Using Pastor Skip Heitzig’s teaching on How To Grow Up, principles are shared for enriching Bible study and the importance of expository teaching
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO—We live in a world desperately seeking ways to improve oneself, particularly at the start of a new year. People seek better health, more money, finer fashion, and closer friendships. However, one area often overlooked is spiritual growth. To grow spiritually, one must go about it God’s way. And where do we find God’s way? The answer: In Scripture. So, in order to grow up, we can’t give up on our study of the Bible.
To help understand how to grow up and not give up, Pastor Skip recently taught a message at Calvary Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Below are segments taken from his teaching. At the end of this article, there are questions for you to ponder as you enter this new year, learning how to grow up and not give up in your study of the Bible.
To get the most from the review, I recommend that you read Acts 2: 40-46. Pastor Skip focuses in on verse 42: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
To Grow, You Must Learn
- Here’s the truth: all people need to grow up, spiritually speaking.
- As the Apostle Paul reminds us:
- “When I was child I spoke as child, understood as a child…but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (I Corn. 13: 11)
- “[we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;” (Eph. 4:15)
- Life principle: to grow spiritually, we must be spiritually fed. Or put another way, the word of God does the work of God by the Spirit of God in the people of God.
- And to grow we need doctrine. In chapter 2 of Acts, Luke lists doctrine as the start of our spiritual growth. Doctrine means teaching or instruction.
- The loss of doctrine in the church leads to me-ology; church becomes about us, not God. The loss of emphasis on doctrine has become, as Michael Vlach states, “A crisis of Biblical knowledge,” cutting against the clear teaching of scripture (see Hosea 4: 6, 2 Peter 3:18, and Proverbs 19:2).
- Concerning Acts 2, John Stott states: “One might say that the Holy Spirit opened a school in Jerusalem that day. The schoolteachers were the Apostles whom Jesus had appointed and trained and there were 3000 pupils in Kindergarten.”
- Stott’s point: the early church was a learning church, as Jesus instructed: “Learn of Me” (Matthew 11:29).
- Notice doctrine is first on the list; not singing, prayer, or missions. Learning is primary.
- Why teaching? If Christians are to follow God, we me know Him. And to know Him is to learn about Him.
To Learn, You Must Hear
- Jesus regularly used the phrase “ears to hear.” With this phrase, Jesus is saying, “listen up,” and “pay attention.” Likewise, Luke is calling us to listen up in Acts 2. Why? Because listening is key to learning.
- Please note: what we’re listening to is the apostle’s doctrine, not any old teaching. The apostles were the men Jesus taught directly.
- Specifically, the apostle’s doctrine was the apostolic teaching and commentary on how the Old Testament applied to them (see Acts 2: 14-17 and Acts 2: 23-25).
- Put another way, the apostle’s doctrine was expository in nature, letting the text of scripture speak for itself.
- Expository teaching is rooted in the power of the text, not the personality of the preacher.
- True, God uses preachers, sent preachers, and continues to do so (see I Col. 1 and Romans 10:14), but the essence of power is found in God’s word, not a preacher’s personal wisdom.
- The apostle Paul reminds us: “Faith comes by hearing & hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
To Hear, You Must Commit
- Notice the phrase in Acts 2, “continued steadfastly.” It is one Greek word in the original rendering, meaning “to stick to something,” “to be diligently attentive.”
- Other translations render it” “they devoted themselves,” and “they gave constant attention to.” The point? The early Christians gave themselves constantly to the study of the Bible.
- It’s not as though the apostles ate up the pure Word and then moved to junk food. They continually chewed on God’s food, allowing scripture to nourish and grow them.
- Remember, it’s Jesus who stated, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.”
- The point: to continue in truth, we must continue to hear, learn, and grow in our understanding of God’s word.
- Why is the important? Here’s six reasons:
- One, you’ll know God better. Scripture reveals God’s mind, what He’s like, His plans and purposes.
- Two, you’ll know yourself better. The Bible gives both a correct theology (doctrine) and a correct anthropology (understanding of humanity), the good and the bad about people.
- Three, you’ll live life better. The Bible will show the meaning of life, our purpose and outline the principles for guidance. Jesus said, God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17).
- Four, you’ll pray better. When you know what God wants, you’ll know how to pray: pray in accordance with God’s will.
- Five, you’ll help others better. Understanding the Bible is not for ourselves alone, but to love and counsel others. By knowing what the Bible says on different subjects, we are able to instruct one another. See Romans 15.
- Six, you’ll discern better. In a world with many voices, worldviews, and opinions, the Bible will keep you from error, helping you stay in the right lane, doctrinally speaking.
- Now four tips to help develop better Bible study habits:
- One, get a Bible. Find a translation that helps illuminate the text. Read it.
- Two, make time. It may be morning, afternoon, or evening. It’s not when, but that you read the Bible.
- Three, get help. Find a reading schedule, commentaries, or other tools such as the Bible From 30,000 Feet to help you unpack and understand the text.
- Four, tell someone what you learned. Best way to learn is to teach.
Now that Pastor Skip has provided a base of how to grow and not give up, ask yourselves the following questions, listed as Connect Up (connect to God), Connect In (connect in to your church or local Bible study) and Connect Out (how to use these principles to reach out to others).
As God is truth, so, too, is His word. Why do you think there is such a close correlation between the Bible and God himself? When paired down to its essence, the Bible teaches there are four major aspects to God’s truth. Look up the verses to review:
- God the Father: Deut. 32:4
- God the Son: John 14:6
- God the Spirit: John 16: 12-14
- Scripture: Psalm 119:160
How does truth interact between the four aspects? And are there other aspects to God’s truth (such as His created world, best understood through science)?
As the Apostle John notes in III John, Christians are to walk (Gk: peripateo) in truth. To walk in truth is to be occupied with it, living with it, and obeying it. As an individual and church, how are we to walk in God’s truth, His word? Use Pastor Skip’s points taught above as the base for your answers. What more can we do to deepen and enrich our experience of study in God’s word? Share your plans to help enliven your textual experience this new year.
Pastor Skip has likened a teaching church to a textual community, a place dedicated to the teaching of a text. Knowing one of the great needs in the world is for people to belong to something, how can you make a textual community (a teaching church) an inviting place for all people to learn and experience God? Put another way, how can a textual community act as an outreach tool to your city?
In the Fall of 2019, Calvary Church will begin Calvary College, applying the idea of textual community to the study of God’s word. To learn more, contact Katherine Gardner, Calvary College’s Administrator, at 505.338.3680.