These outlines, comprising a five year course of Sunday School lessons through the Scriptures, appeared originally in Faithful Words, a gospel magazine. In response to many requests they are now gathered together in one volume.
The reader will observe that one outline appears on each page surrounded by a generous margin upon which the student may place any additional notes and comments resulting from his own study of the lesson, thus enabling him to make these outlines his own. The paper has been specially selected for this purpose.
These outlines have been purposely condensed so that they will be merely suggestive and an encouragement to further study, rather than an excuse to avoid that study and preparation so necessary to the teacher and preacher. All the Scripture references should be looked up and well pondered, and their relation to the lesson determined.
The material for these outlines has been gathered from many sources, and my appreciation is due to all who, by their oral or written ministry, have aided in this direction.
In the introductory pages there will be found a suggestion as to how to best use these outlines, together with other hints to Sunday School teachers and others who are seeking to teach and preach the word of God.
The book goes forth with the desire that God may be pleased to use its contents to the glory of Him Whose incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension and ceaseless intercession has made such teaching possible.
—A. P. G. Chicago, Illinois, 1935
Foreword To Fifth Edition
Once again another edition is sent forth, with the same desire as the previous three editions; the glory of Christ and the blessing of the reader.
—A. P. G. Wheaton, Illinois, 1954
Suggestions As To Sunday School Work
Inasmuch as the contents of this volume were originally prepared to assist the Sunday School teacher in his work, it may not be amiss to address a few words to that gallant company of Christians who are seeking to win the young to a saving and satisfying knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of gospel work amongst the young, yet very often this great service is one of the most neglected amongst the assemblies of God’s people. A few suggestions as to the importance of, the requirements in, and the arrangements for Sunday School work may be of help in “stirring up pure minds by way of remembrance.”
By the term “Sunday School Work,” we mean the endeavor on the part of Christian men and women to so present the gospel of the grace of God to the young that they may be led to a definite acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior, a bold and intelligent confession of Him as their Lord, and a growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord through obedience to His revealed will as found and taught in the holy Scriptures. In other words: that the unsaved may be won for Christ, and those who are saved, so taught in the word of God, that they shall be led on in ways well pleasing to their Lord and Savior. If this is not the main purpose of a Sunday School, then it has utterly failed to justify its existence.
We shall think of three things in connection with these suggestions as to Sunday School work. Firstly, the importance of this work. Secondly, the requirements in Sunday School work. Thirdly, the arrangements for the Sunday School.
1. Let us consider The importance of this work. This is seen in a seven fold way:
First, By the plain teaching of Scripture. God’s word has a lot to say about the necessity for instructing the young in the Scriptures. Read carefully the following passages: Deuteronomy 31:12-13; Joshua 8:35; Proverbs 8:17, 29:15, 22:6; Eccl. 12:1; Isaiah 40:11; Nehemiah 8:2, 3; 12:43; Psalm 34:11; 2 Timothy 3:15.
Second, By Christ’s own words and example. When, in the infinitude of His grace, the Son of God condescended to clothe Himself with humanity and become Man, He left us in no doubt, either by precept or practice, of the importance of this work. Read Matthew 18:1-10, 11:25-26; Luke 18:16; John 21:15; Matthew 21:15-16; Matthew19:13-15.
Third, By the receptivity of the Child. With the young there is a greater readiness to hear and willingness to respond to God’s word than with the old. This may be easily proved by inquiring from any audience of Christians how many were saved before they reached the age of seventeen. Statistics seem to indicate that 75 percent of Christians become such before reaching that age. Their minds are plastic, their hearts tender and the fear of man, due to pride, not so prevalent.
Fourth, By the solemn responsibility involved (Mark 16:15; John 3:3). Let us never forget that the new birth is an absolute necessity for all, both old and young. God has only one way of salvation for both the child and the adult. Let us, however, not make the mistake of expecting an adult experience from a child (1 Corinthians 13:11). The words of the great apostle, concerning our responsibility to preach and teach the word of God, should be carefully and prayerfully pondered. (1 Corinthians 9:16-22; Romans 10:13-15).
Fifth, By its blessed privilege. What a blessed thing to be able to plow and sow the good seed upon the virgin soil of their hearts! They have little to unlearn, few preconceived ideas to efface, and seldom wrong doctrines to combat.
Sixth, By its marvelous possibilities. Every child is a mighty factor for good or evil. Hundreds of God-honored servants of Christ were once little ones in Sunday School. Think of the possibilities of that class of boys and girls! Perhaps there is a possible Moody, Spurgeon, or Francis Ridley Havergal in that bright-eyed, restless youngster in your class!
Seventh, By its absolute necessity to any assembly of the people of God. The Sunday School is essential—
1. To its growth. Childless assemblies are dying assemblies. Where are the lambs? The Sunday School is the recruiting ground for the local church.
2. To its service. It provides an outlet for whole-hearted gospel service on the part of the believers. It is the training school for the preacher-to-be. The man who can hold the attention of a class of restless boys is being fitted for a wider sphere of service.
3. To its faithfulness to God, to His word, to the last commission of the Son of God and to the young, especially those of unsaved parents.
2. Let us think of The requirements in Sunday School work. Obviously there are two. First, boys and girls to compose it and, secondly, Christians to teach those boys and girls.
1. We shall consider, first, the matter of the boys and girls. These are to be found in every community, but the great question is: how are we to get them under the sound of the gospel? Here are a few suggestions that may prove useful.
First, hold the Sunday School in a suitable location, preferably in the midst of a residential neighborhood. Many a Sunday School has died, and many are dying because the location of it was determined by the assembly’s convenience instead of that best suited to a good Sunday School. The wise fisherman goes where the fish are—go thou and do likewise—go where boys and girls are!
Second, hold the Sunday School at the time most convenient to the majority of the children in the district. Remember, the Sunday School is for their convenience and not the assembly’s.
Third, Advertise in all the ways you can. A Sunday School is not a secret organization! Don’t wait for boys and girls to search you out, but go and search them out, and seek, by all means possible, to compel them to come in.
Fourth, Make the Sunday School attractive to them. Use means to get them and hold them. Children love good singing, led by a musical instrument. There are many bright gospel choruses available for this purpose. The use of object talks, blackboard sketches, lantern slides and competitions, etc., all help to this end.
Fifth, Have special meetings for them. Many assemblies arrange for a series of two weeks of evangelistic meetings for boys and girls each year. Many others have a meeting for them each Friday night, as this seems to be the best evening for this purpose. Should any other night be more suitable, it should be selected.
Sixth, Make the Sunday School, in a special sense, theirs. Go in for them and they will go in for you.
The next question is: How shall these boys and girls be kept coming to the Sunday School? At least nine suggestions follow which have been tried and proved.
First, Love them. No one is quicker to perceive and respond to love than a child. If you don’t love them, you will not want to win them (see 1 Corinthians 13).
Second, Feed them with the word of God and the gospel of the grace of God. The Gospel story has not lost its charm, nor has the Bible lost its fascination for the children. There are no stories that can compare in interest with those in the Book of books.
Third, Take a personal interest in each pupil. Make a note of and remember his birthday. Get to know his family, home and health, etc. He will then take an interest in you.
Fourth, Pray for each pupil in your class individually. This will deepen your interest in him. It is still true that “prayer changes things.” The quickest and most effective way to reach anyone is via the throne of grace.
Fifth. Welcome them as they arrive at the Sunday School. Let them see you are glad to see them. This, of course, will necessitate that you arrive early enough to do so. Habitual lateness is inexcusable in a Sunday School teacher.
Sixth. Visit their homes. This will enable the teacher to reach the parents with the gospel and, at the same time, give him the opportunity of finding out what sort of home environment the pupil has, so that suitable teaching can be given to fit the need.
Seventh. Take a note of, visit and follow up all absentees. Let them see that you miss them. It has been estimated that public school absentees average five percent, while Sunday School absentees run from 20 to 60 percent. The average hours of secular instruction in public schools each year is 1080, while the average hours of spiritual instruction in Sunday Schools per year is 26, less 20 to 60 percent due to absence.
Eighth. Encourage competition and reward those who bring new pupils as well as the faithful attenders. Have an outing now and then and also a yearly treat.
Ninth. Seek earnestly to win them for Christ and lead them on in His ways and they are yours forever.
2. Now let us consider the matter of the Christians who are to teach these boys and girls. Surely the second essential for a Sunday School is a staff of capable teachers. This is not anyone’s job, for it is not talkers or preachers, but teachers who are able to intelligently, clearly, reverently and faithfully impart the word of God that are required. The qualifications of the teacher should be at least seven-fold:
First. He must have a saving experience of the gospel he is seeking to impart to the pupil. He must know experimentally the truth he teaches. We are faced today with the tragedy of thousands of unsaved teachers seeking to impart to unsaved pupils the living word of God. The Savior solemnly declared: “The blind cannot lead the blind.” Each Sunday School teacher should make certain, on the authority of God’s word, that he is a regenerated child of God.
Second. He must have a consistent Christian life behind him. He should exemplify, in his character, the truth he teaches, or his teaching will be all in vain. Paul, the great teacher, could write to those whom he had taught and say, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you” (1 Thessalonians 2:10, compare Matthew 5:16).
Third. He must have a desire for and aptitude to the work. Not every Christian is fitted to teach a class of boys and girls. The ability to teach is one of the gifts of the risen Head to the Church which is His body (Ephesians 4:8-12). A gift, however, should be stirred up (2 Timothy 1:6) and exercised, and thus developed. It will soon be evident to the class whether you are gifted to teach or not, and the behavior of the class will soon inform you whether you have or have not the gift of teaching! Needless to say, the teacher should be able to maintain order in his class.
Fourth. He must be sincere in (1) His person. That is, he must be courteous, tactful, easy to approach; (2) His presentation of the lesson. He should teach as though he believed its truth. He should please God and not man and be true to his solemn responsibility as the Lord’s messenger. (3) His purpose. It should not be merely the sense of duty, but the constraining love of Christ that is the underlying motive for all his service.
Fifth. He must be studious. He must study at least three things: (1) His message. He must so search the Scriptures and prepare the lesson that its message will grip his own soul and be a power in his own life. (2) His man. That is, his pupils. He must study their needs, habits, homes, capacity, etc. (3) His method. He must study the art of simplicity, clarity and variety in his teaching. This can best be accomplished by (a) keeping up-to-date through reading, observing and visiting; (b) making an outline of the lesson, so that it can be taught logically and not haphazardly; (c) by physical aids such as maps, blackboard and objects, etc. A thing worth doing is worth doing well and the Lord’s work demands the very best in the way of preparation.
Sixth. He must be prayerful. He must pray for (1) Himself, that he may have humility, sympathy, patience and persistence with his class. (2) Light on the lesson. The Holy Spirit alone can teach and, as He remains ungrieved in the believer, He can lead him into all truth and make God’s word plain. (3) Power to so present the truth of his class that it shall accomplish the purpose that God desires. (4) The pupils to be reached. Name them individually before the throne of grace. Lay hold upon God on their behalf, for it is still true that “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Seventh. He must be self-sacrificial. The teacher’s service is worth exactly what it costs him in time, labor, prayer, study and money. Love is measured by sacrifice. We are told that “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). If the teacher loves his class, he will also give himself for it, and count nothing too great a sacrifice to win it for Christ and lead it on to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Persistence is a rare but necessary requirement for the faithful Sunday School teacher.
3. Now let us think of The arrangements for the Sunday School. Some Sunday Schools make the mistake of over organization, while others swing to the other extreme and have none at all. Let us maintain an even balance. God is a God of order and not of confusion. His injunction is: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). We will suggest seven things that make for this godly order.
First. As to the place. Any old place won’t do. Damp, dark, dismal and dirty would describe some Sunday School rooms. Compare your own home and the day schools with your Sunday School room. It should be conveniently located for the pupils, and kept as clean and as tidy and as comfortable as possible.
Second. As to aids for attention. Separate rooms for classes, are best, but where this is impossible, screens or temporary partitions or curtains will help to eliminate the inattention caused by what the pupils see. Eighty percent of inattention is due to what children see, and therefore we should try and remove as many barriers as possible to distraction. The teacher should use a quiet tone when teaching, so as not to disturb others.
Third. As to personnel. This will depend largely on the size of the Sunday School. The average requirement is: (1) A superintendent. His duty is to supervise generally the working of the Sunday School, to lead in the opening exercises and maintain order and discipline. He should lead and not dictate, and seek to work harmoniously with the teachers; (2) An assistant superintendent. This is usually one of the teachers who is appointed to act in the absence of the superintendent. This avoids confusion. (3) A secretary. His duties should consist of keeping the roll of the teachers and also of the pupils. He should make a note of all absentees and see that they are notified or visited. He should keep track of the pupils’ birthdays and notify the teachers so that they can be remembered. He should distribute any gospel literature at the close of the session. (4) Teachers. We have already dealt with the privileges and duties of these. (5) Assistant teachers. These should be recruited from the Bible class or the teacher training class. In case of the absence of any regular teacher they should be notified as early as possible so as to prepare themselves for the task. Any teacher, not able to be present, should give early notice of this so that a suitable substitute may be provided. A teacher training class should be organized to this end.
Fourth. As to classification of pupils. No hard and fast rule can be made, but the divisions that the day school makes are good. Group the pupils according to age and grade. There are four main divisions: (1) Primary, up to six; (2) Junior, 7 to 10; (3) Intermediate, 11 to 15; (4) Senior, 16 and up.
Fifth. As to the lessons to be taught. There is a great value in uniform lessons, that is, each class studies the same lesson. This scheme has many advantages. In the first place, it makes possible the systematic study of the entire Bible and the pupil is thus brought to see the unity of the word of God and its message—Christ in all the Scriptures. In the second place, the teachers can talk the lesson over with each other during the week. Thirdly, the teacher training class can study the lesson early in the week, and thus be prepared to teach it if required. Lastly, the superintendent can review the lesson with the whole Sunday School at the close of the session and discover what impression has been made. The Golden Text, or memory verse, can also be repeated by the whole school in unison.
Sixth. As to aids in securing attention and interest. Note the distinction between attention and interest. Interest is sustained attention.
1. How best to secure attention. Prepare the lesson early in the week. Introduce it in an interesting way. Use good illustrations. Use eye gate as much as possible. Learn to use a blackboard.
2. How best to maintain interest. The best method is to be interesting yourself. Maintain discipline in your class, for young folks appreciate discipline, and have no time for the one who cannot keep them in order. A few suggestions as to this might be in order: (a) Do it without apparent effort, (b) Avoid all hurry—don’t give too many commands, (c) Don’t see everything, the blind eye and deaf ear is often necessary, (d) Don’t threaten unless you mean to do what you say. (e) Enlist the sympathies of the class on the side of law and order, (f) Give the most mischievous something to do. (g) Private appeal to individuals is always better than a public one. (h) Be always on your best behavior yourself. Come on time and set a good example. Invite your pupils to your home sometimes. Take walks with them and talk with them; in other words, interest yourself in them and they will interest themselves in you.
Seventh. As to teachers’ meetings. There should be meetings, at a time convenient to all teachers, for prayer and for re- view of the next lesson, at which all assistant teachers should be present. It is often a good thing to have a conference twice a year for all the Sunday School teachers of a district. Arrange a topic with two or three speakers and a discussion to follow. Such a conference is very helpful for the mutual edification and encouragement of those engaged in the most important aspect of Gospel activity in this present day—the work amongst the young.