Last week we started a series on spiritual growth. This series will not be aimed just to new Christians, but to all of us in every spiritual stage from “infant” to “young adults” on the way to the maturity that the Hebrew writer urged us toward (Heb. 5:14). This series will be taking cues for this important aim of growth from what Acts 2:42-27 says the first Christians did; and the first thing mentioned is how they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings.
We don’t, of course, have any modern day apostles, since one of the qualities of apostleship is having been an eyewitness of the resurrected Jesus. However, we do have their teachings (life of Christ, how to become a Christian, teachings about the church, references to the OT, moral living, etc.) in the form of God word, the Bible.
First of all, please notice that we must be devoted to these teachings, in order to really grow. Devotion implies a love for, a loyalty to, and perseverance in. It is not a hit and miss sort of thing; rather, it is something done at every opportunity, something given a priority over lesser things, born out of an intense interest and love. So, be devoted, learn to love it, cultivate an intense interest in it, and “listen” at every opportunity.
Second, we need to realize that there are a number of approaches and “levels” in knowing God’s word. Let me list a few (in no particular order).
- Knowing the names and order of the books (so you can follow your teachers as they direct you to various places in the Bible)
- Learning and knowing the basic plot line of the whole Bible (knowing sequences of events, covenants, etc. is important)
- Learning the outline of each book (a step toward knowing the teachings of the book)
- Learning the outline of the life of Christ from the Gospels
- Learning the major stories of the Bible
- Figuring out what the stories (OT and NT) teach and how they apply to today
- Committing to memory important verses for comfort, teaching, and guidance
- Figuring out Biblical terms and their Biblical definitions (e.g., redemption, atonement, holiness, the church, etc.)
- Getting to know the map of the Biblical world (places are often very important)
- The ability to pull wisdom and practical guidance from Biblical examples
- Getting/seeing the connections between various passages in the Bible
- Seeing the additional information that different passages provide to a Biblical topic
- Seeing and understanding the metaphors and parables (OT and NT)
- The ability to pull teachings, stories, parables, etc. to teach, refute, and deepen understanding
- Few of these things can be done in a day, unless you’ve got a photographic memory. Most of them take years of regular, devoted study and meditation, and the earlier in life you start, the better. But each effort is well worth the growth of our spiritual lives. Such studies and understandings armor and arm us better with each “link”.
Would you like to grow? Being a diligent, devoted student of the Scriptures is a major key to spiritual growth. And it’s about more than just coming to Bible study.