They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles…(Acts 2:42a)
It’s no coincidence that immediately after Luke reports the conversion of over three thousand people he describes what these new disciples were taught (Acts 2:41-42). This is the sequence we find in the Great Commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Thus, sound doctrinal teaching lies at the heart of what it means to be a church that is growing in healthy ways.
But, let’s be honest, many of us equate teaching with tediously theoretical issues. The word “doctrine” itself may turn us off because we associate it with a disproportionately intellectual faith disconnected from the practical problems of life. Some, for example, might say, “Why can’t we just keep it simple. Love God and love your neighbor. Isn’t that what Jesus was all about? Let’s not make it more complicated than it needs to be.”
While the Lord Jesus provided us with a helpful means of prioritizing our biblical interpretations around loving God and loving neighbors, he was not giving us a free pass on wrestling with the whole counsel of God. Such reductionistic views of the faith are founded upon the ever-shifting sands of human opinion, not the Rock of our salvation. God has been gracious enough to preserve and to deliver a robust body of teaching contained in the 66 books of the Bible. Not only that, he has promised the ultimate Author—the Holy Spirit—will continue to help us understand what we need to know. To be sure, there’s a lot we don’t know and will never know in this life. Yet we can’t allow what we don’t know to keep us from studying and obeying what God has clearly stated in his Word.
When Jesus was starving in the desert, Satan tempted him to cave in to his human craving for food. In response, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3— “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:1-4). As Jesus’ disciples today, we’re called to digest the same spiritual diet. It’s the same diet that has nourished disciples for two thousand years! To disregard it by only sampling meager portions on the weekends will inevitably result in scrawny, underdeveloped disciples.
Mature, muscular discipleship comes from regularly feasting on the abundance of God’s Word. “Solid food is for the mature, for those who through diligent practice have learned to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). Let’s pay more attention to what we’re consuming spiritually. It will make all the difference between feeling famished and feeling “strong in the Lord.”