Devoted to the Apostle’s Teaching

Devoted to the Apostle's Teaching

Today’s reading is from James Montgomery Boice with questions I’ve developed from the text. Enjoy!

“Acts 2:42–47 describes the early church. It is presented as a model church … [I]t was a model in many important respects … These verses tell what developed in the church and how it functioned in those remarkable days after Pentecost …

The key verse is verse 42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

The first phrase says that they devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching.” In other words, this was a learning, studying church. There were a lot of other things Luke could have said about it … Nevertheless, the first thing Luke talks about is the teaching. He stresses that in these early days, in spite of an experience as great as that of Pentecost, which might have caused them to focus on their experiences, the disciples devoted themselves first to teaching.

It could have been a temptation for the early believers to look back to Pentecost and focus on the past. They might have remembered the way the Holy Spirit came and how he used them to speak so that those in Jerusalem each heard them in his or her own language. They might have longed to experience something like that again. They might have been praying, “Please, Lord, do something miraculous again.” This is not what we find. They are not reveling in their past experiences. Instead, we find them reveling in the Word of God.

I suggest that this is always the first mark of a Spirit-filled church. A Spirit-filled church always studies the apostolic teaching. It is a learning church that grounds its experiences in and tests those experiences by the Word of God.

It is also interesting that the object of their study was the apostolic teaching. The apostles were people specifically chosen by Jesus Christ to remember, teach about, and authentically record the events and meaning of his ministry …

Many people had witnessed the events of Christ’s ministry, but the Lord did not choose all of them. He chose a certain number …

[So,] when Peter and John and the other apostles spoke, saying that Jesus Christ did so-and-so and taught so-and-so, the early Christians could receive their words as an authentic record and interpretation of Jesus’ life and rightly devote themselves to studying it. They studied this teaching and tested it against the Old Testament.

We live in a different age, of course. We live thousands of years after this teaching. Peter is not with us. James was martyred. John has died. So have all the others. Even Paul, who came along later, has gone. How is it possible for us to focus on the apostolic teaching? These men gave us the New Testament. This is the deposit of their teaching. When it came time to collect the books that were to become our New Testament, the criterion by which that was done was whether they came from the apostles or bore the apostolic blessing …

Let’s put that in terms easy to understand: A Spirit-filled church is always going to be a Bible-studying church. Those two things go together.

There have been periods in history when the Bible has fallen on hard times and been neglected by God’s people. These have been dry ages for the church. There have also been periods when the Bible was not always readily available, sometimes because of political pressures. Sometimes even church officials kept the Bible from God’s people.

Nevertheless, wherever the church has been greatly blessed, where the Spirit of God has come upon God’s people and the gospel has gone forth in great power and people have responded to it, these have always been ages in which the Bible has been studied carefully. Why? It is because the closer men and women come to God the closer they want to get to where he speaks to their hearts, and that is in the Bible.

What is true of the church is true for individuals also. If you are Spirit-filled, then you will be drawn to this Book … Because the Holy Spirit, whose chief task is to bear witness to Jesus Christ, inevitably draws the people of God to Jesus through the Scriptures.

This means, among other things, that evangelical, Spirit-filled, Bible-oriented churches should offer many ways for people to get to know the Bible. It must be done through the preaching. In fact, that is the preacher’s chief task: to expound the Word of God. He is to study it and then teach it to others. It may be done through Bible classes and home Bible studies. We are going to see that the early Christians worshiped in their homes. So I am sure they studied the Bible in their homes. If we had been there, we would have said, “They’re having home Bible studies.”

Boice, J. M., Acts: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1997) pp. 55–62.

 

To consider:

  • The Scriptures are of supreme importance to the life of anyone who truly seeks to follow Jesus.

The feelings that we have, the things we feel the Holy Spirit is leading us to do, the opinions we form about current events, etc. must all be subject to the scrutiny of God’s Word.

God will never contradict His Word and the objective truth of the Bible must always supersede any subjective thoughts we may have.

What place does reading Scripture hold in your life? Is it a priority?

What place does God’s Word have in the decisions you make?

  • Because the teachings of the Apostles (our New Testament) were very important to the early church, they devoted themselves to them.

They valued them. And because they valued them, they built their schedules around the spiritual discipline of studying them.

Do you?

What does your answer say about the esteem in which you hold the Scriptures?

DON’T give yourself a pass here! Remember: we all find time to do the things that are most important to us.

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Comments

  1. Technology has provided an easy way to transport a copy of the Bible everywhere I go. My trusty cell phone can display multiple versions of Scripture and access to my go-to reference resources with a few swipes of my finger! Yeh! No need to carry a 50 lb backpack of paper around to have what I want at any given moment. Seriously, digital Scriptures are a blessing in many ways and I believe in certain contexts they are indispensable. But for me, a handheld device will never replace a printed copy of God’s word. That and a notebook are essential tools for my reading and retention of timeless truth. You see, I believe that the Holy Spirit of God whispers and at time shouts to me through reading, studying and while hearing the preaching of God’s word. When that happens I need to write it down as soon as possible. It’s not just to avoid forgetting what I heard, but to also prevent the enemy from stealing it (Mk4:15).
    A serious student will devote time to studying and do whatever is necessary to retain what was learned so when the time of testing comes or the chance to apply the knowledge is presented, he or she will not be ashamed.
    As time has gone on I see less Bibles and fewer note takers among God’s people. Perhaps they have been blessed with a better memory or they possess the ability to test well under pressure. That’s a great gift to have!

  2. There will never be a more profitable investment of time than those we willingly offer in worship at the foot of Him who is, the LIVING WORD ( John 1:1-3 ). Each moment we present ourselves in humble submission, His Holy Spirit changes us into someone more like our master, kind of like undergoing a round of spiritual dialysis. Most days we can’t foresee how He will specifically use His directives. But because of His Sovereign knowledge and perfect love, He equips us for the moments and days He knows are up ahead. As for me personally,I am desperate for His direction. I know the limitations of my self-directed intellect and malleable emotions. I am helpless, hopeless, and adrift on an open sea without His Word. Time in the Bible is essential for me as a child of God so that I may know what He has said and be equipped for daily warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil ( John 16:33; Matt.4:1-10 ). Jesus modeled this during His earthly life. Do I really think I can run on empty and have success against the forces of darkness?

  3. READING THE WORD IS HELPING ME IT IS TO BAD THAT PEOPLE DO NOT BELIVE IN GOD HAVING GOD IN MY LIFE MEANS ALOT TO ME .I ALWAYS PRAY AND TALK TO HIM .HE IS ALWAYS THERE TO LISTEN TO ME.

  4. Kathryn Boisvert : January 15, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Very true, Kerin, that I cannot run on empty and still expect to be victorious over evil and darkness! When I was a baby Christian in 1980 I made it a point to memorize scripture. I’m so thankful I started that discipline because although I have many many many many more to memorize I’m glad at least I have a foundation. The Holy Spirit hascalways honored that. But if I need encouragement he brings forth that scripture. Whenever I try to encourage someone else he also does the same there. I’ll be honest I am by no means a Bible scholar but I do love the Word of God and I depend upon it!! This is my litmus test -I try to run everything by the word of God. And no, I am not perfect. But I try really hard to please my Lord and Savior with my life choices!

  5. Brenda Riegel : January 15, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Spending time in God’s word is becoming more and more of a staple for me. I have often kept a journal of my Bible reading, studies, and thoughts. I have found this journal and notes is a good way for me to see how I’ve grown and how well my life is tracking with what God’s Word says. It’s also been helpful in that is shows me how many of my prayers have been answered in ways I would never have expected or thought of.

  6. David Medeiros : January 15, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I am amazed and puzzled with believers who haven’t time to read their bibles and spend time in the Lord’s presence. How they think they can be prepared for life’s challenges, especially those unexpected ones that the enemy knows can create a carnal, fleshly reaction. I do believe there is a difference between reacting and responding to any situation. Those who taken time to be in God’s Word will be energized and empowered by the Holy Spirit to respond in a Christ manner and not react in a fleshly impulse. I like to use this analogy for believers who think they will have enough fuel for the week from Sunday’s message, would one meal for a week give you the energy required to do all that is necessary for each day’s responsibilities? We all know the answer to that. As stated in previous comments, without a daily diet of the Word, we give the enemy opportunity to create a situation that could hurt our testimony and dishonor the Lord. The Bible is essential if we are to walk in the level of faith that pleases the Lord, Hebrews 11:6.

  7. This brings me back to a message that was preached some time ago… Mary chose the most important thing; really the ONLY thing… sitting at His feet and hearing from Him.

    Thank you Lord, that we have godly men leading our church who are doing just that! Thank you that they, and our brothers and sisters, impart your wisdom, challenge us, and make us accountable (even if just to ourselves and YOU) every time we meet.

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