In Acts 2:42 Luke sees fit to let his audience know that the first thing the early church exercised among themselves was a devotion to the "apostle's teaching." The "apostle's teaching" was the content and implications of what it meant to be a Christian. The apostles, those who had seen the risen Lord Jesus, were compelled by the Spirit to share the good news of the Gospel, what Jesus Christ had accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection. And so the early church was primarily devoted to the Gospel of first importance, since it was the Gospel that defined the distinct content of what it meant to be a Christian and what it meant to be the Church.
Scripture, the written form of the "apostle's teaching," is therefore worthy of our devotion because it is the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20). The early church knew that their identity as Christians was in Christ Jesus, but that was only known through the Gospel.
Need We Be Convinced?
They did not need to be convinced of it's primary and foundational importance in their lives. And I would think many of us today do not need to be convinced because we already are, we already believe that the Scriptures truly are "God-breathed" (2 Tim. 3:16) and worthy of our devotion as a disciple and as the church.
But I would venture to say that there are many of us who would like to read our Scriptures more, but simply don't think they are worth reading. There are many of us who may simply think it's just some archaic compilation of ancient writings that only the really devout should read. Or maybe there are simply some of us who think Scripture is nice to have, but really just not worth my time in my busy Schedule.
Seven Benefits of Reading Scripture
To both crowds I would extend a word of encouragement and exhortation to read the Scriptures. The Spirit truly moves and touches our hearts when we read the living Word of God. I want to convince you that Scripture is worthy of your devotion, so here are seven things that God does in us when we read His Word:
- Scripture Brings Faith: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God (Romans 10:17). It is the Word of God that ignites faith in the heart of a believer and continues to sustain it by God's grace.
- Scripture Sanctifies: Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth (John 17:17) and How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word (Psalm 119:9). The Spirit by the reading of God's Word transforms us more and more into the likeness of Christ and makes us more into the person God designed us to be.
- Scripture Reveals Truth: If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set your free (John 8:31-32) and The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7). The capital T Truth is found in Scripture, because only Scripture is God's living and breathing Word.
- Scripture Shows We Are Loved: But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and [God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy! (Titus 3:5). If you are feeling unloved, look to the Scriptures and see how much you are loved.
- Scripture Gives Hope: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?! (Romans 8:31-32). Hope for the Christian is found in God's promises and His promises are always "yes" and "for us" in Christ. Therefore there is great reason to have hope.
- Scripture Battles Fear: Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). Verses like this in Scripture strengthen us to know that God is with us and that we need not fear.
- Scripture Makes Us Glorify God: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39). We read countless verses like this of God's grace and goodness and all we can do is but glorify Him.
JT Holderman is Assistant Pastor of Bellevue Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Gap, PA.