But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:21
The way we grow in our knowledge of God and our joy in the truth is by letting the Word of God dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16) – through regularly hearing God’s Word faithfully preached and by reading His Word for ourselves. However, it’s possible to spend hours listening to sermons, reading books and even reading the Bible, and still come to dubious conclusions.
• Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to open your eyes to the truth (Psalm 119:18), and to expose error in your beliefs and sin in your life.
• Test everything by what the Bible says, not by your favourite preacher or author. This applies to the Bible itself. It can be easy to get the wrong end of the stick if you take one verse out of context and come to a conclusion about what it means. Read the whole passage and better still, read the whole Bible regularly. Test to see whether what you’re thinking or what’s being preached is consistent with what the whole Bible teaches.
• With that in mind, make a commitment to read and get to know the whole of God’s Word, both Old Testament and New. Find a fellowship that preaches through whole books of the Bible, rather than favourite isolated texts.
• Make it a priority to read God’s Word and hear it preached regularly. God’s Word is the food we need daily to sustain us, to refine and build our faith, to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God and in our love for Him, to expose our sin and call us to turn from it, to equip us to live godly lives to the glory of God, and to inspire us to reach out to others with the gospel. You can’t live on what you learned years or decades ago, however good it was. You may remember with delight the wonderful five-course meal you ate back in 1981, but to live you need food today.
In Acts 17 the believers in Berea, and even called “more noble than those in Thessalonica”. Why? “[T]hey received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”