Someone once informed me that there is no such thing as a bad short sermon! Can you possibly believe such a statement? Of course, I can understand the message behind the statement but surely God’s Word has so much more to say than can possibly be said in one short service of worship. Besides, we all know that “sermonettes produce Christianettes” and it is very sad to see churches inhabited by scores of diminutive “baby” Christians who neither understand the deep truths of God’s matchless grace, nor have the matching behavior necessary to accommodate the combat required for all of the Lord’s army in our increasingly pagan and secular world. So, given the brevity of time to preach and teach and the need to get to lunch before the Methodists, is it possible to grow deeper in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord? Sadly, the Muslims, Mormons and Hasidic Jews seem to know more about the fundamentals of their religion than most Christians do. As believers we must go deeper. We must study God’s Word more and give ourselves to the time to read, learn, and inwardly digest the unsearchable riches of God’s grace.
Paul implored the Church at Ephesus to position themselves functionally to receive the Word through apostles, teachers and evangelists (Ephesians 4:11). This was vital, he contended, so that God’s people would be prepared “for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (12-13) Then we will “no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by cunning and craftiness of men in their scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (14-15)
I am certain this is who you want to be. I do. How grateful I am for so many of my people who genuinely want to be strong, growing, and productive disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the “rocks” in our church and in our community. These are the people who really make a difference. These are the ones to whom so many turn in their times of need. So, what needs to be done? In our fast paced world which is rapidly changing and battling to keep up with itself, how can we become all that God intends for us to be by growing deeper in His Word. Here are a few suggestions.
“Sermonettes produce Christianettes.”
First, make certain you know who you are in Christ. Remember that the Christian life is far more about what Christ has done for you than what you can possibly do for Christ. I am so blessed by Paul’s powerful admonition to the Roman church that our salvation has allowed us to “gain access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Romans 5:2) God, by His Spirit, has granted us entry into His sphere of grace. This means we can trust Him to open the eyes of our understanding and allow us to see far beyond the limits of our own human limitation.
Second, we must make certain we are fully dependent on the Holy Spirit. John tells us that when He, “the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13)
Third, always study God’s Word with an attitude of prayer. Prayer is the means by which we not only talk to God, but the means by which we most prominently hear from God. When God speaks, He takes us deeper than we can ever go on our own. God’s words are profound in every way and are the root and source of all of His marvelous mysteries. Perhaps much of the shallowness of our Christian faith is the result of the scarcity of our conversations with the God and Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I have heard it said that if you want to know more about God, talk with Him! The truth is our corporate and personal prayer lives are pitiful, to say the least.
Fourth, try to set a regular pattern for your personal study. Some find it easier to meet very early in the morning. Some have “quiet times” before the rooster crows and they love it. This does not work for me. Besides, “before the rooster crows” in my house I am having a quiet time. It is dead quiet in my bedroom! So, just set a pattern that will best suit your schedule – otherwise it will seldom be accomplished.
Finally, but not conclusively, establish a pattern for study. Here is what I do most of the time. I pray. Then I read a passage, chapter or section of the Bible! Then I write down in a notebook whatever thoughts come to my heart and mind. After all of this I sometimes read a commentary or book written “about” that particular section of Scripture or the subject under review. This will all depend, of course, on the amount of time you have allot- ted for your study time.
Take a page from Nike. “Just do it!” Go deeper in God’s Word. Do whatever it takes. Your life will be so blessed as a result and God’s grace will abound in you. •LR•
Dr. Don Wilton is pastor of First Baptist Church Spartanburg and author of the books Praying for a Miracle and Defying the Odds