain. A prolific writer, his The Sword & The Trowelpamphlets were a primary source of theological education for Christians all over the U.S. www.spurgeon.organd www.spurgeongems.org

B.H. Carroll: Former Confederate officer who after his conversion became pastor of First Baptist Waco, and founder of South Western Baptist Theological Seminary. His sermons are in print.

W.A. Criswell: Late pastor of First Baptist Dallas and former SBC president. Criswell’s church grew through expository preaching to becoming one of the largest churches in America back almost 50 years ago. www.wacriswell.org

Adrian Rogers: Late pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis and former SBC president. Rogers was one of the most down to earth and practical expository preachers the Southern Baptists have ever had. www.lwf.org

Alistair Begg: Current pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Begg offers deep, practical expository preaching and life application. www.truthforlife.org

John MacArthur: Pastoring Grace Community Church in California for 51 years now, he took a theologically weak Methodist church and brought them into in-depth expository preaching wherein the Word is paramount. He hosts many conferences each year (such as the Shepherd’s Conference for pastors), and the Master’s Seminary is committed to replicating this biblical focus. www.gracechurch.org

Tim Keller: Founding pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He writes from an intelligent, apologetic orientation, and is also co-founder of The Gospel Coalition. www.timothykeller.com

John Piper: Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary as well as former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He founded Desiring God to help instill a passion for the Lord by seeking His glory.

H.B. Charles: Current pastor at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. He has written books and has a podcast for pastors as well as a blog for everyone else. www.hbcharlesjr.com

Voddie Baucham: Currently Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Zambia. He focuses on cultural and expository apologetics, as well as practical family ministry. www.voddiebaucham.org

Steve Lawson: Former Southern Baptist Pastor in Mobile, Alabama and current Professor of Preaching at the Master’s Seminary. His commentary work on Psalms is excellent. www.onepassionministries.org

Sinclair Ferguson: Scottish theologian who was professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, and currently at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also an assistant minister at St. Peter’s Free Church of Scotland.

D.A. Carson: Canadian professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and helped found the Gospel Coalition. His commentaries are used extensively in seminaries due to the depth and clarity he puts into them.

Ligon Duncan: Chancellor at Reformed Theological Seminary, co-founder of Together for the Gospel, and pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi. He has some excellent books and sermons you can listen to. www.ligonduncan.com

Kevin Deyoung: Current pastor at Christ Covenant Church in North Carolina, he is in his 40s and speaks well to many current issues amongst younger Christians.

The Puritans and Reformers: Baxter, Bunyan, Calvin, Zwingli, Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Poole, Matthew Henry, Roger Williams, John Owen, Benjamin Keach, John Gill, Andrew Fuller, William Carey, etc. Also, look up the 2ndLondon Baptist Confession of 1689 for more on early Baptist theology.