The Bereans and You

Posted on 08/21/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

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I have a reason to rejoice
I have a reason to clap my hands
I have a reason to lift my voice
and sing praises to the great I Am

I have a reason to move my feet
and take the Gospel into the street
I have a reason to lose my will
and let Jesus take full control

For you have set me feet to dancin'
You have filled my heart with joy
You have freed me from my passions
and filled me with the Holy Ghost

You have set my heart on fire
Fill my soul with your desire and
Melt me Lord 'til only you remain!


Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth

For God is great
and greatly to be praised
God is great
and greatly to be praised


For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou are exalted
far above all gods

And I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee O Lord

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Have you ever heard the statement, "Be a good Berean"? I always assumed everyone who had been a Christian for any length of time had definitely heard of the Bereans, but recently that assumption failed. So today, I'd like for us to spend the next few minutes talking about the Bereans and what makes them an example we should all follow; I'd also like to compare the Bereans with those in Thessalonica, as we ponder which ones more closely reflect ourselves.

Let's turn to the seventeenth chapter of Acts.

Acts 17:1-5, 10-13 (NKJV)

1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
3 explaining and demonstrating that the Messiah had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Messiah."
4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.

10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.

So Paul and Silas were spreading the Good News that the Messiah had come, and that we can be forgiven and reconciled to God through Him. This passage says that it was Paul's custom to go into the temple and explain the Scriptures concerning the Messiah, showing how Jesus fulfilled those Scriptures.

This chapter starts out with Paul and Silas in Thessalonica. A large number of the Greeks and leading women believed. But the Jews, for the most part, were not persuaded, and they stirred up a mob and were trying to get Paul and Silas in trouble, perhaps even killed.

Then we move over to Berea, and we see a very different group of Jews. Verse 11 says that these were "more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."

Over in Thessalonica, there is no mention of their searching the Scriptures even once, while in Berea, they searched the Scriptures DAILY to find out whether what Paul was saying was true.

In Thessalonica, they put the burden of proof on Paul. In Berea, they put the burden of proof on themselves.

One thing that is worth our noting is that, at that time, they didn't have concordances. And they didn't have Google. All they had was a bunch of scrolls. And most of them worked for a living. It's not as though they were just sitting around all day with nothing better to do.

They had one day off per week, not two like most of us. And they were very likely to work 60 or more hours per week, not 40 or 32 like the average worker today. And yet, all too often, we don't even take a few seconds to do a search on Google or a free, online Bible search, to find out if what we're hearing agrees with Scripture. Instead, we rely on our feelings, or our perceived quality of the presentation. And all too often, if someone presents something in a convincing manner, and if it "feels" right to us, then we simply accept it as true.

In the same way, if something goes against what we've always believed or what we've always heard, we reject it without doing an honest, open-minded search of the Scriptures.

Most of us are like those in Thessalonica who either accepted or rejected what they heard without searching the Scriptures even once. It's no wonder unbiblical doctrines abound in the Church today.

Now this isn't an indictment; rather, it's an encouragement and a challenge to break free from that irresponsibly lazy place that tries to pull every single one of us under. I mean, it's SO easy to just listen to what a preacher or teacher says, and to judge its truth by what we remember hearing in the Bible in the past, or even by what we remember from other people's teachings in the past. And it takes time and effort to research the issue ourselves, and to open our minds to what the word of God really says about the subject.

But if we are to be "fair-minded" like the Bereans, and if we are to therefore really know the truth, we must "diligently study to show (ourselves) approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, correctly understanding and teaching the Word of Truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 KMV)

Here are just a few examples of popular Christian beliefs which would fall apart if we would just be good Bereans:

- Satan can't read your mind.
- Drinking alcohol is a sin.
- Worship always involves singing.
- Everyone has a guardian angel.
- Everyone is a child of God.

Someone from Thessalonica would hear a preacher say, "Satan can't read your mind!" and they might yell, "Amen!" and go repeat those words as fact to others. "Well, of course Satan can't read your mind! It just makes sense!"

But then those same people, when they run into or hear about a person who can read minds, say it's the devil. The devil can't read minds, but if someone can read minds, it's the devil.

Of course, that's beside the point. We're talking about searching the Scriptures, not just thinking things through; but if you don't think through your own contraditory thoughts, you're much less likely to recognize when you're misunderstanding Scripture because you haven't put all the pieces together.

On the other hand, someone from Berea would hear a preacher say, "If your pastor showed up at the door unexpectedly and wanted to come look in your refrigerator, would you leave him waiting outside until you went and hid your beer?" and the Berean would search the Scriptures to see if the idea that drinking beer is a sin is in the Bible. And, of course, he or she wouldn't find any mention of alcohol in the Bible except for in the positive -- such as Jesus' turning the water into wine -- or in the negative in the context of drinking too much. He or she would have to reject what the preacher said as untrue, because he or she took the time to search the Scriptures with an open mind to see if what they heard was true.

That Berean would hear that satan can't read your mind, and would search the Scriptures to see if that's true. And they would come away from their search realizing that statement is just a nice-sounding assumption.

The same goes for the idea that everyone has a guardian angel; and the idea that everyone is a child of God, they would reject as absolutely false, since it contradicts what the Bible says.

You see, the Thessalonican believes in myths and misses many life-changing truths because they're too lazy to open the Scriptures; while the Berean is on safe, solid ground, because, while they have spirits that are open to hearing what is being said, they search the Scriptures before they accept any teaching as true.

And the question I'd like for us to ask ourselves today is this: "Am I like those from Thessalonica, or am I a Berean?" And perhaps an even more important question is this: "What will I do from this point on? Will I believe what I feel is right and what sounds good to me or what I've always been taught is true, or will I search the Scriptures daily to see if the things I hear, and even the things I already believe, are true?"

And then, we must have courage. It takes courage to reject something you've always believed. It takes courage to see past your existing beliefs and recognize that the Bible really doesn't say that after all. It takes courage to accept things that will require you to change your life, to get out of your comfort zone, and to do things you really don't want to do, or NOT do things you really don't want to stop doing.

But courage is vital. It is imperative. And you cannot grow without it. As it says in Joshua 1:9 (NAS), "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

The Lord your God is with you, and as you take a step toward Him, He will give you the strength you need to finish your journey. You won't get that strength sitting at home watching TV. You'll get the strength you need as you start taking steps in the right direction. You need to DO something. If you just sit around waiting for someone else to do it for you, don't expect much good in your life to get done.

Be a good Berean. Search the Scriptures daily so that everything you believe is challenged, and so you can discard superstition and false beliefs, and so you can embrace the truth instead. And be strong and courageous; be ready and willing to throw your sacred cows on the barbeque, and to let the truth set you free.

Let's go ahead and end today's service with a time of prayer and ministry, and let's dedicate ourselves to being like the Bereans, as we reject the natural desire to judge truth by our feelings and our beliefs, and instead search the Scriptures daily.

You're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front. If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message Mariposa or me.

Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed; and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way to the Fellowship Room to your left for a time of fellowship.

Come. And let us dedicate ourselves to being, from this day forward, like a Berean, rightly discerning the word of Truth.