Do you understand the techniques God, uses to mold His character in us? You should, because we will use these same educational principles to train mankind in the world tomorrow.
What will you be doing in God's Kingdom? Do you know what part the Philadelphia era of Gods Church will play in the world tomorrow? Education! In one way or another, we will all be teachers. "And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3). The Philadelphia church, made pillars in the Temple of God at Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12), will help turn the world to God through education. Those who survive the Great Tribulation and the seven last plagues will finally be willing to listen to God's instruction and practice God's way of life. And we, who have had the responsibility of announcing God's message to this world at this time, will then be able to work with those people to show them how to fulfill God's purpose for their lives. How are we being prepared to become tomorrow's teachers? There are teaching opportunities all around 'us. Parents are to teach their children. Employers instruct employees. We teach ourselves in developing our talents. And in a small way, we are all even now teaching the world around us about God's way by the examples we set. How does God teach us? How can we apply these techniques now in preparation for using them in God's Kingdom? God is the source of all true knowledge. In getting across what He wants people to know, the first thing God does is get their attention. And in a powerful way! Before God gave His law to ancient Israel, He boldly made His presence known with tremendous thunderings and lightnings. The people trembled (Ex. 19:16, 20:18)! God got their attention, and they were willing to listen to what He had to say through His servant Moses. Christ made quite an impression on the Jewish leaders in the Temple when He knocked the money changers' tables over and drove out the merchants (Matt. 21:12-13). The leaders taken by surprise, surely gave Christ their full attention as He declared, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." Once God has the attention of those He intends to teach, He speaks directly, without "beating around the bush": "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage" (Deut. 5:6). With this solid introduction, God began to give the Ten Commandments, clearly stating His purpose so that no one could misunderstand: "Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, 0 Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily" (Deut. 6:1-3). Getting the attention of the one being taught, whether it be a child, employee or other student, and helping him understand the purpose of the instruction are important responsibilities you, the teacher, have.
Speak in simple language
God then speaks in plain language to get His message across. Jesus Christ employed this principle. For example, in Matthew 21:33-46, Christ told a parable about a rebellious group of vineyard workers who killed their landowner's son in an attempt to steal the son's inheritance. Jesus asked His listeners, the chief priests and Pharisees, to supply the end of the story', which they were able to do easily. They realized Christ was speaking of them. Christ's apostle today, Herbert W. Armstrong, learned this technique of plain talk in his early days in advertising, and has employed it ever since. His clear, simple presentation of God's revealed truth has helped to build this great Work and better the lives of scores of thousands! Likewise, you as a teacher must present in simple terms whatever information you want to get across to your student. Just after Christ's return, the survivors of the holocaust just ahead of us now will likely be in such shock that they will understand little except material presented in the simplest of terms: Christ helped His listeners understand new knowledge by relating it to something with which they were already familiar. Once John the Baptist's disciples came to Christ and asked Him why His disciples did not fast. Christ answered their question by relating a familiar situation, the celebration of a wedding feast, to His own presence (Matt. 9:14-15). We as teachers must also build new knowledge on the foundation of what our children, for example, already know. Attaching labels to concepts we want to inculcate can help our students store these concepts in their memories. For instance, love is a label we apply to an array of actions Mr. Armstrong summarizes as outgoing concern for others. Most of the Bible is devoted to defining the term love.
But it would be highly impractical even impossible — to recite the entire Bible every time we wished to speak of love. But the label love unlocks everything in our listeners' memories that relates to the concept.
Use of examples
One of God's most important teaching techniques is the use of examples" Paul said the events of the Old Testament, in particular, "happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Cor. 10:11). The Old Testament's major characters are listed, for instance, as models of the kind of faith we must have (Heb. 11). Christ, of course, is the perfect example, and we are specifically told to follow His steps (I Pet. 2:21). The Bible is replete with examples we need to analyze, applying the lessons we learn to develop the character God wants us to have. As effective teachers, we also will use both good and bad examples to illustrate the lessons we have to offer. Jesus frequently used questions to introduce topics or make cogent points. He was a master of this technique. For instance, Christ came in contact with a man who had been ill for 38 years; Jesus opened a conversation with the man by saying, "Wilt thou be made whole?" John 5:2-6). This question elicited the exact response Christ was looking for and allowed Him to demonstrate an important principle about keeping God's Sabbath.
Another major teaching tool that effectively impresses points on a learner's mind is repetition. God repeats the meaning of the Sabbath to us once every seven days, 52 times a year. He also repeats the Holy Days every year because He knows how quickly we can forget. God wants His 6,000-year plan etched deeply in our minds. Christ, in conversation with Simon Peter, asked Peter three times, "Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" (John 21:15-17). While Christ's queries related progressively deeper meanings of the word love each time, He used basically the same question. Its repetition emphasized in Peter's mind the importance of caring for the Church of God. Christ also used pauses to emphasize important points. Sometimes saying nothing can impress a listener more effectively than pouring out a torrent .of words. Herod, when he met Jesus, was not interested in learning the truth but in seeing a miracle and being entertained. He "questioned [Jesus] in many words; but he answered him nothing" (Luke .23:8-9). Christ remained silent. He accomplished more with a pause than He would have with an argument. As in all other areas, God is also the absolute Master in the use of tension in teaching. Consider the anxiety that developed in the people of Jericho, and the tension God created in the Israelites, when He had the Israelites march around the city seven days (Josh. 6:1-5). Imagine the anticipation and the waiting. The Israelites knew what was going to happen — God had told them the reason for the marching. When the destruction occurred just as God had promised, the Israelites learned a great lesson.
Adapt to students' needs
Inspiration and encouragement are important to the progress of any student. To inspire literally means "to put a spirit into another." This occurred in a dramatic way on the day of Pentecost after Christ's resurrection, when the disciples received God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). God's Spirit, actually placed within those whom God had called to do His Work at that time, inspired them to great accomplishments. And this is the Spirit all true members of God's Church have today! In instructing your children, employees or any other students, remember to encourage them. Recognize their achievements and successes. Positive reinforcement and helpful, loving advice, rather than destructive criticism -and ridicule, will spur them to greater growth. Christ offered tremendous encouragement to a woman who approached Him once when He was teaching. The woman, who had been ill for 12 years, unbeknown to Christ, touched His garment, believing that this contact would heal her. "But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour" (Matt. 9:20-22). Not only did Jesus encourage her, but He rewarded her faith. An effective teacher will adapt the instruction to the needs of the students. For instance, not all students are able to learn at the same rate, so the speed of the instruction must be varied. God does not give us "meat" before we are ready for it, but rather feeds us "milk" at first. When Christ first saw Mary after His resurrection, she, standing and weeping, did not recognize Him. Instead of shouting: "Hey, look! It's me!" Jesus said to her, "Woman, why weepest thou?" After allowing Mary to express herself, Jesus broke the news to her gently by saying to her in a voice she recognized, "Mary" (John 20:11-17). Then Jesus gave Mary the message He wanted her to convey to the disciples. A teacher must be willing to listen as well.
Moses listened when Jethro, his father-in-law, said, "Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee" (Ex. 18:19). As a result, Moses learned about a system of organization that has proven effective for God's people ever since. God Himself listens, of course: "The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles" (Ps. 34:17). Christ was an adaptive, sensitive instructor. One morning after His resurrection, Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. He called out to the disciples, who were fishing, "Have ye any meat?" They answered, "No." "And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes" (John 21:4-6). After the disciples realized who Jesus was, they brought the fish to shore. They found that Jesus had already laid the fire of coals and had prepared fish and warm bread for them (verse 9). Jesus had some last instructions He wanted to give His disciples but He knew it was necessary to meet their physical needs before providing them with spiritual food.
To make sure his instruction is getting across effectively, a teacher must periodically test the student's comprehension. Jesus frequently tested His listeners to see whether they understood what He had been teaching. After feeding multiple thousands of people from practically nothing — on two separate occasions — Jesus found Himself aboard ship with the disciples, who had forgotten to bring bread. He used the occasion to teach a spiritual lesson about sin, but the disciples didn't get it. After leading them up to the point with a series of questions, He said to them, "How is it that ye do not understand?" (Mark 8:19-21). In verse 29 is an example of an occasion when a learner did understand: "And he [Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ." We as Christians are being tested every day by Almighty God! He wants to see if we are developing the character necessary to become Members of His Family. You as a member of the Philadelphia era of God's Church are developing teaching skills to be used in spreading the knowledge of God's way in the world tomorrow. As you study your Bible, look for different teaching techniques used by our Creator to inspire our learning. As you practice God's way of life, observe what works best in helping you develop character, and try it when you have opportunity to instruct others. God has given us an abundance of good teaching techniques. Let's apply them today and prepare to teach in tomorrow's world.