As we approach our Annual Church Meeting next Sunday 7 May, we’re reflecting on what kind of community that we want to be by revisiting our church values. Our second church value is ‘Teach the Bible’.
God’s Word must be central in our lives as individuals and as a church because God’s Spirit uses God’s Word to create faith in us and to grow faith in us. Jesus replied to Satan, quoting from Deuteronomy, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). On the night before he died, Jesus prayed for his disciples, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). God’s Word not only gives life, it also gives us direction as it shapes and moulds us into the image of the God who speaks to us.
So, in what practical ways do we prioritise listening to God’s Word at St Andrew’s?
Firstly, we are committed to expositional preaching at our Sunday services. Expositional preaching takes the main point of the sermon from the main point of a passage of Scripture. It is usually taken in contrast to topical preaching, which takes a subject and talks about it, rather than taking a particular Bible text as its subject. A topical sermon can sometimes be expositional in that a passage is selected and preached. However, it’s still topical, as the preacher has first selected a subject and then sees what the Bible is going to say about. At St Andrew’s, we’ll occasionally preach topical sermons, but our main diet is expositional sermons, as we preach through books of the Bible. As we do so, we let God’s Word, not the preacher, set the agenda as God challenges us in often unexpected and difficult ways.
How can you respond to the preaching of God’s Word? Read the Sunday passage before you come to church to listen to the passage explained. Talk and pray with friends about what you’ve learned afterwards. Develop habits of asking questions of the text itself. Cultivate humility, as God’s Word challenges your thinking, assumptions, and habits.
Secondly, we are committed to studying God’s Word together in small groups. Our Growth Groups are vital contexts for exploring the Bible more deeply, asking questions, discussing its application to our lives, and praying through the issues raised. It’s in these intimate groups that we can more easily speak the truth in love to one another, growing in maturity as a body whose head is Christ (Eph. 4:15).
Thirdly, we are committed to studying God’s Word individually. Let’s face it, we all live busy lives and it’s easy to let daily Bible reading get crowded off our schedule. Our habits form our character. To grow in spiritual maturity, we need to be regularly nourished by God’s Word. Otherwise, we’ll be spiritually malnourished and stunted, taking our cues from what the world tells us, rather than what God’s Word says. A habit of even just fifteen minutes of reading a passage, reflecting on it, and praying about it, makes all the difference. We’ll be able to say with the psalmist, “Your word is a lamp to feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105).