I have always preferred a discussion group to a lecture group, but I didn’t understand until recently why discussing the Bible—versus hearing a Bible lesson—is so important and life-changing.
To illustrate why we must discuss, I’d like to misquote a verse and ask you to catch where I have misquoted it. (This is a favorite teaching technique of mine—you should try it!) Anyway, here is the misquoted verse:
Instead, hearing the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15 (NIV2011)
Did you catch it? Here is the real verse:
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15 (NIV2011)
It is through speaking the truth we grow. We must discuss. Hearing is good. Speaking the truth is life-changing.
When we speak the truth, we are changed by the truth we speak. When we speak words of gratitude, we become more grateful. When we grumble, we become more grumpy. When we speak words of faith, we become more faith-filled. We become what we say.
James taught that the tongue was like the rudder on a boat. Wherever the rudder points the ship, the ship goes. Wherever the tongue points a life, the life goes. I think if Jesus were writing today he would speak of steering wheels instead of rudders. The words you speak are the steering wheel of your life. If you can get people to speak the truth, they will be changed by the words they speak. This is why we must discuss.
Jesus wanted to teach a lesson one day—a very important lesson. I imagine he stayed up late preparing. He thought about some big, dramatic presentation. He thought about climbing a tree and yelling for all to hear: “Listen everyone, I am the Christ! The Son of the Living God!” He thought about it, but he thought better.
He decided to teach this centrally important lesson through a question and answer format. He asked a number of questions culminating with the central one that lead Peter to say: You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!
Why do you think Jesus used question-and-answer to teach this centrally important truth? Think about it before you move on. See if you can articulate an answer.
I believe Jesus taught this centrally important truth in a question-and-answer format for the same reason we should teach using question-and-answer: because people are changed more by what they say than what they hear. Jesus knew that when Peter spoke these words, he would be changed by them.
Jesus taught it is what comes out of a man’s mouth—the words that he speaks—that changes him. This is why we must discuss. It is not about pooled ignorance. It is about leading people to speak the truth and be changed by the truth they proclaim.