Discipleship can honestly be claimed only by those who are willing to abide in the word of the Lord. A handle on truth and freedom is promised to be available to those who so abide. In Jno 8:31-32, Jesus told those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
James spoke about abiding in the word, in terms of “doing”. He said, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does”, Jas 1:25. The writer of the Hebrew letter tells us that spiritual maturity belongs to those who have trained their senses to discern good and evil, through the practice of the word of God, Heb. 5:14. That tells us that spiritual maturity does not come through just hearing or reading the word of God, but through doing what it says. Spiritual maturity does not come through preaching the word to the people in the pews. It comes from the practice of the word by the Christians who live in the world.
An important prerequisite for practicing the word of God is that one must first delight in it. The psalmist tells us that the man who delights in the law of the Lord is blessed because of what his delight in the word will enable him to avoid and what will empower him to do. “He will not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers, but he will meditate in the law of the Lord day and night,” Ps. 1:1, 2.
Paul gave Timothy several personal suggestions to help him in his ministry. Then he added, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all,” 1 Tim. 4:15. Could that be one of our problems, that we are not willing to take pains with and be absorbed in the study and practice of God’s word? If we could catch spirituality as easily as we catch a cold, we would be in good shape. But with spirituality it takes more than exposure. It takes effort, painstaking effort and absorption, it takes diligence, training and practice and the doing of God’s word. Yet many of us do not even avail ourselves of all the Bible study opportunities the church offers us. Is it because we are so engrossed in our own personal study that some of us don’t need the benefits of our Bible classes? If so, then surely the rest of the congregation would benefit greatly from our presence and from what we could contribute to the classes! After all, Christianity is a mutually beneficial association of people, who not only love the Lord, but also each other. Paul stressed to the Corinthian Christians that their “gifts” were for the common good, 1 Cor. 12:7. And in Gal. 6:2, he did teach us we are to bear one another’s burdens, didn’t he?
What do we want from Christianity? Is it our names on the church office roll, in the church directory, or do we want them written in the Lamb’s Book of Life??? The prerequisites are not always the same Whose roll are you on?
- Ken Baird, Drexel Blvd. church of Christ, Oklahoma City, OK