Volumes of Wisdom in 31 Words
Sewell HallOne evidence of the divinity of Jesus is His ability to state and imply so much wisdom in a few words. Consider His statement to the apostles on the night which ended his personal ministry among them: "I will have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:12-13). Observe the following facts from this text:
Jesus Taught People
He did not "teach classes," nor "present lessons." He did not come from heaven with a briefcase full of highly polished sermons which He was determined to deliver whether they were understood or not. He was altogether concerned with influencing His listeners and this concern for them determined the topics, the content, the method and the depth of His presentations.
Jesus Evaluated His Students
"He himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust" (Psalm 103:14). He knows, too, that even among humans there are variations in ability and quickness to comprehend, Jesus took the measure of His student - their natural intelligence, their cultural prejudices and religious backgrounds - and did His teaching with constant awareness of their limitations.
How desperately we need this lesson from Jesus. Whether it is an audience we are addressing, a class we are instructing or an individual we are teaching; we need to know where they are coming from and where they are if we are to influence where they are coming from and where they are going. Jesus knew these things supernaturally (John 2:25) but we must learn them by effort. This is one reason preachers need to get out of their studies more often and study people instead of books. Personal Bible discussions with those who are in the world, and even with many in the church, will impress us with how little the average person knows about the Bible. Too many of us are so eager to "launch out into the deep" that we leave a good portion of our audience drowning in language and concepts which they are totally unprepared to comprehend. Jesus did not do this.
Jesus Did Not Tell All He Knew
If He had, He would still be here for He knows everything about everything. He might still be lecturing on the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, but no one would be listening for even modern botanists and orinthologtists would be hearing things so far over their heads they would lose interest. Jesus was not trying to impress people with how much He knew; He was teaching them what they were able learn on any given occasion.
I am convinced that there is no better method of teaching the lost (especially those with no Bible background) than to read the Scriptures with them. Let the Holy Spirit through John convince them that Jesus is the Christ, the Son o f God (John 20:30,31). Let the inspired accounts of the conversions in Acts teach them how to be saved and how to serve God in the church. Our biggest difficulty in using this method is our tendency to talk too much. If we stop to discuss every verse we have ever used to defeat a religious error we have encountered somewhere, we will not only get bogged down in an interminable study, but our student will be distracted from the inspired message by all the extraneous material we introduce. If we are reasonably sure our student has a question, we may well offer an explanation, but we must beware of raising questions he is not asking just to show how clever we are in answering them.
Jesus Depended on the Holy Spirit To Finish His InstructionsHe realized that because of their limitations He had taught the apostles only a part of the truth. To complete the teaching He had done, He promised the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth.
When we realize that our time with prospects is limited, we must avoid the temptation to try to tell them all of the truth we know at once. Far better to do as Jesus did; teach them what they are able to receive and then offer them the Spirit's guidance, not directly but in the written word.
If we have but one lesson to teach we can do no better than to convince a learner that Jesus Christ is Lord and that the New Testament is His message for us. If we can get that lesson across, our prospect will then have access to all the truth on any subject about which we might teach him. If we truly believe, as we claim to believe, that any honest, open-minded soul can understand God's will in the New Testament, we can be separated from such a person with confidence that he will, indeed, "be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth," even without our assistance.