They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
God uses the church to generate the power of His Holy Spirit into our lives. And one characteristic of a winning church is instruction–the teaching that comes from God’s Word. The early church understood that instruction from God’s Word is an integral part of worship.
You might say, “If the Holy Spirit dwells within me, can’t I just study God’s Word on my own? Why do I need to go to church in order to hear God’s Word?”
Let’s see what God says about that. Look at Ephesians 4:11: “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” In the original text, there is no “and” between “pastors” and “teachers.” It is one word: “pastor-teacher.” Why did God ordain these pastor-teachers? “For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 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” (vv. 12-13).
God is in the body-building business. The purpose of the church is to build you up in such a way that you resemble Jesus Christ in all His fullness–not in your physique but in your actions, attitudes, and affections. How does God accomplish that? Think about a professional athlete. If an athlete is serious about building muscle, his coach will hire a trainer. It is the same way here. God has hired trainers to help you become just like Jesus Christ, and in the church the trainer is the pastor-teacher. He is the one God has ordained to teach you the Word of God so you can grow in your faith.
Yes, it is valuable to study the Bible for yourself. As 1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” However, a personal study of God’s Word is no substitute for sitting under the preaching of God’s Word. In fact, as you read the New Testament, you will find that listening to the Word of God from a sound teacher is commanded as much as or more than studying the Word for yourself. If you are only engaged in your own personal Bible study, you are missing out on what God has planned for you. The early church received instruction from a God-ordained pastor-teacher, and that is God’s plan for your growth as well.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Winning Church” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.