Part of our church’s tagline is “Bible-Focused.” We don’t worship the Bible. Nor do we only read and study the Bible. Yet, the Bible plays a crucial role in our church life because the Bible is God’s Word. It’s central to our life as seen in its centrality in our times of worship every Sunday. But outside of Sunday morning, in our efforts throughout the week to make disciples, the Word should also be central. The Bible should drive how we make disciples.
Why? Because, ultimately, it’s the Scriptures that bears God’s authority and reveal his power. It is through the Bible that dead men come alive and ruined men are made whole. God’s brings change through his Word.
Think of the imagery in the Bible that is used to describe the Bible. The most striking picture may be from Ezekiel 37. The chapter opens with a vision a battlefield filled with dry bones. As the prophet surveys the scene, he understands that no life yet and no chance of anything remotely like life. Then God asks the prophet if those bones can live again (37:3)?
The prophet doesn’t know how, but believers the Lord knows the answer (37:3). Then, the Lord tells the prophet Ezekiel to preach to the bones. He obeyed the Lord. And as he preached to the bones, they lived again (37:7–10)! Then God reveals the reason for this vision.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD” (Ezek 37:11–14).
God’s word is powerful. It brings spiritual life. That’s what this vision has been about. The Spirit of God moves in connection with the preached word to bring life and change. When we survey the rest of Scripture, we see what this change looks like. Through the Word, we have:
- faith. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17).
- blessing when we hear and obey. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28)
- new life. “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23).
- sustained life. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'” (Matt 4:4).
- spiritual growth. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation” (1 Pet 2:2).
- revealed hearts. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
- guidance into godly living. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”(Ps 119:105).
- protection against sin. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:9-11).
- sanctification. “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
- freedom. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
- revived souls. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps 19:7).
- joyful hearts. “the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart” (Psalm 19:8).
- equipping for ministry. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–17).
In all of this, God’s Word is said to be like a fire and a hammer (Jer 23:29). It’s like seed that grows (Mark 4:14, 20). Through his Word, God accomplishes his purposes in our lives and in the world. And this why our efforts at disciple-making must be driven by God’s Word.
Outside the church, we have people whose lives a wreck. They’re lives are overflowing with sin. We see others who are suffering because of the sin in other people. Some are hopeless, others are angry. All of them are separated from God and need to hear his Word so that God might call them to himself.
Inside the church, we have people who are also needy. Some are like a boat without a rudder. They have faith, but they are adrift because of the pressures in the world. They are just bobbing around where culture takes them. Others are struggling with sins that just won’t seem to go away. Others may be dealing with depression or a lack of assurance that God could really save them. They also need to hear from God through his Word. They need to hear of his glorious character and unfailing promises. They need to be reminded of the risen Christ who is interceding for them and God’s Holy Spirit who dwells with them and empowers them to rest in God’s loving care and move deeper into faithful Christian living.
Others are stable in their faith. But they need to grow. They need someone to put a compelling vision of the Christian life before their eyes; a vision of the Christian life that is more than mere add-on. They need to see that every part of their life—money, marriage, kids, work—all of it falls under the lordship of Christ. They need to heard from God through his Word. They need to see God’s glory and be captivated by it, so that they will joyfully yield to his authority in their lives. In turn, they will want to spread the knowledge of God through the gospel of Christ.
The Bible—speaking God’s Word—should drive our efforts at disciple-making. And next month, we have an opportunity to learn better how to let the Word do the work. Join us for our One-to-One Bible Reading Workshop. Here we’ll see how everything we do in disciple-making—sharing our faith with the lost, helping new believers grow, encouraging ever-deepening faith in mature believers, and training others to better make disciples—can be enhanced through one-to-one Bible reading.
If you aren’t local or can’t make it, please consider taking advantage of some resources we have put together to help train you for ministry (scroll down to the section called, ‘Reading the Bible with Others’).
Note: A version of this article was cross-posted on the Providence Bible Fellowship Blog.