As we begin our first sermon series at Cities Church, it’s worth noting why we’ll be working through the entire book of Acts. This isn’t because topical sermons don’t have a place. You heard two topical sermons over the last two weeks. The reason that we’re preaching through a book of the Bible is because we want to be “whole counsel of God” people. That phrase—the whole counsel of God—appears in Acts 20, as Paul describes his life’s ministry. And the pastors of this church want us to be whole counsel of God people by preaching through the Book of Acts over the next 8 months.
But in addition to the weekly sermons, we also want to encourage you to become whole counsel of God people by developing a deep familiarity with the Scriptures. I like that word—familiarity. Like family. I want the Bible to be like family to me. I want it to have that nearness and closeness and comfort that I have with my family. I want it to work its way into my heart and mind and imagination so that it begins to fit me like my favorite t-shirt. I want my mind to run in biblical ruts.
So let me encourage you to become more familiar with the Bible. We live in an age when the whole counsel of God is available to us in so many ways. Do the inductive study on Acts that Pastor Michael put together. Read the Scriptures. Read the Scriptures out loud, so that your eyes, your mouth, and your ears work together to make it stick. Read it to your spouse; read it to your kids at the dinner table. Make the most of your commute by listening to an audio Bible. Loop a passage over and over until it sinks into your memory. Pray through the Bible, turning whole passages into petitions and supplications. Don Carson has a great book called Praying with Paul that walks through Paul’s prayers. My colleague Brian Tabb has authored a study guide to accompany that book. Write out passages of Scripture by hand so that the muscles of your fingers help your mind to capture the truth. Use every available means to get the Bible into you so that you become familiar with the whole counsel of God.
Don’t be discouraged if miracles don’t happen as you do so. We’re after a long obedience in the same direction, and slow and steady wins the race. Read the Book. Study the Book. Speak the Book. Hear the Book. Pray the Book. Write out the Book. Eat the Book. Make the Book—the whole counsel of God—your family.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins, so let us seek the Lord together now.
Prayer of Confession
Our Father and God, you have written a book to reveal yourself to us. You have given us everything we need for life and godliness by compressing truth into 66 mini-books in your Holy Scriptures. This fact does not amaze us enough. We confess that despite all of the ways that we have access to your Word, we don’t not attend to it in the way we ought. You have spoken, and we have turned aside. We have grown bored with the whole counsel of God, and ceased to mine its riches. The people of the earth ignore your promises, reject your warnings, and despise your commands. They have erected for themselves their own traditions, which they cling to like an alcoholic clings to his last bottle of Scotch. This is a great evil.
What’s more, as your covenant people, we too have grown bored with your Word. We do not desire it more than gold; we do not find it sweeter than honey. Our Bibles collect dust on our shelves while we devour posts, tweets, emails, updates, and photos of other people’s food. And so we seek your forgiveness for our failure to heed your Book, and we ask that you would renew in us a hunger for the Word that compels us to read, study, hear, pray, sing, and eat your Book, that we might more fully reflect your grace and goodness to the world.
We know, Father, that if we in the Church regard sin in our own midst, or in our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual. And so we confess our individual sins to you now.