Teaching the First Principles: Introduction

Part 1: Foundations*

As a new believer, I started a collection.

I heard a sermon here. Read part of the Bible there. Listened to a radio program here. Sat in on a Bible study there. I read a book here. A magazine article there. I collected teaching and ideas and principles and thoughts and doctrines. I didn’t know it at the time, but each teaching, idea, principle, thought and doctrine was like a brick. The building materials for a structure God wanted to help me build.

Eventually, it all began to pile up. It feel like I had a pile of disconnected pieces. But, I didn’t know how to fit them together. I didn’t have a foundation upon which to build a complete building. I just had a lot of disconnected pieces and parts.

Can you relate? Do you feel as though you’ve been listening and learning for years, but still aren’t clear how it all fits together? Do you sometimes think, “I’ve heard a lot of sermons and read a lot of books, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with all of it”?

I did.

But, fortunately, I had the opportunity to enter an ordered system of learning under wiser, more established believers. And something wonderful happened! A foundation was laid. All the ideas and principles of the Bible began to come together into a way of thinking—thinking Biblically. All the bricks began to fit together. A building was emerging that was growing stronger. It is a lifelong process that is not complete, but I now have order and direction.

This is the way it should be. This is what each new believer should get as he begins his journey as a disciple of Jesus. How do I know? That’s what is modeled in the New Testament by Jesus and His Apostles. I’ll explain this more as we go along, but for now, here’s my point: We need that foundation. And, we need to help others get that foundation.

That is why I believe so strongly in The First Principles Series. I’ve been buying, using, evaluating and writing curriculum for more than twenty years. And, I’ve never found anything as well-designed as The First Principles Series.

Here are some key ideas that make The First Principles Series so unique and helpful—we’ll expand on these in future posts:

  • It uses a new approach: Biblical Theology—focusing on the main teaching and emphases of the Apostles in the New Testament.
  • It uses a new method: Socratic discussion—learning to think Biblically by “circling around” key Biblical passages and ideas with the goal of developing both wisdom and life change.
  • It develops new skills: How to lead a good discussion, do Biblical theology, think Biblically and coach others to do the same.

If you’re a new believer, The First Principles Series will give you that solid foundation to build on. If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for a long time, and you can identify with my collection, The First Principles Series will help you pull things together and give you a clarity you’ve perhaps never had.

Teaching the First PrinciplesAction:

  • Read the introduction to Teaching The First Principles, pgs. 4-13. Discuss the following questions with your group or journal your own answers and thoughts.
  • How does the section entitled “The Need for Serious Ordered Learning” (pgs. 4-6) strike you? Does it convince you of this need, or not? Why is it so important to understand this “need”?
  • How would you explain to someone the importance of “the kerygma” and “didache”? (See pg. 6.)
  • What is the difference between biblical theology and systematic theology? (See “A New Approach” pgs. 7-8.) Most systematic theology is not bad—it’s more a matter of sequence. Biblical theology should come first, then systematic theology can be better evaluated. In other words, by doing Biblical theology, we can determine the core teachings and main emphases of the Apostles, and then we can determine how the categories and emphases of systematic theology compare.
  • What is the key benefit of using the Socratic method? (See third paragraph on p. 8.)
  • Read through the skill set on p.9. How is this a “new skill set” for many Christians? For you?

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* This series of posts was written by Shaun LePage to help leaders as they work through the study Teaching the First Principles, and as a tool for hovering around the key ideas related to the structure of the First Principles Series. For a list of the key ideas found in the series read Teaching the First Principles (Key Ideas).