"A Modern-Day Berean"
The Bereans spiritually had two things going for them that we need to have in our lives: (1) They received the word of God with all eagerness; and (2) They searched the scriptures daily to make sure what they heard was God and not Paul.
Modern Day Bereans
A. I am going to give you a quick Bible trivia quiz of three questions and you can track your own score.
1. Who became king of Judah at age 8?
a) Josiah b) Amon c)Manasseh d)Hezekiah
2. According to Jude, what did the devil and Michael the archangel fight over?
a) the conversion of Saul b) the temptation of Jesus c) the mind of Judas Iscariot d) the body of Moses
3. Who was Paul’s scribe who wrote the book of Romans?
a) Lucius b) Jason c) Tertius d) Erastus
B. Some people just love Bible trivia, and others get scared to death when a question is asked in class. My freshman year in college I attend a church where the Sunday school teacher would ask a question and call on someone to give him the answer. I was always scared I wouldn’t know the answer and look like a fool.
C. It is great to know your Bible. Some of you are familiar with some of the original language, and most of us rely on English translations to help us understand God’s message to mankind. In this congregation we take the Bible seriously. Our teachers seek to impress upon our kids good Bible knowledge. Our adult class teachers seek to challenge that knowledge and help us to make it applicable to our everyday life. I am proud of our teachers.
D. I want to say right now and then sound like I am contradicting myself in just a moment. Listen to me. Great Bible knowledge will not save you. You can memorize scripture, learn trivia, quote the Sermon on the Mount, the 10 Commandments in order and still not be saved. Bible knowledge is not going to save you. My opening questions won’t save you.
E. Jesus said the Jews in John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” These people knew the Bible. They knew the scriptures. They knew what God said about the One to come, the Messiah, yet, in their study they never let it bring them to Jesus.
I. How Do You RECEIVE the Word?
A. On the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2 records that 3000 people were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and added to the church. That number continue to grow. These early Christians devoted themselves, or gave themselves over to, four key spiritual areas: The Apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer. The Apostles were seen as more than just preachers of the Old Testament. Instead they were seen as God’s instruments of the presentation of a new covenant that came through the cross.
B. What you need to understand is that Christians only had what we call the Old Testament for a number of years. In fact, most of the first century church only had a small portion of what we call the NT. For example, we think the first NT book written was Paul’s letter to the Galatians around 48 AD. That is close to 20 years after the church began on Pentecost. The first of the Gospels was probably Mark around 48 to 55 AD to a limited group of people.
C. You and I take the NT for granted with its nice collection of 27 books and letters. We dissect and harmony the four Gospels which most early Christian only had one of. Again, we are blessed with our NT, but understand how difficult it was to understand the message of the New Covenant of Jesus when what you had was God’s covenant to the Jews for the most part.
D. So we come to our text and we see Paul having been beaten and jailed in Philippi, run out of town in Thessalonica and now, we come to Berea and Luke tells us that these Jews were more “noble” than those in Thessalonica who had rejected the message of God, because what made these Jews so noble was the way they received the word and the way they examined it to find truth. These were truth seeking people, not church seeking, not self-seeking, but truth seeking. There was a desire to hear this Christian message, their ears and minds were open to receive.
E. Several times in the ministry of Jesus and again in Revelation we read “he who has ears to hear.” The idea is about how receptive a person is to hearing the message. You can’t make someone receptive. You might be a great teacher, a persuasive person, but you can for someone to receive God’s word. That is something they must choose to do.
F. Let me challenge us today to be like the Bereans. We who have been blessed with the fullness of the Gospel message in text form need to also be people who are ready to receive it in our heart and mind. When you came here this day, did you come with your heart and mind ready to receive God’s message? When you came into your Bible class, was it with the intent to receive the word of the Lord and understand how His Holy Word can transform your life?
G. When our Bible remained closed during the week, it is difficult for our minds to be open to it on Sunday. What are you doing in your life to prepare your mind to receive God’s word each time you open it, read it and study it? Study it…that brings me to my next point.
II. Do You SEARCH The Scriptures Daily?
A. Our Berean Jews not only wanted to hear about this Christian message, but they wanted to make sure what Paul said was truth. They only way they could test his message about the Messiah was by going to the Scriptures. Now remember, the only Bible they had is what we call the OT. We don’t use our OT much as a teaching tool for Christians, but listen to what Paul says in Gal. 3:21-25. The law, the OT, was given to bring us to Christ in faith. We needed and still the law to have a deep understanding of faith and the purpose of Jesus’ life and ministry.
B. The Jews in Thessalonica would not search to see if Paul interpretation of the Jewish scripture was true or not. The Bereans, on the other hand, searched it daily to see if what Paul said was true. They did not want to simply take someone’s interpretation as fact, but instead, searched and examined deeply to find out what it was that God was really saying. It is similar to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was not giving them a new law, but giving them God’s interpretation of the Law they already had. “You have heard that it was said… but I say…” It is why they saw Jesus as speaking with authority, not like one of the scribe.
C. Dig deep. The idea is that they “sifted through scripture.” They knew they could “hear God” through the scripture. The Bible was not a book. As the Hebrew writer puts it, “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword.” It doesn’t take an elder, preacher or teacher to examine truth, but an open heart.
A. I just want you to imagine your spiritual life if you were like these Bereans. I want you to think about your relationship with God. Your understanding of the ever present help of the Holy Spirit. Your connection to Jesus at the cross and through the empty tomb. Think about the contentment, peace and joy that comes by a deep relationship with the Almighty.
B. Now, make that joy complete by being a person who takes their Bible and receives God, not just learns and knows, but receives God and allows the truths you have understood to take root in your life and bring about growth in a powerful way. Make your faith a living faith by searching scripture to understand truth that brings about godly repentance that leads to life.
C. This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it. Let today be a renewal of yourself and your commitment to a relationship with God that is found in an understanding of the Bible. Listen to God’s leading, not your own heart, and follow in God’s pathway. If we can be of help in your spiritual journey, then come as we stand and sing.