So, let’s start another lesson on angels and demons—waitaminute!!!! That’s right, we’re actually doing a study on a book of the Bible. What was it again? That’s right! We were going through the book of Acts! We actually have a book in the Bible that we’re going through!
So, returning to Acts, we pick up where Paul and his company left Thessalonica and arrived in a town called Berea. Paul had to depart Thessalonica in a hurry, as there were violent crowds who were gunning for him.
He came to Berea, and what a difference it was! It looks like he got a much more pleasant and positive reaction here than he did in the last town. Our Shepherd knows exactly what we need at any given moment, and he gives us just the right amount of hardship and (relatively) easy success. Paul wasn’t exactly on vacation, but he certainly had a easier time here.
Today I’d like to focus on Luke’s description of the Bereans. Of course we have to be careful in interpreting narratives: Most of the time they tell us what happened, not what should've happened. But here we have an inspired commentary on these people, and the author has a pretty high compliment for them, actually two.
First, they received Paul’s message with eagerness. They apparently had a good first impression of the apostle. They could tell right away that he wasn’t some type of religious huckster or con man. He was obviously teaching them out of the Hebrew Scriptures, and wasn’t adding anything that sounded “kooky” right off the bat.
Second—and this was even more important—they checked out what Paul was saying against what the Scripture said. He wasn't preaching something alien or foreign to what Moses and the prophets had said. From Moses to Malachi, men of God had been promising that the Lord would send his Chosen One to redeem and save us. They might have read in the prophets how the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, and that he'd be born of a virgin. They could read how the Messiah would be a descendant of David and would perform miracles. Most importantly, they might have read places like Isaiah 53 which lay out in black and white the terrible price the Messiah would pay in order to fulfill God’s plan to save us.
And lo and behold, they found out from Paul that they didn’t have to wait any more! The Messiah had come, and his name was Yeshua (Jesus).
I love the Bereans. They had juuuuuuuust the right amount of skepticism. As you might know, there were plenty of religious con men out there. They intently listened to what Paul was teaching, and their reaction was “That sounds good and right. But before we commit to this message about Jesus, let’s check for ourselves what God’s word has to say.”
And of course there still are plenty of con artists today. My friend, you've got to get to know your Bible. Maybe you’re a new Christian and haven’t had much of a chance to read the Scriptures all the way through yet. Find a plan, and get on it. January is fast approaching, and you're welcome to use any of the plans I have on the right side of the blog page. If you don’t want to be taken in, then knowing God’s word is not an optional thing.
And please notice that the process of checking out the teacher--at least in this passage—never stopped: They “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” When Paul said something, they checked it out. I’d like to think that even after they believed in Jesus, they still examined the Scriptures and continued to test whatever some teacher was spouting.
There’s a famous saying in journalism: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” It seems to me that this is a great principle concerning any Bible teaching that crosses your path. My friend, it’s your responsibility to check whatever your pastor says, whatever your church leader says, and whatever your small-group leader says against what God’s word says. And of course that includes your humble Blog poster.
Lord Jesus, please may my words lead others to study your word. To the degree they do that, I’ve succeeded. To the degree they don’t, not so much. Please use me to point them to your truth.
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