– Making Every Church A Bible School –
The Holy Spirit revealed through Paul that Christians “are not under law, but under grace” (Rm 6:14). This truth is our inspiration to seek and maintain a grace-oriented relationship with God and response to His commandments. Grace that was revealed through the gospel is the initial motivation that causes one to obey the gospel in baptism. It is this truth that motivates continual transformation in our hearts throughout our lives. This is the foundational truth that must define us as disciples of the Lord Jesus in order that we are prepared for eternity. It is for this reason that we are calling for a restoration to the motivating power of the gospel of God’s grace.
In order to restore the motivational power of the gospel in the lives of individuals, it is necessary that the Bible is established as our only medium through which we understand the gospel. However, because the Bible reports on the historical events that reveal the gospel does not mean that it is the gospel. On the contrary, the Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired historical record of the events that reveal the gospel of God’s grace which He has extended to us through His incarnate Son. The Bible is our textbook to know and understand the gospel.
Lest we make the Bible a legal system of law by which we would seek to merit our own salvation through perfect obedience of its laws, we seek to restore a better understanding of the historical events in the Bible that reveal the grace of God on the cross. In restoring the gospel of grace, people are moved to be obedient to the will of God in response to His grace. Once understood, the historical events of the gospel journey of the Son of God inspire a response to the grace of God. In this way, therefore, the disciples of Christ live under the motivating power of the grace of God.
Gospel restoration assumes that we seek to revive in the minds of able teachers the historical events that reveal the gospel journey of the Son of God into and out of this world. These historical events are the following: (1) incarnation, (2) crucifixion, (3) resurrection, (4) ascension, (5) coronation, (6) consummation. In the textbook, the Encyclopedic Study Guide Handbook, these gospel events are the foundation upon which Gospel Restoration Bible Schools (GRBS) are established. If possible in your area, these subjects can be further studied by downloading the following resource books from our website, www.africainternational.org:
1. Book 73, The Gospel of God’s Heart 2. Book 79, Gospel Restoration 3. Book 85, The Incarnational Journey of God 4. Book 89, Your Gospel Journey with the Son of God
The biblical mandate behind the concept of the GRBSs is explained in three contexts: Matthew 28:20; Romans 1:13-16; 2 Timothy 2:2.
• Matthew 28:20: Jesus instructed His apostles that after they had preached the gospel, and thus motivated people to respond to the gospel by being baptized, they should do the following with the new disciples: “. . . teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” There is certainly more involved in the “all things” of Jesus’ statement than simply rehearsing the historical events through which the good news of the Son of God was revealed to mankind. At the same time, we must understand that one does not need to know “all things” concerning the depth of the knowledge of God in reference to the gospel before he or she obeys the gospel. It is for this reason, therefore, that after obedience to the gospel in baptism, one must have a sincere desire to sit and study of the work of God through His Son (See Rm 11:33-36; 2 Tm 2:15; 2 Pt 3:18). This is the reason why every assembly of disciples should be a “gospel Bible school.”
• Romans 1:13-16: Paul’s planned trip to meet with the Roman disciples would be an effort of what we refer to as a GRBS. Some of the disciples in Rome were turning their life as disciples into a legal system of religion. Even in their initial response to the gospel some were assuming that one was meritoriously saved through works of law to save himself. This is a special danger for all those who have been delivered out of the bondage of legal law-keeping religion. These disciples have a tendency to bring their concept of self-righteous religiosity into the realm of the gospel of God’s grace (See Rm 10:1-3). The result is that they sometimes look back to their obedience to the gospel of God’s grace as a meritorious system of law-keeping whereby they congratulate themselves on performing correctly the law of God. For this reason they encouraged others to obey the law of God without focusing on the power of the grace of God to inspire obedience and life transformation. We must not forget that the power of God unto salvation is in the gospel of His grace, not law.
• Far away in the city of Rome, therefore, some were bringing their concept of meritorious religiosity into the fellowship of the disciples. As was the case with some in Galatia who did the same, and thus started preaching “another gospel” (Gl 1:6-9), Paul believed that it was necessary that he go personally to the Roman Christians in order to discuss this matter before it turned the church into just another legal religion of self-righteous members (See Rm 10:1-3). He wanted to personally remind the Roman disciples that their obedience to the gospel was not a meritorious accomplishment of salvation on their part, but was the result of their being motivated by the power of God’s grace that first inspired obedience to the gospel, and then led to the transformation of their lives (See Rm 12:1,2). He wrote the entire document of Romans as a Holy Spirit-inspired textbook on this matter.
• As a result of turning the gospel of grace into a meritorious relationship with God through one’s performance of law (See Gl 1:6-9), Paul realized that a “GRBS” was in order for the disciples in Rome. Therefore, he sought to go to them in order to bear fruit in their hearts by instructing them further in the gospel of God’s grace (Rm 1:13). This is the key to understanding the difference between meritorious obedience to the gospel and a responsive obedience that is caused by the grace of God (See 2 Co 4:15).
Meritorious assumes that when one accomplishes certain steps of law to receive salvation, he or she is saved. But far more fulfilling is that a responsive thanksgiving for what God has done through the gospel, generates an inward transformation in the heart of the individual. This transformation starts before obedience to the gospel, because understanding all that God did for the sinner must motivate the sinner to do all that God would require for one to do in order to respond correctly to His incarnate Son. This result is a lifetime transformation. However, if one starts to question, or forget the journey of the incarnate Son of God, his or her response to the gospel begins to subside. It is at this time when one’s faith is in danger of becoming vain (See 1 Co 15:1,2).
In order that the disciples in Roman deter themselves from either a legal obedience to law to save themselves, or forget their initial motivation by the gospel, Paul sought to go to them in order to sit down with then and review again the gospel to which they had formerly responded. This is the central purpose for the establishment of GRBSs. This is an effort when disciples sit down and review again the foundation upon which our is built.
• 2 Timothy 2:2: In the function of a GRBS, it is the objective of the teacher to be a teacher of teachers. This was the mandate of the Holy Spirit to Timothy through the apostle Paul: “The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” This was a worldwide ministry that Jesus began with His imperative to the apostles in Matthew 28:20, and subsequently was to be continued throughout history until He comes again. The apostles were to teach those whom they baptized what Jesus had taught them. But added to what Jesus personally taught the apostles, the apostles were also under a mandate to teach all things concerning what the Holy Spirit would teach them after Jesus ascended (See Jn 14:26; 16:13).
When one establishes a GRBS, he or she is offering to baptized disciples the opportunity to be taught a catalog of truth that is revealed in the Bible. The final objective in establishing a GRBS, however, is not simply to teach teachers matters of truth. It is their objective to inspire those they teach to also start more GRBSs in order to perpetuate the mandate of 2 Timothy 2:2.
The textbook for the GRBS is the Encyclopedic Study Guide Handbook. This particular textbook was designed over many years as a resource for those who are actively preaching and teaching the word of God, specifically the gospel of our Lord Jesus. Through the sessions of classroom teaching that are taken from this textbook, only fundamental subjects are studied. Once the classroom sessions are completed, the textbook becomes a resource for teachers who can go forth and teach others also. In order to aid able teachers as they go forth to teach, there are several years of teaching material included in the textbook.
The following subjects of the textbook are suggested to be taught during the once-a-week classroom sessions over a period of twelve weeks:
- The Standard of the Bible (pp. 10-12)
- Jesus is the Son of God (pp. 12-15)
- Change from the Old to the New Covenant (pp. 30-32)
- First Principles in Bible Study (pp. 47-54)
- State of the Soul (pp. 54-56)
- Survey of God’s Gospel Plan (pp. 56-59)
- Gospel versus Religion (pp. 60-63)
- The Body of Christ (pp. 63-65)
- Revelation of the Truth of the Gospel (pp. 65-72)
- Gospel-Motivated Worship (pp. 72-78)
- Sharing the Truth of the Gospel (pp. 105-110)
- How to Understand and Teach the Bible (pp. 110-117)