Posted Monday, December 27, 2010 at 9:47 AM
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching...” (Acts 2:42a)
In Acts 2:41, we read how 3,000 people heard the message of Jesus that Peter preached, received the message, and were baptized. It's at that point that we traditionally begin to call someone a Christian, but we also know that Bible tells us that there is a way in which a Christian should walk, or, in other words, there are activities that a Christian participates in that incrementally change the heart, mind and soul to be more like Jesus. This process is called sanctification and it is expected that all Christians participate in this process. Unlike salvation, which is a work that God (Father, Son, Spirit) does alone, sanctification is God's work in us as we discover life in Him. Acts 2:42 begins the description of these activities that the early church participated in, and they were “devoted” to them.
“Devoted” is a strong word. It implies a continuing, serious and reverent commitment to these activities, and the first item in the list that these early Christians were devoted to is the apostles' teaching. So what were they teaching? Thankfully, we not only have the basis of what they were teaching (Old Testament), but we also have a number of historical accounts and letters they wrote to encourage others in their walks with Jesus (New Testament). The teaching that these early Christians devoted themselves to is readily available to us in the form of the Bible to devote ourselves to, no guess work involved.
So what does it mean for us to “devote” ourselves to the apostles' teaching? First, we can establish a regularly scheduled time where we read the Bible in such a way—seriously, reverently, devotionally-- that there is something to be learned from it. This time of devotional reading should also be mapped out (i.e. reading through a particular book of the Bible) so that when you read a passage of Scripture, it has a context. Having a devotional reading time and knowing how to approach this time is one of the most important disciplines you can have as a Christian.
There are many other ways that we can devote ourselves to Biblical teaching, especially with the technology and resources available to us today: your pastor's sermons, books, podcasts, vodcasts, Bible Studies, etc. A word of warning, you should be rooted in the truths of the Bible (or ask someone who is) before pursuing and devoting yourself to any teaching or teacher. Devotional reading is going to be your safest option.
So as we approach the new year and begin to make resolutions for ourselves (as is our modern day tradition), what possible resolutions can we derive from these early Christians:
- If you have accepted the message of Jesus, you should learn the discipline of devotional reading. If you haven't learned the discipline of devotional reading, or are even the least bit uncertain in what you know, here are a couple of options:
- “Thrive” - A Sunday night study given by Pastor Stephen that begins January 16, 2011. In the study, he'll teach you why devotional reading is important and how to do it. Maybe a group of us can go.
If you've had a devotional reading time in the past but don't do it anymore, resolve to pick up your devotional time. Maybe you need to be reminded of its importance by attending the “Thrive” study.
If you have a devotional reading time but are just going through the motions, commit to approach it more seriously and reverently.
If you have a quality, regular devotional reading time, maybe it's time to look for an additional resource (e.g. Bible study, podcast, book, etc.) to encourage or challenge you in addition to your devotional time.