Introduction: How should we share the word? My local church seeks to reduce all barriers to people visiting. We give them a close place to park, if they dress informally they will not feel out of place. We give them a gift, and personally welcome them. I agree with this approach. On the other hand, I was recently in a discussion with a local pastor about racism. He told me that I should feel comfortable because I was in a “safe space.” I responded that our discussion should not be a “safe space.” I quoted Proverbs 27:17 that “iron sharpens iron.” Which approach to sharing the word of God is appropriate? Or, are both appropriate depending on the situation? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1.         The Hammer, Fire, Wheat

  1.         Read Jeremiah 23:28. Is speaking God’s word faithfully compared to straw or wheat? (Obviously, wheat.)

  1.         How do you react to eating straw versus wheat? (One tastes terrible (to humans) and has little nutritional value.)

  1.         If God’s word is like wheat, should people have a negative reaction to hearing it?

  1.         Read Jeremiah 23:29. To what is God’s word compared here? (Fire and a hammer that breaks rocks.)

  1.         Does that sound like a safe space to you?

  1.         Let’s think more deeply about this. Is the rock and hammer the impact that God’s word has on my life or the life of those to whom I am speaking?

  1.         Read Jeremiah 23:14. Who could use some fire and hammer in this situation? (Both the speaker and the listener. The speaker (the prophets) are adulterers and hypocrites – they walk in lies. At the same time, their words encourage evil-doing, so that no one turns from evil. Both reflect Sodom and Gomorrah.)

  1.         Read Matthew 7:3-4. What warning do we find about “hammer and fire” witnessing? (We need to be careful that a hammer and fire has already been applied to our life.)

  1.         Read Matthew 7:5. Should the speck be removed? (Yes, this is not a warning against giving advice to bring others closer to God, it is a warning against being a hypocrite.)

  1.         Let’s dig deeper again. If God’s word has been a hammer and fire in our life, what will likely be our attitude in sharing truth with others? (If we realize the difficulty of addiction to sin, our fire and hammer will be kind and sympathetic.)

  1.         Read Matthew 7:6. Has Jesus changed topics? If not, what does it mean to refrain from throwing pearls to pigs? (I think He is telling us that we should not witness to certain people. All that will result in witnessing to them is that we are attacked.)

  1.         This sounds tough! It seems contrary to our normal instructions. Notice that this chapter starts out ( Matthew 7:1) with a warning about judging. Doesn’t the conclusion that some are dogs or pigs require judging?

  1.         How will we know when not to witness? (This is where we need the discernment of the Holy Spirit.)

  1.         When you read about the witnessing of the disciples, how many times were they attacked for sharing the gospel?

  1.         Were they not paying attention to this text? How do you explain this? (Read Proverbs 9:7-9. Some Spirit-inspired judgment is necessary. This advice applies when we are speaking to one or two. Speaking to large groups is a different matter.)

  1.         Complete Patience

  1.         Read 2 Timothy 4:1-2. What does it mean to be ready to teach the gospel “in and out of season?” Is there a season for evangelism? (We should always be prepared to “preach the word.”)

  1.         Let’s focus on the second half of 2 Timothy 4:2. The three words used are “reprove, rebuke, and exhort.” Does this sound more like fire, hammer, or wheat? (These all sound like words intended to change conduct.)

  1.         Once again, is too much emphasis placed on creating “safe spaces?”

  1.         Many years ago a fellow from a neighboring church thought our approach to soul-winning was too safe. He said with pride that they “preached the straight gospel.”  When I asked how that was working out, he admitted that they had not converted anyone in a long time. What is your experience in soul-winning?

  1.         Perhaps the answer to the last two questions is lurking in the very last part of 2 Timothy 4:2. What kind of attitude should we have in sharing the gospel? (“Complete patience.”)

  1.         Why do you think “teaching” was added to “complete patience?” (“Doctrine” is another way to translate “teaching.” That tells me that in our patient approach, we are not to deviate from what the Bible says. There is a “straight gospel” to preach, but we bring it with complete patience. That suggests that we go light with the hammer.)

  1.         Blessings From the Word

  1.         Read 2 Timothy 3:15. How will Bible study improve you? (It will help you to better understand salvation, the method by which we are saved from eternal death. It will make you wise in that regard.)

  1.         Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. How does Bible study improve your life overall? (It makes you complete, it equips you for every good work.)

  1.         When I was young I was told that studying the Bible would make me smarter. I had a keen interest in being smarter and thinking more logically. Does this text promise that? (It does not say it will increase our native intelligence, but I believe it to be true in my life.)

  1.         Read John 17:13-15. This is Jesus speaking about His followers. What is Jesus’ goal for us? (Joy.)

  1.         What is Satan’s goal for us? (Hate and evil.)

  1.         What is Jesus prepared to do about this threat? (His goal is to “keep [us] from the evil one.”)

  1.         Read John 17:16-17. What does studying the Bible do for us according to these verses? (It sanctifies us “in the truth.” The Bible is the source of our truth.)

  1.         John 17:14 tells us that the world “hates” us because we “are not of the world.” That means that we disagree with the world. Have you noticed that the world now routinely accuses us of hate?

  1.         What is the answer to that charge? (The truth of the Bible. That will reassure us that the name-calling is a lie. It is to be expected when we follow Jesus.)

  1.         This is something that has only recently become clear to me. I’ve thought that Christians who told me how much the world hated them were lacking in emotional intelligence – one of the skills taught by the Bible. These days I hear pagans say terrible things about church members when it is completely illogical. Just recently pagans were burning flags and Bibles as part of a street protest. Why would protesters burn a Bible?

  1.         Is it because the Bible gives Christians confidence in their views? Because it gives us joy?


  1.         Read 2 Peter 1:2-3. What does studying the Bible (knowing God) do for us? (It gives us grace and peace. It grants to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”  It calls us to “glory and excellence.” Talk about a special book! Talk about a wonderful message!)

  1.         Friend, I don’t think God calls us to a “safe space” message. Rather, He calls us to share the message of the Bible with complete patience. Understanding the Bible will give us grace, peace, joy, assurance, glory and excellence.  We will not be trembling to find safety, we will rejoice in the power and friendship of the great God of heaven! Do you want that? Why not repent and believe right now?

  1.         Next week: Ministering Like Jesus.