Some years ago a cartoon appeared in a journal for preachers. It showed an angel speaking to a preacher who was standing outside his study. The angel was pointing into the study, where a Bible could be seen lying on the desk. The caption read, “Your sermons are inside. Some assembly required.” The point of the cartoon is obvious. If a preacher intends to deliver a sermon on Sunday he will have to work on it, assemble it, as it were, during the week.
Any preacher worth his salt knows that this is true. Sermons do not come together miraculously, without any study and effort on his part. Unless a preacher spends his time in diligent study of God’s word, he cannot proclaim it as it must be proclaimed. Unless he spends time honing his skills, both in the knowledge of God’s word and in putting his sermons together so they are understandable to his audience, his preaching will be worse than useless. It may even lead some astray.
“Some assembly required” does not apply solely to preachers, though. It is, in fact, a requirement in every Christian’s life. This truth is suggested by Peter’s command in 1 Pet. 2:1-3, where he said, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
When we obey the gospel our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), and we rise from baptism to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Jesus called this the new birth (Jn. 3:3, 5), and thus, as Peter said, we are “like newborn babies”. This means that we are beginning the process of “assembling” a life in Christ that will honor the Lord and fulfill His will for us. In the same way that raising a physical baby to maturity is hard work, so also is the spiritual process of growing from infancy to maturity in Christ.
Many of us have known older men and women whose godly lives and encyclopedic knowledge of God’s word was awe inspiring. We may have wished to ourselves that we knew the scriptures as they do. We may have wished that one day our lives would model Christ as theirs do. What we often overlook in such wishes is what it took for these godly men and women to reach such a mature state.
These men and women were not born this way. Neither did they wake up one day, mature in years and gifted with an uncommon knowledge of God’s word. The simple truth is that these men and women literally spent countless hours over many years in diligent study of God’s word, and in practicing the things they learned from it, in order to reach the level of maturity that we observe in them. Ultimately, this is the key to replicating their results.
In Heb. 5:11-14 the scripture speaks of some Christians who had become “dull of hearing”. They had not grown from infancy to maturity in Christ. The writer of Hebrews chastised them for still needing milk when they should have by that time graduated to solid food. He exhorted them to become mature by training their senses to discern good and evil. In other words, he told them to get to the business of assembling their spiritual houses in accordance with God’s word.
In 2 Tim. 2:15 Paul commands, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” The Lord expects us to be mature and to accurately handle His word. To accomplish this goal we must acknowledge that “some assembly is required.”