Someone once noted that if everyone in America decided to read their Bibles at once, we would have the worst dust storm in history. America is by and large biblically illiterate -- even in the church. This is a problem because the church is the only institution Jesus promised to build and bless (see Matthew 16:18), and part of the way He does that is by the Word.
The apostle Paul's most famous analogy of the church is that we are the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). But as a body, we need to eat -- we need nourishment -- and that nourishment comes from the Word of God (see Job 23:12; Jeremiah 15:16; Matthew 4:4).
Let's look at the early church's relationship to the Scriptures as described in Acts 2:42: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." As we pull apart this verse, there are three statements I want to make regarding your relationship with the Bible.
First, to grow, you must learn. Doctrine in Acts 2:42 simply means good, wholesome instruction or truth that is taught. The problem in the church today is that there is an absence of doctrine. A lot of people don't want to learn--they just want an experience. But remember what God said through the prophet Hosea? "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). And Peter commanded to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). In order to grow, you must learn doctrine.
Why? Because if you're going to put your life in God's hands, don't you want to know a little bit about Him? He gives His self-disclosure, His full revelation, mainly in His Word, so the way you get to know Him is through the Scriptures. To grow, you must learn.
Second, to learn, you must hear. Notice in Acts 2:42 that the doctrine the church adhered to was the apostles' doctrine. What does that mean? Since they didn't have the New Testament at the time, the apostles took Old Testament Scriptures and applied them in a New Testament setting.
Read through Acts 2:14-28, for example. Notice in this passage that Peter read chunks of Scripture, letting it speak for itself rather than trying to whip up people's emotions. He and the other apostles believed that there is power in the Word itself to change a life. And people listened and were transformed. In general, that's how you learn the Word: by hearing. As Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
Third and finally, to hear, you must commit. Verse 42 tells us the church continued steadfastly in doctrine. In other words, what they started with, they continued with. Some people think that when they crack open the Bible, it's going to hit them like a jolt of adrenaline--"Bam! That's God's word to me." Though sometimes that does happen, I've found that most of the time, it's more like taking vitamins. Nobody who takes a vitamin expects it to give them a sudden surge of strength. They take vitamins to improve their health over the long haul. It's a cumulative effect.
So my exhortation to you is continue in the truth. Make God's Word a priority in times of delight as well as in times of distress. Put one foot in front of the other and go to Bible study. Go to church. Keep reading that text. When you persevere in this way, you'll find that when you come up against all the things that happen in life -- bad news from the doctor, the loss of a job or a relationship -- it won't crush you. You will resort to a promise of Scripture that holds you firm.
The Bible is the primary way you'll hear from the Lord. So learn it to be mature. Hear it to be instructed. Believe it to be safe. And continue in it to be holy and healthy.
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