The first time I decided to bring my Bible to the church I grew up in, I was a brand-new believer, and I was so excited. But one of the church leaders stopped me in the foyer and said, "What are you doing with that thing?" He had never seen someone bring a Bible to church before.

Contrast that with the early church in Jerusalem. The first thing on their list of priorities was doctrine: "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42). Now, doctrine simply means healthy, solid instruction or teaching, specifically of God's Word. Why did the early church put such an emphasis on it?

1. Because learning leads to growing. Acts 2 tells us that as the early church listened to and learned doctrine, they grew (see v. 47). Now, some folks preach that what's really important is not what you know, but how you feel. Yet God said through the prophet Hosea, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). If you're not taking in spiritual food (see 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18), then you're not going to grow spiritually; you'll shrivel up.

2. Because preaching leads to practicing. The church devoted themselves to the apostles' doctrine—what the apostles themselves preached concerning Old Testament texts and how they applied to the lives of New Testament believers—and then they put it into practice (see Acts 5:42; 6:7). That's typically how God changes a person: by the preaching of the Word applied to their life. That's why doctrine must remain front and center in the church today.

3. Because continuing leads to persevering. Notice the church "continued steadfastly" in doctrine. The text doesn't say they began with it then moved on to something else. They persevered in it consistently over time, even when persecution and hardship came along.

So let me encourage you to keep at it, to continue believing and relying on and living in the promises of the Word of God in all seasons of life. It's easy to follow Jesus in good times, but He calls us to follow Him at all times. So no matter what happens, let's continue steadfastly in doctrine, learning, growing, and then being transformed as we put into practice what God speaks to us through the preaching of His Word.

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