It was said of Jesus that "the common people heard Him gladly." By this we would conclude that He made the message so plain that they could readily understand it. In the preparation of Bible studies, I endeavor to keep this thought in mind.
To one who has been reared in a Seventh-day Adventist home and educated in our schools, it is not easy to understand how difficult it is for those who have not had such privileges to comprehend this*truth. For example, I cite my own experience. I was brought up in a home in which the Bible was never read. I attended Sunday school occasionally, but the Bible seemed very vague to me. When this message came to me, I was a schoolteacher, but wholly ignorant of the word of God. The cry of my heart was, "Tell me the story simply, as to a little child."
And it is not only those who have had an experience similar to mine who need to have the truth taught simply. I recall an incident which occurred while I was attending our Foreign Mission Seminary, now Washington Missionary College. A minister and his wife had recently accepted the truth and were in the Bible doctrines class with me. Often when the teacher would refer to some truth familiar to the class, this minister would ask for proof. When it was produced, he would express himself like this, "Why, I never knew that was in the Bible." From these and other experiences I determined that my aim should always be to make the word of God as simple as possible.
Studies in First Series.—NOW, regarding the order of Bible studies, In the first lesson, a brief outline of the Bible itself—time covered, writers, divisions, etc.—is given in connection with "Rules for Bible Study." As sin is the problem that confronts every individual, lesson two is "The Origin of Sin," which is followed by a study on "A Powerful Saviour," which reveals Jesus as Creator and Redeemer.
Lesson four takes up "Purpose of Prophecy and Daniel 2." The "Second Coming of Jesus" naturally follows. On the subject of signs, I use Matthew 16:1-3 as the basis for two studies —the first on "Signs of the First Advent," the second on "Signs of the Second Advent." Lessons eight and nine are on the "Millennium" and "The Home of the Redeemed."
By this time, I rarely have one of my readers raise a question about the subject of "The Sleep of the Dead" or "The Fate of the Wicked." However, I take these subjects in separate lessons, in order to more fully impress the important truths. This list closes the first series of subj ects.
Studies in Second Series.—The seventh chapter of Daniel (not stressing the change of the Sabbath) starts a new series of prophetic subjects. For the study of the 2300 days, I make the outline and put in the dates as we study. Thus I find it easier to make each point plain. Next, the sanctuary study is taken up. I discover whether the history of the exodus is familiar ; if not, one or more studies are devoted to that. I have made a small sanctuary which I use with the several lessons on this very vital subject.
"The Judgment," "The Standard in the Judgment," 'The Sabbath." "The Change of the Sabbath," "What Was Nailed to the Cross," covering the ceremonial sabbaths and covenants, make up the subjects of the second series.
Studies in Third Series.—"Why Not Found Out Before ?" or "The Elijah Message" introduces the lessons in Revelation, covering "The Three Angels' Messages," "The Church in All Ages," climaxed by "The True Church," "Spiritual Gifts," and "The Spirit of Prophecy" in three lessons. These complete the third series.
Studies in Christian Living.—" Steps in Conversion" and "Walking in the Light" are next studied. John 8:29 is used as the basis of a group of lessons on what in our lives would please Jesus. This takes up baptism, ordinances, and tithe. 1 John 2:15-17 lays the foundation for the lessons on "Temperance," "Dress Reform," and "Amusements."
"Righteousness by Faith" and "Growth in Grace" are practical subjects to teach how to live the Christian life. "Organization" and "Privileges of Church Membership" are instructive lessons in helping to understand what it means to become a part of God's message.
It takes a long time to instruct thoroughly, but I believe it pays. Thoroughness makes members who are true and loyal to the end. Usually, after baptism, I give a number of lessons to encourage the readers in their newfound faith.