Dining on the Word
Peter BeckPeter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
- 2009 Jan 30
I love Asian food. From Chinese to Vietnamese, it’s all good. But, Thai food is my favorite. The flavors are exotic and complex. Different tastes intermingle to give your tastebuds a rollercoaster ride of culinary delight. Phad Thai, nua nom tok, yum gai, I could eat those things every day of the week. And, some day I may try.
But Thai food isn’t for everyone. For some it’s too spicy. For others the complexity and variety of flavor is foreign to their American sensibilities. For others, though, it’s simply that they’ve never had it. Like myself, once they’ve given it a try, nothing else quite measures up.
We see the same thing in church - people with very limited spiritual palates. Like those distressed souls we read about in the book of Hebrews who had barely tasted of the things of the Spirit, they’ve not really developed an appetite for the deeper truths of the Bible. The writer of Hebrews half-scolds, half-laments that while his readers ought to be imbibing of the full goodness of God’s truth, they still needed someone to spoon-feed them the elemental truths of the faith (Hebrews 5:12). They had settled for ‘Nilla Wafers’ when they should have been feasting on filet mignon - or Phad Thai for those of us with a taste for the unusual.
The Christian walk, from beginning to end, is one of continual growth and development. The Great Commission tells that we are to ‘make disciples,’ that is lead people to the Lord, ‘teaching them’ to observe all that Christ had commanded his first disciples (Matthew 28:20). But, that learning which takes place at the beginning of one’s faith is just the beginning. Paul reminds Timothy, himself a pastor at that time, to ‘study’ to show himself approved before God (2 Timothy 2:15). In the Old Testament, we read of Ezra, that great man of God who enjoyed God’s stamp of approval on all that he did, enjoying those blessings of God because he had dedicated himself to the study of God’s Word (Ezra 7:10).
We should take these admonitions and examples seriously. We do not want a church full of anorexic Christians who barely know the basics of the faith. We want to field an army of believers who have gorged themselves on the riches of the Bible. To accept anything less would be to fail the Great Commission. To accept anything less would be to fail the kingdom. To accept anything less would be a sin.
So, let me encourage you to commit yourself to studying God’s Word. Feast on God’s mercy. Nourish yourself with the teachings of Christ. Dine on the writings of the Holy Spirit.
Let me further encourage you to sate your spiritual appetite with not just private Bible reading, which we all should be doing anyway, but with teaching ministries of the church. We have gifted people in our churches ready to share with you what God has shown them in the Bible. Make plans soon to join a Bible study; my guess is that your church has one for people just like you. The glorious, and sometimes difficult, truths of God’s Word are for His people. They’re for me and they’re for you. So, be sure to study to show yourself approved.