I, frankly, must confess that I have always felt I enjoyed a unique personal advantage in teaching Bible studies: I felt that the three most influential and effective teachers in my own lifetime were Hal Lindsey, Chuck Smith, and Walter Martin. Each, in their own unique way, were without equal.
Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth, has probably influenced more people regarding the reality of Jesus Christ—and His imminent return—than any other book in recent history. It resulted in Hal being picked as The Author of the Decade by the New York Times.
Chuck Smith, in addition to being one of the best loved Bible teachers in America today, has provided us with a contemporary philosophy of ministry that has led to the Calvary Chapel movement, resulting in what is probably, de facto, one of the largest "denominations" in the world. All by a primary focus on the verse-by-verse teaching of the entire Word of God, while allowing for the free moving of the Spirit.
The late Walter Martin, when he was alive, was clearly the most well-known expert in comparative religions in America. His apologetics and defense of doctrinal orthodoxy against the numerous cults and deviations were, and remain, without equal.
One reason I personally felt uniquely blessed is that I have enjoyed an intimate, personal relationship with each of these celebrities for a period exceeding several decades. Hal and I have been "partners" for over 25 years and it was his particular initiative that "recruited" me into the full time ministry seven years ago. Chuck Smith is my personal pastor, serves on our Board of Directors, and it was his tutoring, trust and sponsorship over the past several decades that also has led to our present ministry. It was my business partner and I who brought Walter Martin to the West Coast and we served on his board during those early adventurous years of the Christian Research Institute.
I, literally, was personally mentored by each of them. To some degree, my own audacity (or presumption) in leading home study groups derived from this enviable tutoring. However, it may come as a surprise to you to discover that you also can enjoy the same advantage I've had!
You, too, can be tutored by these same teachers—or whomever you personally hold in special regard—through audio tape cassettes. By listening to tapes, while driving, jogging, or cleaning up the workshop, or whatever, you can be personally tutored by the "greats" on your own horizon. Some have told me that they have learned more about the Bible in six months of tape cassettes than they did in twelve years of Christian schooling plus seminary!
Here is a secret to personal growth that can truly change your life; a subtle technology which can help you conquer the tyranny of your demanding schedule. In a world of increasing demands on our various roles as parent, spouse, executive—whatever—it seems that there is never enough time to accomplish all that we would like to. Even our attempt at prioritizing things seems to get overturned by the intrusions of the "urgent preempting the important."
One of the most tragic casualties of our modern pace of living is reading and study. With the availability of less demanding media—movies, videos, television programs, video games, computer games, CD-ROM's, laser discs, compact discs, audio cassette players, etc.—it is not surprising that time devoted to extracurricular reading is a major casualty in our current lifestyles. And our serious study of the Bible is no exception.
One of the solutions to our enslavement to routine is to harness technology to eclipse some of our habit patterns, and one of the most powerful tools is so deceptively humble that it is easily overlooked: the common audio cassette tape. It can be easily fitted into our normal routines: commuting to and from work, while jogging or on a treadmill, while cleaning up the workshop, or on other errands. It seems that the teaching effectiveness of audio tape cassettes appears to bridge the gap between the formidable burden of reading on the one hand, and the passivity of videos on the other.
This can also be a key factor in improving our spiritual growth. In 1996, over 500 pastors responded to a survey: "What do you feel is the major reason Christians do not read their Bible?"
- 47%. . . . . Lack of time/too busy
- 19%. . . . . Laziness or lack of discipline
- 15%. . . . . Not important or relevant
- 8%. . . . . . Not a priority
- 3%. . . . . . Don't understand what they are reading
- 3%. . . . . . Not readers/poor reading skills
Recent studies show that the average American spends 45 minutes a day in the car. If you listened to Bible reading during this time, you could hear the entire New Testament in 24 days and review the entire Bible in 14 weeks. You could also be personally tutored by your favorite teacher on whatever topics interest you.
The Scripture emphasizes, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17 ) It also admonishes us to "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15, 16)
The mission of Koinonia House is to create, develop, and distribute educational materials to stimulate, encourage, and facilitate serious study of the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. One of the reasons that we have so emphasized audio cassette tapes in our study materials is that they have proven so effective at "redeeming the time" in the caldron of competing demands on our schedules. And you can do this with the convenience—and privacy—of your own routine.
This type of assisted study can prove to be a truly life-changing habit. And it can also help you make up for those "years the locusts have eaten" by helping you in getting "up to speed" quickly in whatever areas the Lord is leading you.