June 9, 2017
The Ultimate Owner's Manual
By Skip Heitzig
Someone once noted that if everyone in America decided to read their Bibles at once, we would experience the worst dust storm in history. America has by and large become a nation of biblical illiteracy. Now, teaching the Bible has always been central to the biblical mission of God's church. The church is the only institution Jesus promised to build and bless, and He does that, in part, by the Word.
Perhaps the most famous analogy of the church is that we are the body of Christ. And as a body, we need to eat; we need nourishment. That nourishment comes from the Word of God. As Job said, "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12, KJV). Jesus, quoting the Scriptures, said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
Acts 2:42 shows us the model relationship we as the church should have with the Scriptures. Speaking of the early church, it says, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine." From this verse, I want to make three statements concerning our relationship with the Scriptures.
First, to grow, you must learn. Notice the verse says they continued in the apostles' doctrine. The word doctrine has been so marginalized, but it simply means good, wholesome instruction or truth that is taught. And we get doctrine through the Bible; it's the owner's manual to life. Yet so many people do with it what they do with most owner's manuals: toss it or ignore it; that's why there is a crisis of biblical knowledge in the American church.
Remember what God said through the prophet Hosea? "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). To grow, you must learn. If you want to get to know God, He principally gives His self-disclosure, His full revelation, in His Word. That's why we study it. That's why we continually seek to apply it and understand it.
Second, to learn, you must hear. Notice that the early church continued in the apostles' doctrine; it wasn't just any doctrine. The apostles taught the people what the Old Testament said about what they were going through at that time; they took Old Testament Scriptures and applied them to a New Testament setting. In other words, the preaching of the apostles was expository preaching—that is, they let the text speak for itself, believing in the power of the text more than the personality of the teacher (see Acts 2:14-21, 23-28).
So they preached, they spoke, people listened, and lives were changed. People grow by learning and learn by hearing: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Third, to hear, you must commit. We are told in Acts 2:42 that the early church continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, meaning theypersevered constantly. In other words, this wasn't an activity they started and then eventually left. What they started, they continued with. The interesting thing about truth is that after you stop hearing it for a while, you start hardening and growing deaf to its instruction. Unless you are constantly being exposed to the truth of Scripture, what you hear day in and day out takes over in terms of its influence.
Some people expect the Bible to hit them like a jolt of adrenaline, and while that's sometimes the case, for the most part it's more like taking vitamins: you see improved benefits, stamina, and strength over the long haul. So my exhortation to you is continue making the truth a priority. Keep going to church. Keep reading that text. God has given us His Word that we might know Him. 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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