Luke describes the evangelist Philip’s inspired teaching plan at Samaria. His focus was preaching the Word, which is identified as teaching about Christ (Acts 8:4-5). A more detailed description of what this entails is given in the conversion account of Samaritans and Simon the Sorcerer. When Philip taught the Samaritans, including Simon, he covered three important subjects: “When they believed Phillip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (8:12).
When Bobby Bates designed Back to the Bible, he used this model in its development. Bringing souls to Christ should always involve the “name of Jesus Christ,” which means a lesson on authority (Back to the Bible Book 1). It should involve teaching the sinner about the “kingdom of God,” which means a lesson about the church of Christ (Back to the Bible Book 2). Any attempt at conversion that does not include the church for which Christ died should be avoided. Finally, winning souls to Christ must include baptism (Back to the Bible Book 3).
Someone might ask, “Why was the church was not preached in Acts 2?” All that was preached is not recorded. Peter preached “many other words” (2:40). Since they were added to the church (2:47), it is safe to say that some of those words included the church since they were its first members. It was the church’s birthday. Who can suppose that this was not a part of Peter’s sermon? Further, the King and His kingdom are mentioned in Acts 2:29-34. The kingdom is another term for the church. In addition, since the church was in her infancy, not everything about the church was known in Acts 2.
Preaching “Christ” is not just a biographical sketch of His life; it also includes delivering His organized plan of salvation for sinners. The Great Commission does not say go and read the Bible but go and “preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). This requires a strategy. Is there a better place to go than the inspired evangelist Phillip? The reason every Christian needs to have a method (like Back to the Bible, Does It Matter, or Open Bible Study) is to ensure that nothing important is omitted. One does not have to know everything to become a Christian, but one must know about the authority, the church, and how to be saved.
Chase Park church of Christ, Huntsville, Alabama: Pat Cowden (preacher) reports, “One of teenagers who was baptized since our seminar with the Whitacres had a classmate say, ’I wish someone would study the Bible with me.’ Although she has been a Christian less than two months she said, “I will!” She then asked for help from one of our ladies who is comfortable studying with folks using Back to the Bible to help her prepare. This young lady studied Lesson 1 last week and is scheduled to study Lesson 2 with her friend this week!
“That, my friends, if what it is all about. What a wonderful example from this newborn babe in Christ to all of us. May God continue to bless the Whitacres as they encourage us to do the right thing by sharing our faith with others. We have multiple studies in the closing stages and hope to be able to report some good news soon.”
Beattie Road church of Christ, New Albany, Georgia: Charles Harris (preacher) reports, “Darren Kauffman became interested in the church at Beattie Road after reading my newspaper articles. He visited a service and was overwhelmed by the warm welcome he received. He came back the next week because a few members had sent him cards thanking him for visiting. By the next week, he was on our card list for the congregation and began being ‘card bombed.’ The cards meant a lot to him. He kept coming back to services and would be taken out for lunch by different members. From those efforts I was able to set up a Bible study which led to baptism into Christ. He has been bringing his brother with him to services. Hopefully, we will begin studying with him soon.”
Oak Hill church of Christ, Rome, Georgia: Steve Murdock (elder) reports, “We keep working hard here in Rome. The young lady who was restored last week brought in two more ladies to begin personal Bible studies with her. All three have been worshipping with us on Sunday mornings. Praise God. It is our hope that one will be restored and the other baptized. All total, we conducted seven personal Bible studies, sent out about 150 compassion cards, and trained about 145 from the pulpit. We are currently in Book 2 of the Back to the Bible series. Some benevolence work was done by several members—two yards mowed, one home gutters cleaned, and transportation to worship service and to work provided for several.”
Siwell Road church of Christ, Mississippi: Derek Broome (preacher) reports, “We had another great week. Hundreds of cards were sent out this week. We also went out and delivered our New Mover Baskets for August. Each door was so different. Most were excited that we stopped by. Several indicated that they wanted more information about the church. We are going back this week to follow up with those that wanted more information. We continue to pray for open doors.”
Eielson church of Christ, Alaska: James Haynes (preacher) reports, “Summers in the interior Alaska last about three months. This time of year, residents are making last minute trips, doctor appointments, repairs, etc. Thus far, we continue in prayer for souls as we have done for over a year. Cards have been focused on brethren we are hoping to restore. One Wednesday night, I put six or seven names on the board with addresses and encouraged those present to go pick out cards to send them. In mid-October, I will present a special Sunday class in which I will walk everyone through Bobby Bates’ material. I hate that it is 45 days from now but so many are going to be away. We have had a number of new visitors lately. A family of seven have come the last two weeks. Last week a young family (mom, baby, and another from Kentucky) visited. Her husband was on base. They just moved here a few days ago. A lady with twin daughters has contacted me several times and wants to start taking her children to Bible class. She is a Catholic. I have conversed with her several times. So there are a lot of positive things happening. Old Joe is working on some ideas for a special table to be used to house materials and make them easily available for all. Brother, the church here has grown and is growing. The desire to change the culture was regularly discussed at the men’s meeting. I believe all are onboard.”
Sevierville church of Christ, Tennessee: Kevin Ruiz (preacher) reports, “One of our elders and his wife recently sat down with some friends and went through the first Back to the Bible lesson. They reported that the study went well, and they are scheduled to continue with the second lesson this Tuesday. Our new converts’ class and mentor studies continue to go well, and we have been studying through brother Bates’ Growing in Christ lessons as a congregation.”
Deerfoot church of Christ, Birmingham, Alabama: Richard Harp (preacher) reports, “We have continued our Sunday morning study on the importance of personal evangelism. The lesson was “motivated by the faithful.” We have three ongoing studies at this time. Two were canceled this week, but one was conducted. Michael Dykes studied Book 2 with his niece and her husband. They were blown away that they had never heard the material mentioned. Please pray for this study. We have begun to receive contacts with addresses and cards are being sent to them including five cards already written for one visitor we had in services yesterday! The ship is turning!”
East Homer church of Christ, Alaska: Steve Cannon (preacher) reports, “I preached Lesson 3 over Back to the Bible Book 2. We had a visitor so we got an address and will mail cards tomorrow. We have decided to order the Heart to Heart mail-out, and we look forward to the doors it will open.”