As we already know, the Christian church was born when the Holy Spirit was poured out. Amazingly, in the hours afterward, thousands of people converted to the faith, and the new believers fell into an inspired new rhythm of congregational life. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
In the beginning, Christian doctrine was transmitted orally since there wasn’t a written New Testament. The apostles spoke the gospel and the associated teachings they heard from Jesus. This was the Word of God that the early believers “devoted themselves to.”
That kind of dedication to the Word is always a vital sign that the Holy Spirit is moving in the life of a person or a church. Believers have a hunger to hear, read, study, and in particular, understand more about the Word of God.
That makes sense, of course, since the Holy Spirit was the one who inspired the Bible. He was the author who inspired the writers. The Bible is His book. Spirit-controlled Christians don’t usually have to force themselves to read the Bible; the Spirit gives them a holy appetite for it.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, so He will always direct us toward God’s truth. When a person has little interest in the Word, or when Scripture seems dull and tedious to a church body, that is a sign that something is seriously out of sync. When we don’t have respect for the Word and reverence for its authority, and when we don’t humble ourselves to hear what God has said, we’re on the wrong path.
I know it is possible today to gather large numbers of people together on a Sunday without a strong emphasis on the Word. In fact, many of the people sitting in the pew might be totally content without hearing careful Bible preaching and exposition. But when we wander away from the Word, thinking we can live without it day after day, week after week, we cease to grow spiritually and open ourselves to spiritual deception. The apostle Peter wrote, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, emphasis added). The Word of God contains the vital spiritual nutrients we need—every day—to grow in Christ.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.