Born to Teach God's Word

David is shown with his wife, Margaret, and girls,
from left, Abigail (5), Jesse (9), and Annie (4).

When RTS student David Arthur taught his first Sunday School class at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the pastors put him in a little room that would hold about ten people. A few weeks later, attendance had shot up to seventy-five and they had to move his class to the fellowship hall. Suddenly, people from all different age groups -- even many who had never come to Sunday School before -- were on fire for God's Word, realizing it was living and active.

An exceptionally gifted Bible teacher, David will soon graduate from RTS with a Master of Theology degree and return to Lookout Mountain as the Assistant Pastor of Adult Christian Education, eager to get back to what he was born to do -- teach God's Word to His people.

"I see how badly the church needs the Word of God," he says. "Some congregations hear it in the pulpit but nowhere else. I have a burning desire to teach God's Word in Sunday School and Bible study curricula in such a way that people will embrace it wholeheartedly."

Lookout Mountain Associate Pastor Frank Hitchings (RTS '91) can't wait for him to arrive. "He has an infectious love for God and His Word. Many Christians tend to turn to what the latest best-selling Christian writer has to say instead of turning to God's Word. I'm looking forward to David's steering us to put God's Word first."

GROUNDED IN THE WORD

David's passion for the Word is understandable. The son of well-known Bible teacher Kay Arthur, he grew up in an atmosphere most Christian parents dream about for their children. Jack and Kay Arthur started out as career missionaries in Guadalajara, Mexico, where David was born. Kay, however, developed severe health problems in the field, and the family had to return to the United States. Moving to Chattanooga, she began teaching Bible studies to teenagers in their living room. A few months went by and the teens' mothers began coming; a few more months passed and the fathers began attending.

By 1970, when David was only three years old, the Bible studies had become so popular that Jack and Kay felt the Lord leading them to buy about thirty-two acres outside Chattanooga and begin a ministry called Reach Out Ranch. Only two miles from the airport, they did not realize that twenty years later they'd be flying thousands of people in there. In 1984 Reach Out Ranch became Precept Ministries, now an internationally known organization.

Growing up on Reach Out Ranch was a young boy's dream. Basically a farm with two barns renovated into Bible study rooms and dorms, the ranch also boasted streams in which to wet a hook and acres of land to explore on bikes and go carts.

"It was a blast," recalls David fondly. "I grew up around Christian teens. When I was about eight, the ministry began a training program that brought college students and recent graduates to Reach Out Ranch for a year's study. Each day I had the privilege of eating with some forty young believers, hearing them talk about their faith and work out problems in their Christian walks."

By the time he was thirteen he had met hundreds of mature believers and seen the Christian life modeled, but he had never been pressured to make a decision for Christ. One night at a Precepts' summer "Boot Camp," he heard an evangelistic speaker pray, and it suddenly dawned on David that this man was really talking to somebody. He also realized that he was a sinner, an enemy of God, and he desperately needed Jesus.

"I was overwhelmed," recalls David softly, "and found myself at his feet crying bitterly because I realized I had been playing a game. This fellow was asking me not just to lead a moral life, but to know Christ. That night the Lord made me a new creature. I found myself jogging around the running track at Precepts laughing, crying, and singing at the same time. I felt like a huge sack of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders, and I didn't have to pretend any more. I knew now what Christians were talking about and whom they were talking to. That knowledge put a grin on my face that I still have not been able to wipe off."

After that, David had remarkable opportunities to grow spiritually. While his friends spent their summers working at McDonald's ® or lifeguarding at the pool, David went on mission trips. One summer he built an orphanage in Germany with Teen Missions and another summer did inner city evangelism in the Bahamas with Campus Crusade. At eighteen, he traveled to Vienna to work with Europa Mission, an organization smuggling Bibles, Christian literature, and money into Eastern European countries. He spent a summer printing material, packing it into hidden compartments in vehicles, and listening to hair-raising stories of the group's adventures.

For an upcoming trip to Romania, the group needed someone to drive an extra vehicle across the border to help distribute the materials and deliver money for underground orphanages to a contact person. David eagerly volunteered, but was in for a frightful experience.

Margaret, David, and their Israeli guide with author
Dorie Van Stone on a Precept tour of Israel.
The Arthurs in front of
the caves which contained
the Dead Sea Scrolls.

"The Lord really protected me," says David sheepishly. "I didn't realize how dangerous the job was. The men I was to meet were arrested and jailed in Yugoslavia, leaving me on my own in Romania and not knowing what had become of them. I happened to ask my contact, a total stranger, if he knew the Oglices, a couple that worked somewhere in Romania for Precepts doing underground Bible studies. Unbelievably, they were his best friends! He told me exactly the city and hotel room in which to find them. Only the Lord could have orchestrated that. Moreover, the couple's transportation to their underground Precepts meetings had fallen through, and here I was with a car and a full tank of gas --precious commodities in Romania. As I worked with them, God showed me the priceless value of His Word and how many people are without it."

WHAT IS MY CALLING?

After graduating from high school in 1986, David, like many of his peers, didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. His parents encouraged him to spend a year in Colorado at Raven Crest Bible Academy. It was there that he met his future wife, Margaret, who brought direction and purpose to his life. He refers to meeting Margaret as his "second salvation experience." They married in July, 1987, and at twenty, David became a husband.

They planned to enter Columbia Bible College in Margaret's hometown of Columbia, South Carolina, and prepare for the mission field in Eastern Europe, but the school discouraged students in their first year of marriage from entering. So they put missions on the back burner, and David settled for an internship with IBM and went to night school at the University of South Carolina.

But soon they were expecting their first child, and David needed a full time job. The circumstances were not promising; at 21, he had no college degree, and IBM was in the middle of a hiring freeze. But the Lord miraculously intervened, and he landed a job as an IBM account administrator in Columbia, beating out many older and much more experienced candidates. For four years the couple attended First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, where David gained a deeper interest in reformed theology.

By 1992, David had tired of the corporate world. His brother Mark asked him to work with him in a computer-related business, so he and Margaret moved back to Chattanooga, where he would eventually finish his college degree through an extension program of Covenant College. They began attending Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, where Frank Hitchings took David under his wing and gave him the opportunity to develop his teaching gifts.

"Frank was going out of town one Sunday and asked me to pop the R.C. Sproul tape in the VCR for his Sunday School class and lead the discussion that came with it," says David. "I figured I could handle that. But the more I looked at the questions, the more I realized that rearranging them and rewording them would get the points across better."

The rest is history. Frank asked David to fill in for him several times, and soon David was writing his own questions. Then they did away with the tape altogether, and David found himself writing lessons on Romans and teaching. Finally, he had found what God had created him for!

"I couldn't have been happier. But I discovered I was spending two and a half hours in my quiet time and none on our business. My wife would ask, 'How many accounts have you sold today?' I'd reply, 'Oh, I'm working on a couple. But you wouldn't believe what Romans says about…'"

ON THE ROAD TO MINISTRY

David soon left the computer world and, at his mother's invitation, joined his parents at Precepts Ministries as an apprentice in 1993. He was captivated by Bible study and wanted others to be captivated by it, too. His best friend, Brad Bird, whose parents had been with Precepts for twelve years, came with him. After only a year, the directors asked the two of them to plan and run a teen conference only two weeks away. Although they had little experience, their personalities meshed and the conference was a great success. Soon they were running fifteen conferences and two camps a year. Moreover, they began writing curricula and training material for Precepts conferences and took it all over the world.
Left, David leads a Bible study. Right, David with Dr. Ligon Duncan, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS, and former RTS professor.

Two years later David had become a director at Precepts, responsible for all the communications of the ministry. But he felt he was moving into leadership positions without being fully equipped. Besides, he missed the love of his life -- teaching -- since he was able to teach only once a week on Sunday.

David decided to enroll at RTS/Jackson for more training. While there, he has been a student intern for First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, working under Christian Education Director Donna Dobbs. In addition to teaching various Sunday School classes and heading up several projects, David has written six courses of inductive Bible studies for junior and senior high youth. Each grade studies a different New Testament epistle.

"Frankly," reveals Donna, "it's so thorough that an adult class could use it. I hope he produces more in the future. His studies are so good, first, because of his evident love for the Lord. Second, he has such a grand background in the Bible that he makes it look easy. He can lead an inductive Bible study and everybody in the room thinks they can do it. He makes studying the Bible so appealing that people want to learn with him; if he announces a study, they immediately say, 'Sign me up!'"

Senior Pastor Reverend Joseph Novenson is pleased that the Arthurs are joining the church's ministry. "We're very thankful that David and Margaret are coming to serve here at Lookout Mountain. They are both very gifted, but that's not why we're so excited. We realize that they have begun to see the spell-binding wonder of the Gospel personally applied. They've been teaching it correctly for years, but what they believe and what they live are fusing now. They've seen a little of the depth of their sin and the immensity of the sovereign grace of God, which will make them better servants of God."

Perhaps Donna Dobbs summarizes David best. "God has touched him in a special way and will use him in whatever David decides to do," she says. "He is the hardest working person I've ever been associated with. Although he has had a punishing load of coursework at RTS this year, I never heard about it. When he's at work, he's 100 per cent here. And we have put him through some paces at the church with several projects. But I get the impression that it's not work to him; he loves it. It's not just a job; he is filled with the joy of teaching the Word."

And so he is. How could it be otherwise when he was born to do just that?




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Last updated 3-23-1999.