Paul and Silas had just escaped from Thessalonica and travelled to the town and region of Berea. As was their habit, they continued to preach and teach the word of God to those who came and were prepared to listen, both Jews and Gentiles.
One of the things we see in their approach is that although they had been previously imprisoned in Philippi and had been threatened in Thessalonica, they did not hold back. They pushed forward and gave everything The Lord had given them to teach the people the gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the great things we see in their time at Berea is that all people and all audiences for the word are different. These people did not go on the attack, driven by jealousy, wrath or anger. They were described as being more noble than the Jews in Thessalonica and as a result they listened and discovered how to find the truth. It is a lesson we can all learn today.
Look at these few scriptures in this passage for it is a valuable insight into these people and teaches us much about how we too need to approach the word.
11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
First we see they are more noble than the Thessalonian Jews. They did not judge and ridicule nor get angry and jealous. Instead they listened to what Paul and Silas had to say. Then what did they do?
They reviewed their words and checked against what the scriptures had to say. They did not take Paul and Silas at face value. They did not blindly accept what they had to say but they checked for themselves. They opened their eyes and looked at what Paul and Silas were preaching and made sure it concurred with the words in the scriptures.
You can be sure that if Paul or Silas said anything false, the Bereans would have been onto them immediately. But it is equally clear that after checking the scriptures they believed and recognised what they were teaching was correct. They had found the truth and thus as vs 12 says, “… Many of them believed.”
Study the Word
This is a key teaching we need to understand. But before we can even go there it is important that each of us gets deep into studying the words in the scriptures. Immerse yourself in the words of god and when you need answers they will be there.
The bible is a book of answers. It provides insight into how to live a godly life, how to live a life pleasing to God and how to be transformed into the image of God so that we will be acceptable to Him and receive life with Him into eternity.
But how can we know these things unless or until we have studied the words of The Lord? And more importantly, like the Bereans, how can we see the difference between right and wrong, good and evil if we do not know what the difference is which we can only learn from the author of all that is good, God Himself.
We must study the word of God if we want to find the truth.
How to find the truth
Let me repeat that last sentence…we must study the word of God if we want to find the truth. That is, we need to immerse ourselves in the scripture and be led by the Holy Spirit.
From time to time you will hear some new teaching that we have not heard before. What should you do? Do not immediately reject what you hear, but instead put it in your “pending” file in your head until you find the answers. Remember the words of James 1:19,
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
What James is saying is this. Listen to what is being said and then weigh it up in the light of the gospel before you react, especially if what was said leads you to anger. So the process to follow is:
First and foremost pray and ask The Lord what this teaching is that you have heard. Ask for His guidance to understand if this teaching is of the truth or not.
Now, if you have immersed yourself in the scripture the next thing to do is to review what you have heard in the light of your knowledge of the word. One thing I promise you is that the truth of the gospel all holds together and works together. It is like a jigsaw puzzle…every piece of the gospel has a place and it fits perfectly when you find the right place for it.
If you still don't understand go to the person who was teaching whatever it is and ask them to clarify what they have said from the scriptures. If they start to use other books or philosophies than the word of God, bring them back to the point and ask again for clarification FROM THE SCRIPTURES. If they cannot clarify using God's word, reject the teaching. Similarly if they do use scriptures but it doesn't match what the rest of the bible says, especially if seems to twist or oppose the word, reject the teaching.
If you are still unsure, go back to first principles and continue to pray. The Lord said in Matthew 7:7-8,
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
This is a promise from The Lord that He will show you what you need to know. He also said in John 12:26,
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
He will bring His servant to you for when you seek Him He will provide the teacher you need to open your eyes to see the truth in no uncertain way. He also gives His Holy Spirit to teach, counsel and guide you into all the truth.
The truth is there to be found and The Lord wants all His people to come to a full knowledge of the truth and that can only happen if you search the scriptures diligently to find it, just as the people in Berea did when Paul and Silas preached the gospel to them. Consider also what John 5:39-40 says,
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Do not refuse to come to The Lord nor forget to seek Him in the scriptures for the scriptures bear witness to Jesus. Do you want to find Jesus? Then read the word for He IS the Word. Seek and you WILL find. That is the promise of The Lord Jesus Christ.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Julia Freeman-Woolpert)
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