42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Today we are going to focus on believers spending time in God’s Word.
We will briefly look at four benefits of being in God’s Word and hopefully you’ll be encouraged to continue or start to carve out a portion of your day to read the Bible.
Let me start with a silly question and then move on to the meat of the matter:
How many of you have noticed a sharp decline in the morals of our society in the past decade?
In our schools?
In our government?
That’s silly because everyone has. It’s very evident.
Now here’s the meat:
What about in our churches? We’ve seen a sharp decline here too.
What about within our Bible study classes and what we might call disciples, or followers of Him? Here too.
Our Bible study classes and what we might call disciples, or followers of Him?
What about in the “why we do” of our missions and evangelism? When asked, many within our churches simply can’t give a Biblical answer as to why these are important.
All of these flow back to the foundation, and that is found within the Bible.
When we have a low view of ultimate authority in the world, we see playing out.
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
When there is no absolute authority, people can and should do whatever they what. It’s only logical.
If the Bible is our authority, we not only have somewhere from which to start, but something from which we can base everything else upon.
And…if the Bible is our authority, we have a responsibility to read and learn from it.
This year we are celebrating the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and a part that we can celebrate is the fact that we can enjoy and read God’s Word in our own language, without depending upon someone else to read and interpret it for us.
Men like John Wycliffe translated scripture into the vernacular, only to be labeled as a heretic. His ashes and writings were burned and scattered down river.
William Tyndale, an early Bible translator, was charged and found guilty of heresy, was sentenced to death by strangulation, and his body was burned.
In 1402, Jan Hus was tried, convicted, and murdered for translating the Bible into Czech. It’s not surprising as he called the leaders of the Catholic Church of his day, “Disciples of the antichrist.”
These men, and many, many more over the centuries have given their lives for translating God’s Word in order that people like you and I might have an opportunity to read it in our own language and understand what God is telling us.
When we devote ourselves to the apostle’s teaching, we receive spiritual development.
13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
“you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God...”
Devoting ourselves to the apostles teaching means that we are not only reading the Bible, but are accepting it as the very Word of God!!
When we spend time in God’s Word we are learning for ourselves what He has to say to His people.
As verse 13 says, “as it actually is,” God’s Word is actually, or more literally, “truly” the Words of God.
If we are looking for spiritual development, we need to turn to the authority for it.
Think mentally back to . They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.
We’d like to think it’s just the younger generation that is struggling, but it’s not.
We bemoan the fact that our younger people are more spiritually illiterate than ever before;
those with kids aren’t attending church, but many of our senior adults struggle with the same sin issues as those in their twenties. Two of my pastor friends are having to deal with seniors in their respective churches who would rather live together than get married because, “it’s cheaper and they won’t lose their social security.”
They think more about their own comforts and government checks than they do about God’s Word.
Why is this? Because individual believers don’t spend enough time in God’s Word receiving His truth.
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Notice how Paul says “training in righteousness.”
Think about what that implies.
Righteousness doesn’t just happen.
We need to be trained in it. A good way to be trained in something is to do it daily.
Let me say something that may be a little hurtful to you or someone you love:
You’d be surprised how many Christians I hear saying this sentence: “I don’t like to read.”
Let me say something that may be a little hurtful to you or someone you love, but you need to hear it:
This is not across the board, but what they are saying is this: “I have a difficult time reading, it’s not enjoyable to me, or I have a reading disability and these excuses are more important to me than figuring out how I might get a portion of God’s Word each day.”
This is not across the board, but what they are saying is this: “I have a difficult time reading, it’s not enjoyable to me, or I have a reading disability and these excuses are more important to me than figuring out how I might receive a portion of God’s Word each day.”
That may sound incredibly hurtful, insensitive, or uncaring. The opposite is true. I say it because I care. You do need to be reading a portion of God’s Word. How else are you going to be trained in righteousness?
Get the Bible in an “easy to read version, an audio Bible, the Bible on DVD, listen or watch it on YouTube, or call me and I’ll read it to you.” Friends, reading the Bible for spiritual development is that important!
12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Notice how verse 12 uses the words, “penetrates,” and “judges.”
God’s Word cuts right through us, showing us how to live and convicting us of sin.
When we devote ourselves to the apostle’s teaching, our minds get transformed.
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Notice how Paul says, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Devoting ourselves to reading the Bible will change us because we learn what God expects and demands, and one who has the Holy Spirit living in them will desire to please the master.
This devotion to reading and absorbing the Bible will change us. Notice how it changes us: by the renewing of the mind.”
Instead of learning new rules and laws, the Holy Spirit gives us a desire to become more like Him through the reading of the Bible.
This is why so many believers struggle with living in sin.
They know what the Bible says, but find it easier to ignore it by not reading it, or being around anyone who does read God’s Word.
You can’t help but get convicted when reading God’s Word, which should cause us to repent, thus being transformed into that which He desires.
Check out the last part of
“Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is...”
When we transform our mind to the things of Christ through the reading and studying of His Word, we’ll know and learn what He has for us.
The same ones who will complain about not knowing what God’s will is for their life is are generally the same one who don’t spend very much time reading God’s Word and seeking Him in prayer.
When we devote ourselves to the apostle’s teaching, we dispel spiritual ignorance.
Dispel: Make disappear.
Synonyms: banish, eliminate, get rid of
Friends, our Christian culture is spiritually ignorant. Many people wouldn’t know a false teacher if he was wearing a shirt that said, “I’m a false teacher.”
They simply cannot discern correct teachings. Why?
Because they haven’t devoted themselves to the apostles teaching. They aren’t in God’s Word.
3 Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
tells us why so many won’t read OR won’t apply what they do read.
“They sought to establish their own (righteousness), they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”
Check out this quote from false teacher John Hagee
“We all dream of absolute forgiveness of our transgressions. To attain this pardon, we must do our part, and He promises to do His.” @HageeMinistries
Spending time in God’s Word works to eliminate spiritual ignorance.
Do you know why people have a hard time finding the OT prophetic books? Most are baby Christians who don’t read the Bible enough to know where the books are. It’s funny because many of these same people can tell you the starting five for the Wildcats for going back 10 years, can list off the top of their head every lure in their tackle box and which fish you use each for, or the time and channel of their favorite shows each day of the week.
We know about those things because we care.
The same is true about the Bible.
Learning scripture gets rid of spiritual ignorance.
Cleanliness is next godliness is not in there.
“I’ve been baptized, so I’m okay” is not in there.
“At least I’m not Hilter” isn’t the standard.
And as much as we love and believe the “whosoever” in , we don’t act upon it because we don’t actually believe
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Daily Bible reading dispels spiritual ignorance.
Why aren’t we sharing our faith?
We aren’t reading our Bibles.
Why don’t we disciple new believers?
We aren’t reading our Bibles.
Why do we have a weak Western Church?
We aren’t reading our Bibles.
God’s Word also gives us a mighty weapon.
We’ve read verse 42, but take a look at the next verse:
43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
When they were following the apostles teaching, the result was that everyone around them knew it!
“Everyone was filled with awe.”
Notice that they didn’t have this power prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit.
“wonders and miraculous signs were done
In fact, everything THEY did proved to be with the wrong motives, or was motivated by worldly desires.
Then came the Holy Spirit and they were changed.
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the evidence showed itself.