Module 3: Beyond Knowledge to Faith and Action
Upon completion of this module, the learner will be equipped to:
- Summarize inspired instruction concerning the need to teach faith and action.
- Explain how a mere teaching of Bible facts falls short of spiritual transformation.
- Explain how an awareness of faith and action domains can shape the goals of spiritual teaching.
The purpose of this module is to describe the domains of faith and action and to set forth inspired directives concerning the necessity of teaching to the whole Christian experience. Subsequent modules will explain how to teach to all domains.
Christianity is primarily an experience of faith and action and not simply a gathering of information. The great object of Christian teachers is to facilitate a new birth and continual transformation of beliefs and practice. It is possible to grow in Bible knowledge yet grow weak in faith and action. The religious leaders in the days of Jesus could recite long passages of Scripture, yet they rejected Him.
The apostle Paul warned that some were “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Paul warned against strife “about words to no profit” and admonished his readers to “shun profane and vain babblings” (2 Tim. 2:l6). It was the pagans at Athens who “spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts l7:21).
“One reason why many theologians have no clearer understanding of God’s word is, they close their eyes to truths which they do not wish to practice” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 38).
“With humble hearts, subdued by the grace of God, you should come to the task of searching the Scriptures, prepared to accept every ray of divine light, and to walk in the way of holiness” (Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, p. 62).
Jesus taught to the domains of faith and action. “Never before spoke one who had such power to awaken thought, to kindle aspiration, to arouse every capability of body, mind, and soul” (Education, p. 81). It is essential for the teacher to be able to kindle aspiration and arouse the capabilities of body, mind, and soul. Jesus commanded His disciples to teach their followers to “observe all things,” not merely to ponder biblical facts (Matt. 28:19, 20).
The Lord has instructed us through His servant that the Sabbath School must not degenerate into a mere form (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, pp. 15l-155). Formal religion deals with Bible information and religious exercises but leaves out understanding and application as well as change in attitude and character.
Throughout the Bible the Lord says that real change needs to take place in heart and conduct, He says, “For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways’ ” (Ps. 95:10). The domains of faith and action involve feelings and emotions. In the Bible the heart is the seat of thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are involved in conversion.
Secular educators recognize a domain called the affective domain. This is the part of life that deals with feelings and attitudes. Much has been written about teaching to the affective as well as the faith domain. Some understanding of emotions and attitudes will help the Christian teacher. The Sabbath School teacher cannot take for granted that class members are growing in faith or character simply from hearing Bible facts. The teacher must be “able to teach” (l Tim. 3:2). “How to exercise faith should be made very plain” (Education, p. 253).
Teachers can impact faith and action development. Consider the following inspired statements:
- “You would better double your classes under God-fearing workers than to multiply teachers whose influence is not in accordance with the holy character of truth which we profess, for their influence will be demoralizing” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 91).
- “Give not this work into the hands of young women and young men who know not how to deal with human minds” (ibid., p. 92).
- “If the people are not taught how to work, how to conduct meetings, how to act their part in missionary labor, how to reach people successfully, the work will be nearly a failure” (ibid., p. 184).
Faith development may be encouraged by an understanding of advanced educational concepts that reflect the methods of Jesus.
- The great object of the Sabbath School is character development (ibid., p. 113).
- “Thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character” (In Heavenly Places, p. 164).
It is generally accepted in religious education circles that beliefs follow thoughts and actions follow beliefs. Beliefs are conditioned by attitudes. Therefore Sabbath School teachers need to understand what influences thoughts, feelings, and actions.
This evaluation is designed for the teachers to assess their own knowledge, understanding, and application of the information.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
1. I am convinced of the need to teach to the domains of faith and action as well as knowledge.
2. In my class I see evidence of change in attitude and behavior as well as understanding and application of Bible facts.
3. List eight reasons the teacher needs to teach to the domains of faith and action as well as knowledge (10 points for each reason).
Total Possilbe: 100
Add the numbers circled in questions 1 and 2 and then add 10 points for each reason listed.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists