Growing Under God’s Word
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you have probably noticed that it is easy to go through the motions in your study of God’s word, whether individually or on Sundays in church. The gospel can seem so straightforward that we put ourselves in danger of missing it—but in our weakness, we always need to hear its truth preached to us. We need to hear the same thing today that we did the first day we believed. We cannot disconnect our Christian walk from “the word of truth, the gospel of [our] salvation” (Ephesians 1:13) because God ordained the two to be connected. The Spirit of God works through the word of God to sustain the people of God.
Therefore, the first thing Peter did after receiving the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was to stand up and preach a long sermon; then, as more and more people heard and listened to the word of God, they grew as individuals and as a whole (Acts 2). Alternatively, when the word of God is not heard, the church does not grow. Why not? Because the Spirit works as the word is heard, and the word is heard as the Spirit works. The sermon of Acts 2 is in your Bible not only to show you how those men and women came to faith but also to bolster and encourage you in yours.
Here is what the word produces when the Spirit is at work. When Peter preached on that day, his hearers “were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37). In other words, there was conviction. Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v 38). And they did. So there was also commitment. Finally, the new believers gathered together to hear the apostles’ doctrine, break bread, and pray (v 42). So there was community. Conviction, commitment, and community—and it all started with a Spirit-prompted sermon!
Growing in our faith involves both heart and mind. We have the responsibility to place ourselves under biblical teaching and pursue the study of God’s word individually, asking God’s Spirit to show us Christ on the pages of our Bibles and cause us to love Him more. If you are going through the motions somewhat in your reading of Scripture or in your Christian life more broadly, come back to how you first started. Read the gospel in God’s word. Be convicted by your sin, and commit to trusting and serving your Savior. Immerse yourself in the community of believers that God has given you for your good. And ask Him to work in you through His Spirit, so that the commitment and excitement that suffused that Jerusalem church might be your experience too.
22“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23this Jesus,4 delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
36Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
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