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How to Grow Up and Not Give Up
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig

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Acts 2 (NKJV™)
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life

The term growth rate is usually reserved for the financial world to describe market change over a period of time. It tells you how fast a country’s economy is growing. But let’s think of it as a spiritual and personal term—and use it to describe our own spiritual growth. How’s that going? Let’s look at one aspect of spiritual growth and consider some tips from one verse to accentuate and accelerate it.

We're all on the lookout for helpful tips for everyday tasks. Whether it's a kitchen hack for tear-free onions or a cleaning hack for a mess-free microwave, people are eager to save time and effort. Your walk with Christ can be more consistent, simple, and satisfying with Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life. Let's do this.

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Outline

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  1. To Grow, You Must Learn

  2. To Learn, You Must Hear

  3. To Hear, You Must Commit

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: January 13, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "How to Grow Up and Not Give Up"
Text: Acts 2:42

Path

The term growth rate is usually reserved for the financial world to describe market change over a period of time. It tells you how fast a country's economy is growing. But let's think of it as a spiritual and personal term—and use it to describe our own spiritual growth. How's that going? In this teaching, Pastor Skip looks at one aspect of spiritual growth, and considers some tips from one verse to accentuate and accelerate it:
  1. To Grow, You Must Learn
  2. To Learn, You Must Hear
  3. To Hear, You Must Commit
Points

To Grow, You Must Learn
  • All people need to grow up, spiritually speaking.
  • As the apostle Paul said:
    • "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11).
    • "[We] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).
  • To grow spiritually, we must be spiritually fed.
  • The Word of God does the work of God, by the Spirit of God, in the hearts of the people of God.
  • To grow we need doctrine; the word "doctrine" means "teaching or instruction." Notice that doctrine is first on the list, not singing, prayer, or mission. Learning is primary.
  • The loss of doctrine in the church leads to me-ology and be-ology. Or as Michael Vlach stated, "There is a crisis of biblical knowledge in the church." This cuts against the clear teaching of Scripture (see Proverbs 19:2; Hosea 4:6; and 2 Peter 3:18).
  • Concerning Acts 2, John Stott stated: "One might say that the Holy Spirit opened a school in Jerusalem that day. The school teachers were the Apostles whom Jesus had appointed and trained and there were 3,000 pupils in kindergarten."
  • Stott's point: the early church wasa learning church, as Jesus had instructed: "Learn from Me" (Matthew 11:29).
  • If Christians are to follow God, we need to know Him; the only way to know Him is to read His Word.
To Learn, You Must Hear
  • Jesus regularly used the phrase "ears to hear." It was as if Jesus was saying, "Listen up; pay attention." Likewise, Luke is calling us to listen up in Acts 2; listening is key to learning.
  • What we're called to listen to is the apostle's doctrine.
  • Specifically, the apostle's doctrine was the apostolic teaching and commentary on how the Old Testament applied to them (see Acts 2:14-17, 23-25).
  • The apostle's doctrine was expository in nature, letting Scripture speak for itself.
  • Expository teaching is rooted in the power of the text, not the personality of the preacher.
  • God uses preachers; He sent preachers and continues to do so (see 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; Romans 10:14), but the essence of power is found in God's Word, not a preacher's approach.
  • The apostle Paul reminded us: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
To Hear, You Must Commit
  • Notice this phrase in the text: "continued steadfastly". The Greek word in the original rendering means "to stick to something," "to be diligently attentive."
  • Other translations render this phrase "they devoted themselves," "they gave constant attention to", meaning they constantly studied the Bible.
  • Remember, it's Jesus who stated, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).
  • To continue in truth, we must continue to hear, learn, and grow in our understanding of God's Word.
  • Why is that important? Here are six reasons:
    • You'll know God better. Scripture reveals God's mind, what He's like, His plans and purposes.
    • You'll know yourself better. The Bible gives both a correct theology (doctrine) and a correct anthropology (understanding of humanity).
    • You'll live life better. The Bible reveals the meaning of life. It gives us our purpose and principles for guidance. Jesus said that God's word is truth (see John 17:17).
    • You'll pray better. When you know what God wants, you'll know how to pray in accordance with God's will.
    • You'll help others better. Understanding the Bible is not only for ourselves; it instructs us to love and counsel others (see Romans 15:1-5).
    • 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.
  • Here are four tips to help develop better Bible study habits:
    • Get a Bible. Find a translation that helps illuminate the text.
    • Make time. It's not when, but that you read it.
    • 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.
    • Tell someone what you learned. The best way to learn is to teach.
Practice

Connect Up: 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? The Bible teaches four major aspects to God's truth. Look up these verses and discuss: God the Father (Deuteronomy 32:4), God the Son (John 14:6), God the Spirit (John 16:12-14), and Scripture (Psalm 119:160). How does truth interact among the four aspects? Are there other aspects to God's truth (such as His creation, best understood through science)?

Connect In: As the apostle John notes in 3 John, Christians are to walk in truth. To walk in truth is to be occupied with it, living with it, and obeying it. As an individual and a church, how are we to walk in God's truth? Use this teaching as the basis 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.

Connect Out: Pastor Skip has likened a teaching church to a textual community, a place dedicated to the teaching of a text. Knowing that one of the great needs in the world is for people to belong, how can you make a textual community (a teaching church) an inviting place for all people to learn and experience God? How can a textual community act as an outreach tool for our city?

Detailed Notes

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"How to Grow Up and Not Give Up"
Acts 2:42
  1. Introduction
    1. The most basic truth: to grow spiritually, you have to be spiritually fed
    2. The Word of God does the work of God by the Spirit of God as He works in the hearts of the people of God
    3. The Bible that once played a central role in our culture has been relegated to the coffee table or the bookshelf
      1. Nine out of ten American homes has a Bible, but a very small percentage actually spend time reading it, and even fewer still apply it
      2. One third of Americans don't know who gave the Sermon on the Mount; a large number thought it was Billy Graham
      3. The most widely known Bible verse is "God helps those who help themselves"—which isn't even a Bible verse; it's a Benjamin Franklin quote
    4. At the Pentecost, 3,000 new believers found themselves in a hostile environment: a Jewish population who did not believe
  2. To Grow, You Must Learn
    1. Doctrine (teaching or instruction): didaché, truth imparted so that we can grow
      1. Doctrine has been minimalized by believers
        1. "I'm not into doctrine—I'm into Jesus"
        2. But we wouldn't know anything about Jesus if it weren't for doctrine
      2. We are given a manual of truth—the Bible—for our lives, but it has been disregarded by many in the church at large
      3. There is an unmistakable absence of truth in the pulpit
        1. Theology has been discarded in favor of me-ology or be-ology
        2. "There is a crisis of biblical knowledge in the American church" —Dr. Michael Vlach
        3. Hosea 4:6
        4. 2 Peter 3:18
        5. Proverbs 19:2
      4. Doctrine is a word you should embrace and never be ashamed of
        1. "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 three thousand pupils in the kindergarten!" —John Stott
        2. Deuteronomy 5:1
        3. Psalm 119:34
    2. This verse is a list of spiritual priorities; the highest priority is doctrine
    3. Are you devoted to doctrine?
    4. As you get to know your Bible, you will get to know your God
      1. J.I. Packer's book Knowing God is systematic theology
      2. 2 Peter 2:2
  3. To Learn, You Must Hear
    1. Listening is the key to learning; Matthew 11:15
    2. The apostles' doctrine—"by the prophet Joel" (see Acts 2:14-21)
      1. Apostolic teaching was expository; it was rooted in the power of the text rather than the personality of the teacher
      2. The apostles taught from the Scriptures and what it meant to their audience
        1. Ephesians 4:12
        2. 1 Corinthians 1:18
        3. Romans 10:14
        4. Romans 10:17
        5. "Rarely do we hear these days that a church is distinguished primarily by its preaching" —Al Mohler
  4. To Hear, You Must Commit
    1. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine"
    2. Matthew 4:4
    3. Continue in truth, continue in the Word, continue hearing and growing so that you can:
      1. Know God better; correct theology through immersion in the Word
      2. Know yourself better; correct anthropology, which is found in the Bible
      3. Live life better
        1. All the big questions are answered in the Bible: Who am I?, What is the purpose of life?, etc.
        2. Psalm 119:105
      4. Pray better
        1. Romans 8:26
        2. As you read the Bible, you start finding out what God wants, and when you find out what God wants, you start praying according to what God wants
        3. There are ample examples in Scripture of how others have prayed in the past; this can lead to scriptural praying
      5. Help others better
        1. You will be better to other people
        2. The Bible wasn't written just so that you could help yourself
      6. Discern better; the Bible will keep you from error
  5. Conclusion: tips to help your spiritual growth
    1. Get a Bible—whichever translation best illuminates Scripture for you—and read it consistently
    2. Make time in your schedule to study Scripture
    3. Get help; there are multitudes of study helps available, such as devotionals, study plans, etc.
    4. Tell someone; sharing what you've learned reinforces it

Figures referenced: Benjamin Franklin, Billy Graham, Al Mohler, J.I. Packer, John Stott, Michael Vlach

Cross references: Deuteronomy 5:1; Psalm 119:34, 105; Proverbs 19:2; Hosea 4:6; Matthew 4:4; 11:15; John 17:17; Acts 2:14-21, 23-25; Romans 8:26; 10:14, 17; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Ephesians 4:12; 2 Peter 2:2; 3:18

Greek words: didaché

Transcript

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How to Grow Up and Not Give Up - Acts 2:42 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Spirit Hacks, Tips and Tools for Mastering your Spiritual Life.

Would you turn in your Bibles this morning to the book of Acts Chapter 2-- the book of Acts, Chapter 2 this morning in the New Testament as we look at a few verses together.

When we were children life was a whole lot easier than when we're adults. It was just less complex. Decisions were easier. It was as simple as eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Mistakes were easier. When you're a kid, you just shout, do over. And it's like get a whole new slate.

You were so impressed when your dad removed his thumb. Remember that, you just thought that was magical when he would do that. It didn't take much to impress a child. Entertainment was easy. And the worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex when you were a kid was cooties. Remember cooties? You have cooties. I loved being a kid. But I had three older brothers. And they loved to tell me grow up, which I did sort of-- physically I did. And in many ways I did not. But growing up is important. It's natural. But it's also supernatural. That is, we should grow up spiritually.

Paul the Apostle said, "When I was a child, I understood as a child. I spoke as a child. I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things." So there's a place for youth. But there's a place for growing up, growing strong.

Then the apostle Paul told the Ephesian church, growing up in all things in Him who is the head even Christ. We are doing a little short series that has been called Spirit Hacks, Tips to Making Spiritual Growth Easier. And the most fundamental aspect of spiritual growth is what you eat spiritually speaking. It's been said you are what you eat. To grow spiritually, you have to be spiritually fed.

Now, we have always believed a core value here at this church has always been that the Word of God does the work of God. Or if I can unfold that a little more, we believe the Word of God does the work of God as the Spirit of God works on the hearts of the people of God. We believe that to be true.

However, the Bible, which was once a focal point in our culture is far from that today. It has been relegated to the coffee table or the bookshelf. Nine out of every ten households in America own a Bible. Very few actually read it. Somebody once said if everyone decided to read their Bibles at the same time, we would experience the worst dust storm in history. Dust that thing off.

It's a book that people write family names in, births in, deaths in. We record stuff in it. We press flowers in it. But to actually read it and apply it is a different thing. According to the Gallup organization-- Gallup poll-- one third of Americans don't know who gave the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, a large number said it was preached by Billy Graham.

Now, Billy just died and went to Heaven. He was old. But he was not that old. Fewer than half, fewer than half could name the first book in the Bible. And so the Gallup organization said Americans revere the Bible. But we have become a nation of biblical illiterates.

According to one source, the most widely known Bible verse is-- ready for it-- God helps those who help themselves-- not even in the Bible. Ben Franklin said that, not the scripture. Sadly, 82% of Americans believe it's scripture. And according to the same source, 81%-- so 82% of Americans think is in the Bible-- 81% percent of those who say they are born again Christians think it's in the Bible. Uh-oh. Houston we have a problem.

What I'd like to do with you today is look at one half of one verse. That's pretty simple. We're going to drill down and dig deep and unpack one half of one verse-- that is part of verse 42 in just a moment. And I'd like to share with you three aspects of your relationship to the Bible-- pretty straightforward. They're written in your worship folder. To grow, you must learn. To learn, you must hear. To hear, you must commit.

Those are the three principles we want to look at-- three statements, three decisions all of us must make about our relationship to this book we call the Bible. Now, I want to give you the context before we actually read it. The context is it's the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has come upon the church. It has filled them in a very unique way. Peter is out in the temple courtyard. He is preaching the Gospel. And get this, 3,000 people respond to his sermon. Not three people, not 300 people-- that'd be awesome-- 3,000 people in Jerusalem respond and give their lives to Christ. So they are new converts to the Christian faith.

But they find that they're Jewish believers in a very hostile environment. Their Messiah leader, Jesus, has been crucified six weeks prior. They believe Him to be raised, because He was raised. But not everybody in the community at large believes that. So they are under tremendous pressure, soon to be persecution.

So now what? Now what do they do? What priorities will they keep to ensure their survival so that they survive and thrive in that kind of culture? Well, we have the answer to that. Let's begin in chapter 2, beginning with verse 40 where we read, "And with many other words, he testified and exhorted them saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation."

That's Peter preaching. "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized. And that day about 3,000 souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

"Now all who believed were together and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." That's the greater context.

Now, let's narrow it down. Let's look at our text. And that is verse 42, just the first part. "and they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine." Stop right there. Out of that phrase alone, let me give you three statements. And we'll apply it. Number one, to grow, you must learn. I want you to look at one word in that verse-- one word alone. That's the word "doctrine." Do you see it?

Doctrine-- if you have a more modern translation than the one I'm reading out of, it might render it teaching or instruction. That's all doctrine is. Didaché is the Greek word. It simply means teaching or instruction-- or perhaps even simpler, truth taught, truth conveyed, truth imparted. That's the word "doctrine." That's what it means-- truth or instruction that is given to others.

I have to say, I feel sorry for the word "doctrine." There's a few words that I feel sorry for by the way. I feel sorry, for instance, for the word "awesome." I feel sorry for it because it is so overused it doesn't even mean what it means.

Another word I feel sorry for is the word interesting. People go, oh, that's interesting. Well, it might really be mundane. But it's suddenly become interesting. And there are certain words that are so overused that I just feel bad for them. Well, I really feel sorry for the word "doctrine."

And the reason I feel sorry for the word "doctrine" is because it has become minimalized or marginalized by believers-- by Christian believers who might say something like this, oh, I'm not into doctrine. I'm just into Jesus. That sounds so utterly spiritual, like you are so much more spiritual than I am. The problems is it's a lame thing to say. You wouldn't know anything about Jesus unless there were doctrines about Him that gave you information for you to love Him.

But it has become marginalized as if it's not important. I sometimes think that we treat our lives like we treat our gadgets. You know we get gadgets. And with every gadget comes a manual of some kind, whether it's electronic or in hard copy. But nobody reads the manual. We just start trying to figure out the gadget we're good to go until it doesn't work. When it doesn't work, where's that manual? I got to find out why it doesn't work. If you to read it first you'd have been OK.

God has given us a manual for our lives called the Bible. And we're going to explore that a little bit today. It's the manual of truth that I have to say has been largely disregarded by the church. The church of Jesus Christ-- and I'm painting with a broad brush here-- has generally, for the most part, been absent of doctrine, absent of theology. It's like we're ashamed of theology. It's not about theology anymore. It's about me-ology. You're to make me feel better about myself. Or it's about be-ology. Be your best you. Be your best self. Your best life now. There's no real theology.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' doctrine-- doctrine. Dr. Michael Vlach said-- and I agree with him-- "There is a crisis of biblical knowledge in the church." The prophet Hosea, God said to that prophet, "My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge." And the apostle Peter in the New Testament said, "Grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Solomon wrote to his son and said, "Also it is not good--" Proverbs 19:2-- "it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge." So get this. The early church, they have to survive. So they believe this. They believe that to grow, you must learn. Doctrine was important. John Stott who wrote a commentary on the book of Acts, among other books, said, "One might say that the Holy Spirit opened a school in Jerusalem that day. The school teachers were the apostles whom Jesus appointed and trained. And there were 3,000 pupils in kindergarten."

So this was a learning church. Jesus said, "Learn of me. Get knowledge of me imparted to yourself." God in Deuteronomy 5, regarding His laws and commandments said, "learn them." Learn them. Psalm 119, the Psalmist writes, "Give me understanding that I might learn your commandments." So to grow, you must learn.

Now, get this. This is what I want you to notice. Verse 42 begins a list, a list of priorities-- a to do list. We need to do these things in order for us to survive spiritually and to grow up and not give up. So notice what is first on the list. Of the entire list that is given, the first thing on the list is doctrine.

Now, I'm pointing that out because that is not necessarily what we would put as first on the list. Not everybody would put that on their list as number one. Others would put singing on their list as number one. Others might put prayer as number one, or serving one another as number one, or missions as number one.

But the early church, number one on their list was the apostles' doctrine. They were devoted to doctrine. How many people do you know who are devoted to doctrine? Can you name ten off the top of your head-- devoted to doctrine? Even five? Ask the average Christian-- try it this week-- hey, are you devoted to doctrine? Be interested to find out what feedback you get from that. Devoted to doctrine.

Most books in Christian bookstores are not doctrinal books. You want to know why? Very, very simple, basic reason-- they don't sell. They don't sell. Books about you sell. Self-help books sell. Doctrinal books don't sell. And yet, Paul said to Timothy that in the last days, people will not endure sound doctrine. But they'll turn aside to those who will give them what they want to hear.

From time to time, I am asked-- and not a lot, but I'm asked from time to time-- why do you always preach expository sermons? Why do you feel the necessity, Skip, to be so tied to-- tethered to the text? It's all about what the Bible says. You look at this word and that word in that context. And moreover, I've been on Wednesday nights, why do you spend a whole hour in the Bible?

I've been to some other churches. It's a lot more exciting. More of a pep rally, more of an exhortation. Let me tell you why. I want to answer that question. Because when you come, essentially what I am doing is asking you to place your life into the hands of God. That's basically what we do at church. I'm encouraging you, trust Him. Place your life into His hands.

You need to know the one in whom you are trusting. To know your Bible is to know your God. You will not know him without it. It is the portal for knowing Him. I read a book when I was a new believer. And I saw it on the bookshelf, and titles grab me sometimes. And I loved the title. It drew me in. It was called Knowing God, by J.I. Packer. It has since become a classic.

And I'd recommend the book-- Knowing God by J.I. Packer. But as I began to read it, I was very disappointed. Because what it was essentially is a theology book-- all the doctrines of the Bible. But it was written in a very unique style. And the more I read it, the more I got it. It's like, yeah. I have to know the doctrines of God to know the God that I am asked to trust.

So Peter says, "Like newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the Word that you may grow thereby." To grow, you must learn. If you're not taking in spiritual food, you might be a Christian. You're going to Heaven. But you're weak and malnourished. So to grow, you must learn. Number two, to learn, you must hear. To learn, you must hear. How often did Jesus say-- and you're going to finish the verse-- Jesus said, "Whoever has ears to hear let him hear." Let him hear. He said that a lot. That's a Bible way of saying, listen up or pay attention.

That's what my teacher used to say to me a lot in class. Heitzig, listen up. Pay attention. Listen to what I'm about to say. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Now, here's what I want you to look at in verse 42. Go back to that, and look at the word that modifies the word "doctrine." Placed in adjectival form, the word apostles. They devoted themselves steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine-- not any kind of doctrine, a very specific kind. Because there were other doctrines, other teachings, other forms of instruction. There were the doctrines of the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, the Essenes, the number of different political groups, all had their teaching, their doctrine.

No, it was a very narrow focus on the apostles' doctrine. What does that mean? Well, you know who the apostles were. They were the closest friends of Jesus-- the 12 who followed Him along. And for 3 and 1/2 years they actually heard Jesus and saw Him close up. And they got to convey to the early church everything they knew. But I think the best definition of the apostles' doctrine is this. It is the apostolic explanation and comments on how Old Testament scriptures related to New Testament believers.

They took the scriptures-- at that time it was only the Old Testament-- and they brought them to bare on New Testament believers. I want you to see this for yourself. So look in chapter 2. Look at verse 14. Peter standing up with the 11, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and heed my words for these are not drunk as you suppose--" since it's only 9 o'clock in the morning-- "but this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel." And in verse 17 down to verse 21 He quotes the Old Testament biblical book of Joel. Verse 22 makes application.

Now look at verse 23. "Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, crucified and put to death. Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him--" and notice what he does, quotes Psalm 16 to show that Jesus' death was part of God's plan. That that was a scripture that is now fulfilled.

So apostolic preaching-- the doctrine of the apostles-- was expository preaching. In other words, it let the text speak for itself. Peter didn't stand up and go, you know, I was just sort of thinking. And I kind of feel like. He says this is what the Bible says about that. So the apostles' doctrine, it was rooted in the power of the text not in the personality of the preacher.

Peter wouldn't spout little sayings that he thought were cool and getting people to rally around it and say amen to whatever. It was the power of the text itself. Now, God uses preachers. He sent Old Testament prophets. He raised up New Testament apostles. He sends preachers even to this day to speak. Ephesians chapter 4, "God gave to the church some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors, teachers for the edifying of the church, building up of the body of Christ."

1 Corinthians 1, "It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." And the classic verse, Romans 10, verse 14, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" So the general rule is people grow by learning and learn by hearing. Right? That's a biblical principle. Romans 10:17, "Faith comes by--" tell me-- "hearing. And hearing by the word of God." But it's the voice of the preacher in the ears of the people speaking the text of the scripture, the text of scripture.

Al Mohler, whose writings I have come to really love over time, wrote this. "Rarely do we hear these days that a church is distinguished primarily by its preaching. When we hear people speak about their own congregations, generally they speak about something other than preaching. They might speak of a church's ministry. They might speak of specialized programs for senior adults or young people. They might speak of a church's music. Sometimes they might speak of things far more superficial. But rarely do you hear a church described first and foremost by the character, power, and content of its preaching. This is because," says Mohler, "few preachers today are true servants of the Word."

Peter and the apostles were servants of the Word. They were saying, what is this? He goes, this is that, which was spoken of by the prophet Joel. And gave a textual, scriptural explanation. So to grow, you must learn. To learn, you must hear. It is the apostles' doctrine.

Third, to hear, you must commit. Now, look at verse 42. Remember, we're only doing one half of one verse. "And they continued steadfastly." It doesn't say, and they did this and they did that. No. What they did, they did it and they continued steadfastly. Two words here. One word in the Greek, I'm not going to tell you the Greek word. You wouldn't care. You wouldn't remember it. Who cares? It's good enough in English. They continued steadfastly.

The word means to stick to something or to get stuck on something. Or it means to be diligently attentive to something. Other translations say they devoted themselves, or they gave constant attention to, or they were regularly present at, or they were loyal to. The Amplified Bible, listen to it, "And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles." That's powerful. This isn't something they did at first and then stopped doing and moved on as times changed and they got busy.

They didn't say, yeah. I used to be into the apostles' doctrine. I used to go to the apostle's church. But that's just not exciting. I found something more exciting. That's as dumb as saying I used to eat. Mom's cooking was cool. But I've moved on to junk food. They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine. Jesus said, quoting Deuteronomy, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that precedes out of the mouth of God." We live by it. Every word-- every word that precedes out of the mouth of God.

So continue in the truth, continue in the Word-- hearing, learning, growing. Why? Why make such a big deal out of it? Why were they so attentive to this? Well, let me give you some benefits of regularly, constantly, continually reading, searching, growing, learning, hearing scripture. Number one, you'll know God better. You'll know God better. You read the Bible, and God is saying this is who I am. This is what I'm like. This is how I'm going to handle this or that.

You discover the mind of God in scripture. You won't take long. You'll figure out pretty quickly what God likes and what He doesn't like as you read your Bible. You go, oh, I get it. I get a picture of who God is. I see what His plan and purpose is. So you'll know God better. There's a second benefit. Not only will you know God better, you will know yourself better.

You see, the Bible doesn't just give you a correct theology, it gives you a correct anthropology. It shows the nature of man page after page in our best times and our worst. Fully disclosed, you will see our weaknesses, temptations, tendencies, flaws, strengths, creativities-- all seen in scripture. You'll know God better. You will know yourself better.

Third benefit-- you'll live life better. You'll live a better life. You start reading the Bible, it will show you the meaning of life. All the big questions everybody has-- why am I here? What's the meaning of life? What's the purpose of life-- all answered on the pages of scripture. That's why the Psalmist said, Psalm 119, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." I've always loved the imagery. God's word is a flashlight. The Bible is my flashlight. In a dark world, I can navigate and make good decisions. I can live my life better by the flashlight of God's Word.

This is why Jesus prayed to His father in John 17, "Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth." You'll live life better. Now, I'll confess to you when I was first saved, I bought me a Bible. I bought me a King James Bible, Old King James. And because of that, I just have to confess also I love the Old King James version. I read it a lot. I don't mind the thee's and thou's. Used to. But when I first started reading it, I didn't get it.

I said, OK. I'm going to read through it. And go, I don't get it. I don't get that name. I can't pronounce that. That's weird. What he just said, I couldn't figure out what that means. And so I was highly confused. But I kept reading and I kept at it. And I noticed that it got clearer as I did it. And I got stronger as I kept doing it. Pretty soon I could even remember things I read. I could call to mind certain verses. And so I come up to a situation or an issue, and I go, hey, I know a verse about that.

So now I could apply a verse that I read to this situation. And things were different. Things started to change because of that. I found out I'm living my life better. So you'll know God better. You'll know yourself better. You'll live life better.

Fourth, you'll pray better. You'll pray better. One of the hardest disciplines in the Christian life is the discipline of prayer. Am I right, brothers and sisters? All of us, self included, that's one area that's like, yeah. I need to strengthen that area. And one of the problems is like it says in the Bible, we don't always know what we ought to pray for.

The Holy Spirit helps in that. But we don't know what we should pray for like we ought. So when I start reading this book, God's book, the Bible, I start finding out what God wants. And so I start praying for what God wants. Now I suddenly know how to pray better. Because now I'm praying according to His will more and more, which means I'm going to get yes answers more and more, rather than no. That's an answer by the way. God didn't answer my prayer. No-- that's an answer.

Or, I didn't hear anything. OK. Wait is an answer too. But when you start finding out what He wants and you pray for what He wants, you start seeing the fulfillment of that. And you start reading how people prayed. You read how Jesus prayed. You can even take their prayers and pray them back. Jesus even said, hey, pray like this-- our Father who art in Heaven. He gives instruction. You'll pray better. So you'll know God better. You'll know yourself better. You'll live life better. You'll pray better.

Fifth-- you'll help others better. If you know your Bible, you'll be a much better help to other people. You see, the Bible won't just help you live your life. It'll help others live their lives through you by knowing what the Bible says on different subjects, you can counsel others. You become a great benefit to others who have marriage problems, problems at work, problems getting along with their boss, problems dealing with whatever.

If you know those principles, you can teach them. And that is a healthy New Testament church. Paul wrote to the book of Romans, Romans 15, one of the key verses in that chapter. And he said, "I, myself, am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and competent to instruct one another." One another.

And number six-- you will discern better. You will discern better. In other words, the Bible will keep you from error. It'll keep you in the right lane. Why is that important? Here's why. We live in a pluralistic culture. And in the culture we live in, there are lots of voices. There are lots of opinions, lots of world views, lots of ideologies. You come back to the Bible and you go, oh, yeah. Not their way, but this way. This is the right way.

Because all of that stuff is being broadcast and transmitted 24/7. And this keeps you in the right lane. We live in a world that seeks what is worthless and scorns what is priceless. We live in a world that embraces what is foolish and spurns what is righteous. So when we come back to the Word like Psalm 1 says, we're not going to listen to the voice of the ungodly, the council of sinners. But our delight is in the law of the Lord. In His law, he meditates day and night. He'll be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. You know the verse. You know the Psalm.

So a couple quick tips, since this is supposed to be a practical message. Tip number one about Bible study-- ready? Here it is, really profound. Get a Bible. Well, I have one on my phone. No, get a Bible. On your phone, it's cool. I get it. I can understand. I can search for things on my iPad, my Bible. But when I have an actual one like this, I can smell and touch and feel. I open it up to. I can get like a page opened up, sometimes a chapter and a half opened up.

I know if the verse is on the left side or the right side. I know what the context is before and after. I see the bigger picture better. So get a Bible. Which Bible? Whatever one you'll read. I use New King James. I read a lot of different versions. If New Living is better for you, or an NIV is better, or the Message-- whatever one you will read the most, get that one.

Second, make time-- make time. Now, I'm going to give you grace here. Don't be slavish about this. I'm not going to say you need to be up every morning at 4:30. Oh, please. You ought to be sleeping at 4:30. If you're a morning person, get up. If you're an evening person, read your Bible at night.

If you want to split it up a few times-- morning, evening, noon, whatever, just whatever time, just keep doing it. Or mix it up. Or-- or I should say and another option. If you're less into reading but more into hearing, there's the audio Bible. So on your commute-- I have something called the dramatized Bible where the people take different voices and you hear music in the background. It's like you're living in that chapter. And from Genesis through Revelation I can listen to a dramatized version of the scripture being read. It's quite fun.

And when you're walking your dog, cleaning your house, the commute to Santa Fe, if you go that far, or around town in bad driving, you can always listen to something that takes your mind off of that.

Third-- get help. You can download Bible reading plans ad nauseam. Everybody and his uncle has them. Every ministry has them. How to read through the Bible in a year. You can get the One Year Bible as has been mentioned. And I'm not doing this to plug my books. But the first book I wrote was called How to Study Your Bible and Enjoy It-- how to observe a text, how to interpret a text, how to apply a text. And I give you samples and work your way through it. So oh, I get it. I can do that myself. Or the Bible from 30,000 feet-- I'll give you principles of what every book of the Bible has to say. Those are helps. Get help.

And fourth-- tell somebody what you learned. Teachers are always the best students because the teacher has to learn it. And then once you say it to somebody and you give that away, it just reinforces what you've learned. So that's a tip. But I love what Paul said to Timothy when he said, "From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures--" here's the part-- "which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

True story-- do you know who the Gideons are? So the Gideons put those Bibles in hotel rooms. I love the Gideons. I love their commitment to it. I love to support them. I'm behind them. And so one time a man asked a Gideon for a Bible. But here's the reason. He says, the pages of the scriptures are that fine paper. They're perfect for rolling cigarettes. The Gideon said, tell you what. I'll give you one under one condition. Before you roll your cigarette, you have to read the page front and back. Then roll it, smoke it. Guy said, deal.

So when the guy had smoked his way through Matthew, Mark, and Luke, by the time he got to John reading front and back, reading the words of Jesus, he was so convicted, he prayed and received Christ as his Lord and Savior.

[APPLAUSE]

If you'd do that, I'd recommend smoking to you. I want to close with something I was given by a Bible binding company, a book binding company. I had a Bible sent away to be rebound. It came back with this little note.

"This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy. Its precepts are binding. Its histories are true. Its decisions immutable. Read it to be wise. Believe it to be safe. Practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

"It is the traveler's map, the pilgrims staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character. Christ is its subject. Our good, its design, and the glory of God, its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is given to you in life. It will be open in the judgment and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with its holy precepts."

Good, isn't it? Father, your book, the Book-- as one put it on his deathbed, bring me the Book-- is what we have considered this morning. A church, the early church, the first church, the prototype church, that devoted themselves constantly, continually, regularly, loyally to the apostles' doctrine.

Lord, whatever means that is-- whether it's through audio format, computer format, dramatized format, one year Bible format, however, it is-- I pray that we would be as determined as that early church, so that we might know you better, know ourselves better, pray better, live life better, help other people in a better form, and be able to discern what is right and what is wrong. We ask it in Jesus' name, Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/6/2019
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Community Is...
Acts 2:44-46
Nate Heitzig
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Message Summary
Every day brings with it a list of tasks we must accomplish in order to live life and get through the day—tasks that range from mundane to difficult. Sometimes we find tips or shortcuts—often called life hacks—that save us time and effort. Like everyday life, our walk with Christ can be tough to get through, but we have built-in assistance to help us along the way: an authentic community of people who share our faith. This week's Spirit Hacks from the book of Acts help us give and get the most out of fellowship.
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1/20/2019
completed
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Tapping into the Power Source
Acts 2; Acts 4
Skip Heitzig
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The earliest Christian believers huddled together in Jerusalem, listened to the apostles, and talked to God in prayer. There were a lot of things missing from that first church. They lacked charters, committees, strategies, and church buildings (things some would consider vital for church health). But one thing they had was power. Why? Because they learned to tap into the source of power through prayer. Let’s examine their prayer life generally and then specifically.
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1/27/2019
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The Generous Lives of True Believers
Acts 2; 2 Corinthians 9
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The book of Acts tells us about the very first Christian believers. Their daily lives were simple; their spiritual lives were vibrant. Far from being independent isolationists who only met once a week, they lived their lives together. They were generous people who sought to meet one another’s needs and make an impact in the world by giving their time, talent, and treasure to make sure the message about Jesus went far and wide.
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2/3/2019
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The Good News IS Really Good
Acts 2:47
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
If the gospel is such good news (which is what gospel means), why don’t we hear more of it? Especially in a world filled with such bad news, it seems hearing a good proclamation would be a nice change. Well, there are some preliminaries to know about that will help us enjoy telling others the gospel. It’s time for some of us to get over the embarrassment of sharing our faith. It really is one of the most fulfilling activities we can ever engage in.
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There are 4 additional messages in this series.