As we consider the four main practices of the Christian disciple, as seen in our key verse of Acts 2:42 (They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.), we should remember that these have both individual and corporate implementation. Because the corporate practices are built on the activity of the individual, the next series of articles will consider the individual implementation of these habits of discipleship.
What is the apostles’ doctrine, anyway? Why do we say it is the Word of God? The Apostle Peter, speaking in reference to the writings of the Apostle Paul, said in 2 Peter 3:16, “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” The emphasized section talks about how the Apostles viewed each other’s work – as making Scriptures – or revealing the Word of God. (I do realize that Peter is on a different topic here, but his reference is still there and still in context).
Okay, so if it’s the Word of God, why should it be studied? After all, don’t Christians have the Holy Spirit inside them to guide them into all truth? YES! We do. And the Word of God, that is the Scriptures, are the mechanism that He uses to do just that. King David said in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God’s chosen King of His people recognized that it was the Scriptures that were to be his direction and guide for his life. In fact, David goes on to say in verse 125, “I am Your servant; give me understanding, that I may know Your testimonies.” So what are we actually studying?
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was [the] God.” [An incorrect translation has the word was “a” god – the Greek actually has the definite article “the,” which we drop in English.] That Word of God is none other than our Saviour Jesus Christ. So studying the Word of God is studying the life, the actions, and the works of Jesus. Does that mean we restrict ourselves to the red letters in some of our Bibles? Not at all. Consider His works – verses 3-5 say “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” And we need to comprehend everything about Him and His works. We need to get to know Him – through the Word.
Practically, what does this mean? Personally, I set aside time every day to spend time reading His Word, worshiping him, fellowshipping with Him, and praying in His name. It doesn’t have to be a long time. You don’t have to read the entire Bible in a week, for example. But if you were to read a chapter a day, that would take up about 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes in the evening if you read a chapter each time and prayed about it, then worshipped God for a few minutes. That is what is meant by practical discipleship.
How does one study the Bible then? Whenever I read, I ask three questions:
- What does it say?
- What does that mean (specifically to me)?
- What am I going to do about that?
Known as the Inductive Method, or Chapter Summary, it is a way to focus on specifics of what God wants to share with you personally, in terms of direction, things that He wants to perfect in you, and the like.
As you take the time to read the Scriptures, God will begin to reveal Himself to you through the words you read, and begin to speak to your heart and change your character. Reading the Bible is like eating a healthy, balanced meal every day.