“That’s my group” and “He’s my teacher” are statements that are often made by a teacher or the members of the group. While the two statements may be accurate, they are partially accurate. Don’t forget that every Bible study group has 2 teachers in the room – and they aren’t the teacher and his apprentice. The two teachers are (1) the Holy Spirit and (2) the group leader who guides the Bible study.
Why do we so often forget about the role of the Holy Spirit in the teaching/learning process? There’s probably no easy answer to that question. It’s all too tempting to think of teaching in terms of the human beings present, but we shouldn’t forget that another person is also present, and He has a bigger role to play than we’re willing to admit. The Holy Spirit becomes the teacher of the group as these things occur:
- The Holy Spirit works through the group’s teacher. The Great Commission tells us that Jesus’ plan to make disciples involves human teachers instructing people in God’s Word (Matthew 28:18-20). As the teacher prepares his or her Bible study, the Holy Spirit uses their mind, background, experiences, relationships with group members, and current circumstances to build a message that connects with the people at the heart level. 2 Timothy 2:2 records the Lord’s plan for teaching people involves a partnership between the Holy Spirit (not specifically mentioned) and gifted teachers who are able to teach things they have learned from trustworthy sources. When you think about your Bible study group, you probably think about your teacher. But don’t forget – there’s a “teacher behind the teacher.”
- The Holy Spirit works through the group members. Not only does the teacher teach, but the Holy Spirit teaches the group members as well. As a group leader, I am always amazed at the insight and depth of understanding that my group members bring to any given biblical text. Although I have studied and prepared the things I want to say, do, and ask, someone in the group usually teaches me by the time the Bible study is over. Although I can aid my group members in their understanding of the biblical text, an even greater Teacher is available to every believer. This teacher, the Holy Spirit, leads and guides them into truth – without me! According to Roy Zuck in his book Spiritual Power in Your Teaching, the Holy Spirit involves Himself in the learner’s heart in 3 ways (pp.45-52):
- Conviction (of sin – see John 16:8)
- Illumination (Ephes. 1:18 – Paul prays, “That the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”)
- Indwelling (I John 2:27 – the indwelling Holy Spirit speaks to believers and teaches each of us even in the absence of a teacher)
- The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 contains these familiar words: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The Word of God is foundational to any Bible study. Hopefully your group immerses itself in Scripture every time you come together to study. As we are exposed to God’s Word, learn its commands, are cautioned by its rebukes, and trained to know God’s heart, we can experience the transformational growth that God desires for each of us. “Since Scripture is directly inspired by God, it must be used as the final test of truth by which believers distinguish truth from error” (Heart Deep Teaching, p.39).
Thank the Lord for your group’s teacher, and for His Holy Spirit who lives in you as a believer. The Spirit works through your teacher to guide you into truth. He also works through your fellow group members as you explore His Word. The Holy Spirit is present every time your group gathers – so don’t forget to thank Him for being “the teacher behind the teacher.”