Summary: This is the 4th in a series of 8 on discipleship.
Last week we talked about sin. We talked about its effects on our life, how it can hinder our walks as disciples, and why we should flee from it and strive for righteousness. Now in order for us to lead pure lives, we must know what sin is and when we are sinning. The only way we can do this is to be in the word of God, which will enable us to recognize our sins. So the next characteristic of a disciple I want us to look at is the study and application of scripture.
This is probably something you have heard sermons on before. At the very least I know most of you have heard either Brad or myself talk about the importance of daily bible study in your lives. I don’t think either of us have preached solely on study in the past couple of years, so I want to take a closer look tonight at what study encompasses. There are a lot of reasons why we need to study our bible and know what is in it and I want to take a look at a few of those.
The first reason is because it will enable us to grow spiritually. Our spiritual growth is directly dependant on our consistent intake of the word of God as our spiritual food. The author of Hebrews divides biblical intake into milk and meat. In Hebrews 5:12-14 it says, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
A new convert to Christianity needs the milk of the word so that they can begin to grow through that intake of spiritual nourishment. The disciple, however, ought to be taking in solid food, or meat as it is put in Hebrews for their growth beyond the newborn stage. Milk will help us grow to a certain point, but after that we need meat and protein for continued growth. So whether you are new to the faith or you have been a Christian for most of your life, you need to have a regular intake of the word of God to grow spiritually. The more mature you become in your faith though, the more meat, or in depth study you are going to need to grow. If you choose not to study the word of God you will most certainly become stagnant in your walk with Christ. Once you become stagnant, you fail to produce fruit for the kingdom of God.
We will talk more in a minute about the different ways we can have in depth study, but now I want to look at another reason we need to study the word of God and that is so that we can be guided and directed in our life. If you are looking for guidance in your life, you may go to your friend, or your parents, or your pastor. These people are often a great source for guidance, but the best guidance you can get if you are truly seeking God’s will for your life is from God himself. You can certainly do this through prayer which we will talk more about next week, but you must also do this through study. God has left us with the bible as our instruction manual and when we read it and try to apply it to our lives, God will use it to give us direction.
Finally, if we want to be effective as disciples in evangelism, we must be in the word of God on a daily basis. We cannot be an effective witness for Christ if we do not know what the Bible tells us. We have to have something to say to unbelievers. This requires having a thorough knowledge of the gospels to share the message of Jesus Christ with others. I hope that by the end of our study this summer everyone in here will feel prepared to go and make disciples of others. Having a good knowledge of the bible is an absolute must if we are going to lead others to Christ. That doesn’t mean we have to be biblical scholars, because I don’t know near as much about the bible as I should, but we do need to have a good understanding of the scriptures. If someone asks you, “why do I have to believe in Jesus to go to Heaven?” what are you going to say? John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten son so that whoever believes in him shall not die but has eternal life.” Or you may say, “Jesus said I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s John 14:6. What if someone asks you “why do I have to be good all the time if Jesus already died for my sins?” “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Romans 1:18. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, selfish ambitions, drunkenness, and envy. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21.