Simply Devoted to His Sufficient Word (Acts 2:41-42) | Jared Betts

The Worthiness of Jesus Christ

We left off our study in Acts discussing the necessity of worshipping Jesus Christ the way He wants to be worshipped. He defines what the worship of Himself is to look like, and He deserves to be worshipped in accordance with what He defines. Why? For who He is! He is God.[1] He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Beginning and the End. He is the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.[2] He is the true and faithful witness. He is not just they Way and the Life, but the Truth.[3] He is the firstborn of the dead. He is our life. All who believe in Him will live even if they die.[4] Because He lives, we too shall live.[5] He is the King of the rulers of the earth, the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possess immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.[6] He is therefore worthy of all honor, glory and praise simply for who He is.

Not only is He worthy for who He is, but He is worthy for what He has done for us. He loves us because He loves us.[7] There is nothing in us that could possibly garner this love for us. We are ungodly, unrighteous, unholy people, yet He demonstrated His love toward us in that while we are yet sinners, He died for us and released us from our sins by His blood.[8] When we were dead in our trespasses and sin, walking according to the course of this world and living in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the impulses and imaginations of our evil nature, God made us alive together with Christ purely because of His great love with which He loved us.[9] He has brought us near to God by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.[10] He is, therefore, worthy to be worshipped for what He has done.

As we recall, true worship is dictated by God. Meaning God establishes what the worship of Himself is to look like, and not man. We have never been delegated the authority to regulate the worship of God. The form and content of our corporate worship is to be governed by God through the Scripture alone. We are to do only that which God sanctions, because He is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise. We declare His worth through faithful obedience to His definition of true worship. The elements of worship that God has regulated to take place on the Lord’s Day among His church are:

  1. The Reading, Preaching, and Hearing of the Scriptures.[11]
  2. The Teaching and Admonishing of one another in psalms, and Hymns, and spiritual songs.[12]
  3. The observance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.[13]
  4. The Prayer of His people to Him in Christ by the Spirit.[14]

In the end, we see that true worship boils down to simple devotion. God requires of those whom He has graciously called out of darkness into His marvelous light and life to simple devotion.  Simple devotion to His word, to genuine fellowship with His people, to His ordinances (Baptism and The Lord’s Supper), and to corporately communing with Him through prayer. This is the worship God regulates.

Tucked away in these two verses, we find all of this happening among people, who, after the preaching of Simon Peter, lost sight of themselves in order to pursuit the only One worthy to be loved and lived for, Jesus Christ. Acts 2:41-42 says:

41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Here we see the beauty of Christ being worshipped the very way He wants to be.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.[15] He has not changed, for He is immutable; therefore, His standard of worship has not changed either. Today we will deal specifically with the churches continued devotion to the Apostles teaching. We want to pay close attention to this, for if such devotion is the means through which Christ wishes to be worshipped, then we, as His worshippers, must apply our minds to understanding exactly what the Apostles Teaching is, how this devotion appears in our corporate gatherings, and why such devotion is essential.

We should seek to understand all this so that our worship of Him may not be considered vain.[16] True worship is sincere, Spirit directed worship that is done in accordance with the Scripture. As Jesus said to the women at the well:

23 An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

The Apostle’s Teaching

Let us begin by establishing a definition for the Apostle’s Teaching. Teaching here is the Greek word, Didachē (did-akh-ay’), which simple means doctrine.[17] Doctrine does not just refer to the act of teaching, but the body of truth that encompasses it. In Acts, we see all the believers at Pentecost persevering in the doctrine of the Twelve, which undoubtedly means that the members of the body of Christ were dedicating themselves to the Word of the Living God.

The Apostles at this point in Acts refers to the twelve men who followed Christ from the baptism of John all the way through to His ascension and were personally picked by Jesus: Peter, John and James Zebedee, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, and Matthias who was chosen by Christ through the casting of lots.[18]

The Apostle Paul was not part of the Twelve, but he was an Apostle chosen by Christ.[19] He described his apostleship in 1 Corinthians 15:8 as being “one untimely born.” He considered himself to be “the least of the apostles” and “not fit to be called an apostle” given his persecution of the church.[20] His words, however, were just as authoritative as the Twelve because He was one personally sent by Christ.

The Apostles were commissioned by Jesus to be witnesses of His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Their task was to demonstrate to the world that Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scripture. As His witnesses, they would reason with people to see that Jesus is both the Christ the Scripture foretold, and the Lord it speaks of whom people are to call upon to be saved. We see this with the Twelve in Acts 5:42, which says:

42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”

We see this with the Apostle Paul in Thessalonica in Acts 17:2-3 which says:

According to Paul’s custom, he went to them (Jews in the Synagogue), and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

Take a moment to consider the road to Emmaus in Luke 24 when Jesus spoke with two men devasted about the news of His death and unaware of His resurrection. What does the text say Jesus did with them? It says:

25 He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”[21]

In Luke 24:44-45, we see His interaction with His apostles:

44 He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”

He granted them the ability to grasp what the prophets eagerly sought to understand, and the angels yearned to know. As Peter says in 1 Peter 1:10-12:

10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”

All of Scripture speaks of Him, and He opened His Apostle’s minds to see this so that they would teach it. Luke 24:46-49 goes on to sum up the content of their teaching:

“46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

These verses contain a surface level view of the Apostle’s teaching; however, we should not dismiss this as if it is lacking doctrinal substance, rather we should realize the sheer amount of doctrine Jesus opened their minds to understand so that they might adequately teach others to know the truth and live accordingly to it. In other words, The Apostle’s commission was not devoid of doctrine for it was a commission to indoctrinate with the truth, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”[22] Such teaching demands depth in doctrine.

In this brief portion in Luke 24:46-49, just consider the vast body of doctrinal truth the Apostles teaching would naturally touch upon either directly or indirectly:

  1. Bibliology (The Study of the Bible), “Thus it is written…”
  2. Christology (The Study of Christ), “…that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day…”
  3. Theology (The Study of God), Anthropology (The Study of Man), Hamartiology (The Study of Sin), and Soteriology (The Study of Salvation), “…and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name…”
  4. Missiology (The Study of Missions), “…to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
  5. Pneumatology (The Study of the Spirit), and Ecclesiology (The Study of the Church), “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The Apostles did not despise sound doctrine, they devoted themselves to it. Christ sent them out as doctrinal powerhouses. He opened their minds to understand rich and robust theology. Yes, these were uneducated and untrained men according to the world’s standard.[23] They had not been schooled by the Scribes and Pharisees, rather they were taught by Christ, and God used them to put to shame the wisdom of the world for “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, the weakness of God is stronger than men.”[24] As Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29:

27 God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.”

As the Apostles devoted themselves to teaching sound doctrine, God bore witness through them that they were speaking the truth. Hebrews 2:3-4 says of their teaching of salvation:

“After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”

The Christ centered doctrine of the apostles is the bedrock of the church. Ephesians 2:20 tells us that the Church is:

20 Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.”

The church is to be the pillar and support of the truth, which is only possible when it is devoted to sound doctrine.

The Qualities of our Devotion

The question we now want to answer is this: How does this devotion appear in our corporate gatherings together? What does worshipful devotion to Christ’s word look like when we are together? There are two aspects to this, first it requires simple and sincere devotion from Pastors, and second, from His people.

The Church belongs to Christ.[25] It is His bride.[26] It is His body with Him as its head.[27] He has given to His body men whom He has gifted as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints.[28] Paul reminded the Ephesian elders that the Holy Spirit had made them overseers of the flock to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.[29] The primary duty of an elder, of an overseer, of a pastor, is to teach sound doctrine. Paul instructs Timothy that for a man to even be qualified for the office of pastor, he must be “able to teach.”[30] Titus 1:9 says that a pastor must be able to “hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching.” To “hold fast” means that he must cleave to doctrine, and he must do this because his duty requires “that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine, and to refute those who contradict.” He must be equipped to contend for the faith which has been once for all delivered to the saints.[31]

            Just consider Paul’s instruction to Timothy in what is known as the first pastoral epistle. In the letter, Paul writes to Timothy so that he might know how the church is to conduct itself.[32] In 1 Timothy 4:6, Paul tells Timothy to be “constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine” which he was following. In verse 13, Paul instructed him to “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” In verse 15, Paul told him not to neglect the gift within him, but to take great “pains with these things”, to “be absorbed in them.” In verse 16, Paul says to him:

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

A Pastor is to be devoted to sound doctrine. They are to be constantly nourished by it and teaching it. They are to take pains in their study of it. It is to consume them not merely for their own benefit, but the benefit of all who hear them. Why? Doctrine is critical. Bad doctrine destroys people, but sound doctrine brings life both quantitatively and qualitatively. In other words, it does not just provide a person with eternal life, but also the means to lay hold of that eternal life and live it abundantly in the here and now.

Regarding a pastor’s duty to devote themselves to sound doctrine, consider Paul’s second letter to Timothy. There are at least five things Paul instructs Timothy to do with sound doctrine in this letter: Retain it, Guard it, Entrust it, Study it, and Preach it. In 2 Timothy 1:13, Paul says to him, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me.” Just as a cup retains water within it, Timothy was to hold on to doctrine. In verse 14, Paul tells him to “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” In other words, contend for the faith. In chapter 2 verse 2, Paul says this to Timothy:

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

In other words, “Deliver sound doctrine to trustworthy men capable of delivering it to others.” In verse 15, Paul commands to devote himself to the study and handling of the word:

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

Finally, Paul says to him in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

            Again, a pastor is to be devoted to sound doctrine. He is to be like Ezra the scribe who “had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”[33] This is just what Ezra did. In Nehemiah, Ezra read the word of God to the people of God. He stood with the book of the Law before the entire congregation elevated at a wooden podium which they made exclusively for that purpose. From there, he and the leaders of Israel explained the Law to the people. Nehemiah 8:8 says:

“They read from the book, from the law of God, explaining to give the sense so that they understood the reading.”

These are the characteristics of a pastor’s worshipful devotion to doctrine. A pastor spends his time drawing near to God through the study of His word exegeting the Scripture, that is to draw the truth out of it, all so that he may then explain it to God’s people to give the sense of it so that they understand the reading and can conform themselves to it. This is the sincere and simple devotion God requires of pastors in the worship of Him.

            What then does God require of you, His people? It is simple. First, that you devote yourselves to listening to its truth so that you might understand sound doctrine. Do as Colossians 3:16 says and “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” Hold every thought captive in Him.[34] The Scripture is to shape the way we think of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, of Man, of Sin, of Salvation, of the Church, of life itself. It is the lens by which we interpret reality. Our experiences do not help us to interpret the Scripture, rather the Scripture tells us how to interpret our experiences. It is the truth of God we are to be sanctified in. Be like the Bereans, who after they were taught sound doctrine, “received the word with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily.”[35] When we are gathered, devote yourselves to listening to the explanation of the Word so that you might understanding the doctrine being taught, and seek clarity when you do not.

Second, devote yourselves to living in a manner consistent with the sound doctrine you are devoted to. Do not be just hearers of the word, but doers of it.[36] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, that you may prove what the will of God is.[37] Pursue sound doctrine so that you might be renewed in the spirit of your mind:

24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”[38]

All of this depends upon your sincere devotion to the Apostle’s teaching and living in the light of it. Christ is worshipped by such simple devotion.

There are many today who seem to think they can divorce themselves from doctrine and still live a life pleasing to God. They do not realize that sound doctrine is the foundation of a sound life. It is essential to sound living. You cannot get sound living without sound doctrine. Orthopraxy is the product which flows from orthodoxy. People walk along a dangerous path when they attempt to lead a life devoid of sound doctrine. Is doctrine the sole pursuit of the Christian? No, all of life lived to the glory of God is. Doctrine is not the end of the Christian walk, but it is the means by which we all begin to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called in Christ.[39]

Simply Devoted to His Sufficient Word

We are all to devote our selves to the Word of the Living God. Our devotion to His Scripture is essential because it is sufficient. The truth contained within the pages of His Word is enough for us to understand life and godliness. It is enough to make one wise unto salvation in Jesus Christ, and it is enough to progressively sanctify the one who has been made wise in Him.[40] 2 Timothy 3:16-17 beautifully reveals this truth when it says:

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.[41] The truth of the Scripture is sufficient to teach us what to believe, how to live, and what God expects of us. It is sufficient to reveal to us our errors and all the ways in which we depart from the glory of God. It is sufficient to reveal to us the correct beliefs to hold and the appropriate behavior to adorn ourselves with. Lastly, it is sufficient to train us in righteousness, which means it is enough to guides us in how to daily live to the glory of God.

If we really want to understand what Scripture says about its being enough for all matters pertaining to life and godliness, we need only to consider Psalm 119. This Psalm is basically 176 verses boldly and unapologetically declaring the sufficiency of the Scripture. Verses 37-40:

37 Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
38 Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
39 Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.
40 Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.”

Verse 105:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Verses 129-133:

129 Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.
130 The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
131 I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.
133 Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.”

Verses 137-138:

137 Righteous are You, O Lord,
And upright are Your judgments.
138 You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness and exceeding faithfulness.”

Verse 140:

“Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.”

Verses 142-144:

142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.
143 Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.”

Verse 160:

160 The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

Again, Psalm 119 wonderfully declares the sufficiency of the Scripture. It asserts to all who read, that man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.[42] It is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.[43] It is the supreme measure of all human thought and teaching.[44] The believers in Acts worshipped Christ by continually devoting themselves it. May we be a people simply and sincerely devoted to it as well, and by such devotion grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. As Ephesians 4:11-16 says:

11 He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

[1] John 10:30

[2] Revelation 1:8

[3] John 14:6

[4] John 11:25-26

[5] John 14:19

[6] 1 Timothy 6:15-16

[7] Deuteronomy 7:7-8

[8] Romans 5:6; Revelation 1:5

[9] Ephesians 2:1-5

[10] Ephesians 2:13; Revelations 1:6

[11] 1 Timothy 4:2,13

[12] Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16

[13] Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:26

[14] Colossians 4:2

[15] Hebrews 13:8

[16] Mark 7:7-8

[17] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; G1322: Teaching, Didachē

[18] Acts 1:13, 21-26

[19] Acts 9:1-16

[20] 1 Corinthians 15:9

[21] Luke 24:25-27

[22] Matthew 28:19,20

[23] Acts 4:13

[24] 1 Corinthians 1:25

[25] Matthew 16:18

[26] Ephesians 5:25-26

[27] Ephesians 1:22-23

[28] Ephesians 4:11

[29] Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5

[30] 1 Timothy 3:2

[31] Jude 4

[32] 1 Timothy 3:15

[33] Ezra 7:10

[34] 2 Corinthians 10:5

[35] Acts 17:11

[36] James 1:22

[37] Romans 12:2

[38] Ephesians 4:24

[39] Ephesians 4:1

[40] 2 Timothy 3:

[41] 2 Peter 1:20-21

[42] Matthew 4:4

[43] The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689; Article 1, Section 1

[44] The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689; Article 1, Section 10

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