Truckers Bible Study
Oak Grove, Missouri, Part 2
The first article about this study appeared on page 2 of the Mar-Apr 1998 Servants News.
One of the questions that we often face is the tension between law and grace. Without question we are saved by grace, but people often fall into the trap of talking in terms of "grace alone", assuming that this means the law is done away. This theology implies we need do nothing in our walk with God, although I doubt many proponents of this doctrine would put it that way.
The "grace alone" doctrine comes up time and time again. The truth of course is that we are indeed saved by grace. It is the gift of God, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, and a gift is something you can't earn. On the other hand, Paul also said that we are rewarded according to our works, and a reward is something that one definitely does earn. So salvation is a gift, but our reward (which we earn) is either going to be death (Rom. 6:23) or a better resurrection (Heb. 11). Or perhaps we should say a better room or place (or position) in God's mansion (John 14).
A rich man once came to Jesus and asked, "What good thing should I do to gain eternal life?" He was told that to enter into life, he should keep the commandments. Those who subscribe to the "grace alone" theology find it difficult to explain this scripture.
In dealing with this theology, we find that their position, when boiled down to its essence, is not what we think it is. The trucker in today's study does not really believe he can do anything he wants. God does have certain standards for his people. Surely he would agree that murder and lying and adultery are wrong. He is trying to say that God's forgiveness and salvation are gifts, but even our fathers after the flesh give us good gifts at the same time requiring us to live a life that is worthy of the family name.
The key to me is Genesis 2, where God made man is His image. In other words, we are to become like God and be the way God is. This implies that we have to change our lives and live a certain way, i.e., live by his laws. In today's study I was hoping to take this scripture and show that indeed God's purpose for man is to become like God and to rule the universe (my favorite subject: "Why did God create the human race?") but we ended up going in lots of other directions.
Another challenge we face in the trucker's study is talking with people who have studied their entire lives at the same time we are talking with those who are very new to the scriptures. It is hard to strike a balance in that setting. We also have people from different denominational backgrounds and perspectives, and it is so easy to give offense. One gentleman today made a comment about the Catholic Church, and the woman meeting with us stormed out, having taken great offense, and rightly so. She is not a Catholic, but is tired of denomination bashing.
She came back in a couple of minutes obviously distressed and expressed her feelings. Fortunately, one of the other men (who had just come in and whom I'll discuss again in a minute) stood up and said it was time to pray for God's spirit to come back, for reconciliation, and so forth. I asked him to lead the prayer, and it was a wonderful, moving prayer, followed by hugs and apologies. The incident illustrates the care we must take to avoid offense.
We see also a growing anti-denominational bias among many, who perceive that organizational boundaries are man made and serve only to divide people. People are moving away from organized religion and are searching the Bible and the Bible alone. Once I asked a trucker what denomination he was, and he grinned and said, "God". Since then, my rule is to avoid questions of denominational affiliation.
This week we had a repeat visitor. A few weeks ago a young man came who is a former drug dealer and addict, and related to us his history and his own ministry among his former drug running friends and to other truck drivers in general. (He is the same one who came in late today and offered the prayer of reconciliation). He asked me after today's study where Arlo was because he had some questions (Arlo had to leave early). The questions had to do with the Sabbath day, specifically, hasn't the order of the week been altered since creation, and therefore how can we know when the Sabbath is? We discussed it a bit, and I told him I could get him a booklet on the subject. After returning home I e-mailed Church of God Seventh Day and asked them to send him a booklet entitled "The Weekly Cycle" and, if it is still in print, the original "Has Time Been Lost?". I also had a copy of my World Ahead magazine, which he was leafing through, and he took a subscription card.
As a side note, all the Born to Win tapes and most of the Bibles that were put out last week disappeared. I was reading in Ron Dart's latest newletter that they are hearing from truck drivers. Wonder if there is any connection?
If we seriously believe that we will be teaching people about Christ and his way of life in the Millennium, this is the kind of experience that we need now. We do not all need to give Truckers studies, but we need to reach the many people who want to learn outside of church organizations wherever they may be. These studies may occur at night in a rented hall, during the lunch-hour at our job, or among women getting together in a home.
A comment on one important item mentioned above: How do you teach people when some have much Bible knowledge and others have very little? WCG members may have never heard this topic discussed in 30 years of services, but most kindergarten teachers probably have an idea. Our suggestions:
1) When a novice asks a basic question, ask one of the other more advanced students to give the answer, rather than give it yourself. When the more advanced students hear other simple questions in the future, they will begin to think, "Now how would I explain that?" rather than "Boring... I already know that."
2) Give messages that have both a simple and deep meaning. Many of Christs parables and other parts of the Bible do this.It is not easy to give this kind of message, but with practice and the Holy Spirit, we can! NSE
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