By W. A. Mills, Jr.
Men’s Ministries Director
Men’s Ministries theme for 2019, “Guard This Man” from 1 Kings 20:39, correlates well with Discipleship Ministries theme found in Acts 2:42 (NKJV) “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”1 This quarter’s emphasis is on “Sound in Doctrine”. The number one responsibility of every man is to “guard this man” so that he, among other things, is sound in doctrine.
Lifeway Research interviewed discipleship experts from eight countries, as well as surveyed 1,000 pastors and more than 4,000 Protestants from North America. Their intensive research revealed eight attributes of discipleship that consistently show up in the lives of believers who are progressing in spiritual maturity. The very first attribute was Bible engagement2 affirming Luke’s record of the early church, “They continued steadfastly in the apostle’s teaching.”3
Bible engagement means spiritual maturity. The most basic essential for any healthy church is a commitment to hearing, learning, and applying God’s Word. The depth of your devotion to the Word of God will determine your spiritual growth. This fact is undeniably evident in the Berean Church of Acts 17, where Luke says in verses 11-12, “They received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.”4 Three observations about the Berean Church are worthy of our emulation, ensuring we will be sound in doctrine.
First, they RECEIVED the Word of God. They warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the message, giving ear to the truth, thereby embracing the scripture as the final authority for life and living. If we are going to be “sound in doctrine,” then we must first receive the Word of God.
Second, they RESEARCHED the Word of God, examining the scriptures daily to see if those things were so. The late Dr. Kenneth Benson, former president of Holmes Bible College, taught me that the believer is to interpret scripture with scripture. A failure to devote one’s self to the faithful study of the Bible will leave one vulnerable to a counterfeit Christianity, the deception of false doctrines, and the growing tendency to dismiss the authority of the divinely inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God.
Third, they RESPONDED to the Word of God. “A lot of them became believers, including many Greeks who were prominent in the community, women and men of influence” (Acts 17:12, MSG).5 They wanted to hear from God, so they could live for God. There is a moral element involved in hearing the truth. “Be an expert on the Word of God and you will always know what to say to the culture.”6
Are we willing to OBEY the word of God? The greatest gap is between knowing and doing. The challenge for all of us, as we embark upon a new year, is to close the gap. Receive the Word, Research the Word, and Respond to the Word, getting the Bible into your head, your heart, and your hands until information leads to transformation, which then leads to reformation. Guard this man so that he is sound in doctrine!