Bethel just began and so did our fall planning. These are great opportunities to study the Bible. So, let me ask you, do you study the Bible? I am not talking about simply reading the Bible, but studying the Bible? Do you study the Bible? Do you read the Bible? I hope many of you do and I hope the Holy Spirit is impressing on you the need to study the Bible as well. Okay, everyone pick up a Bible, hold it. This book tells you how to attain eternal life. This book gives you wisdom for life.
So, you are going on a trip, you choose the destination, wherever you want.
Where would you go? Shout out some places, just shout them out… Wait for some comments.
Okay, how are you going to get there?
What will you do once you do get there?
Do you think you may check out AAA or something? What if they don’t have food there, or indoor plumbing or gas stations, or Steelers on television? You do want to find out about a place before you go there, correct?
Why don’t we do that with our eternal life? We are going there, we are going to spend eternity there, don’t you want to invest as much in eternity, or hopefully more, than you would on a vacation? Don’t we want to study about Heaven? The Bible has lots to say about Heaven. Don’t we want to get to know God better and Jesus, He gave us eternal life.
The music director at my last church shared with me how every morning she would see her father studying the Bible. He would have his commentary out, his Bible dictionary out and his study Bible. He would study the Bible prior to his job at the factory. Get this, he got up at something like 4:30 am to study the Bible.
He must have been like the Bereans.
In Acts 17:10-15 Paul comes to Berea and presents the Gospel. These people searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul shared was true. Many were saved. Let’s study that passage and I challenge you to be like a Berean.
The great idea today is that the Bereans were studiers, learners, they were not ignorant, I pray that we will be as well.
Read Act 17:10-15
As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
- Let me start with the context.
- Paul is chased from Thessalonica to Berea and in verse 10 he arrives in Berea. This is Paul’s second escape by night. In Acts 9:25 Paul had to escape by night as well.
- I wonder what that was like for Paul? I wonder what it was like for the early Christians? What was it like to flee from one place under threat of death? Are you out much after dark? I like to run after dark because of the peacefulness of the night. I like to look at the stars and see God’s beauty. But sometimes I’ll go down a street and something will scare me. I’ll see an animal or hear something. For Paul there was not time for noticing the beauty of creation. He traveled at night because of threat. There was much danger traveling during that time period and especially after dark. I once read a book called Night in Times Past. The book was about the great fear and dangers at night prior to electric lighting. Paul did a lot of traveling and faced a lot of dangers. This case is no different. Paul and Silas traveled 50 miles southwest from their last location. Can you imagine that, 50 miles? By the way, Berea is on the side of a mountain, this was not easy traveling.
- Paul arrives in Berea and goes to the synagogue to start preaching. That has been his modus operandi. Verse 11 says that the Bereans were more noble than the people of Thessalonica. The Bereans examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul was teaching was true.
- Verse 11 is a contrast with the people in Thessalonica. The people of Thessalonica chased Paul out.
- → a lot of times we hold up the Bereans as a standard and probably right to do so. But the reality is that they were more noble than where Paul had just come from.
- → A contemporary example: The people of Pittsburgh were more pleasant that Cleveland. That may not mean the people in Pittsburgh were pleasant, but more than Cleveland.
- However, I think we can make a rightful example that the Bereans were noble. That means they were of better birth or they were open minded. That means they were ready to learn.
- The Bible says that they find out that what Paul said was true.
- You know what, they were going to the Old Testament to confirm this. Do you realize that the Old Testament has enough information to confirm who Jesus is?
- Many were saved. Jewish people were saved. Greek men and women were saved.
- Then the people from Thessalonica come to Berea and stir up a riot chasing Paul out. Now, Paul goes to Athens.
- Let me encourage you to be like the Bereans.
- The Bereans did study the Scriptures.
- Turn to Psalms 119:9-11:
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
- You see the Scriptures are our guard for purity, for doctrine and in every way.
- There is so much wisdom in the Bible.
- Watch this video clip of the Bible and its’ importance. : http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/175859-francis-chan-why-we-need-the-bible.html
- Where do you get your wisdom? Where are we receiving our wisdom? You see everywhere we go we have messages being fed to us. Where is the wisdom though?
- The wisdom is in the Bible. More than that, as the Bereans discovered, eternal life is in the Bible. You see Paul came declaring this Truth that they had not been taught and they did not know what to think of it. So what did they do? Did they turn on Home Shopping Channel to see what to think? Did they turn on ESPN to see what to think? Did they go to CNN or FOX News or the Newspaper to see what to think? No, they went to the Bible.
- Okay, so two applications: The Bible is eternal life and the Bible is wisdom to shape our worldview.
- You see first you must know Jesus for eternal life. Without Jesus you are disconnected from God and all eternity. You need eternity. Search the Scriptures, they are all about ways to freely receive eternal life.
- Once you know Jesus, you get fed True, Heavenly, Spirit-filled wisdom from the Bible.
- This shapes our worldview. Read Isaiah 55:9-11:
gFor my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,h declares the Lord.
gAs the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
- As you see from that passage in Isaiah 55: God’s Word feeds us.
- You see Christians, we get our wisdom from God and from His Word. Everyone views the world a certain way. We call this a worldview.
- Our worldview is a lot of times under the surface, we do not think about it, but it is there. We view the world a certain way. Once we come to know Jesus as Savior, as we are discipled, God reshapes that worldview to fit with His Kingdom, as opposed to the fallen world. As Christians we think worldviewishly based off of the Bible, not based off of what culture tells us. So, when we think about abortion, human rights, euthanasia, war, even recycling, murder, peace and any news event going on, we must think: “What does the Bible have to say about this?” That is what I see the Bereans doing in this passage. They go to the Scriptures.
A woman was driving home one night. The weather was really nasty. Rain was coming down in buckets and visibility was very poor. Seeing taillights ahead of her, she followed the car in front. Not being able to see, the car in front seemed to be going in the right direction. So she stuck with it. All of a sudden the car in front of her came to a stop. She began to wonder what had happened; perhaps the car in front had hit a deer or some thing like that. She began to feel uncomfortable; thinking being stopped in the middle of the road can often lead to accidents. Much to her alarm the car in front of her turned off their lights. Her concern was now growing as well as her anger, and she was then startled by a knocking on her window. She looked up and there was a man standing in the pouring rain wanting to speak to her. She cracked the window open and asked the man what the problem was. The man replied by stating that that was the question he was going to ask her. She retorted that she wasn稚 the one who had stopped in the middle of the road and then turned off the car lights. The man痴 reply was that they were not in the middle of the road, but in his driveway Obviously, this woman had chosen the wrong leader to follow. She had chosen a leader who would not take her to where she wanted and needed to go. She had chosen the wrong leader and the wrong road.
We follow information, we follow Truth, what is your source?
- Something else I notice with the Bereans is that they were learners. They studied. I talk to a lot of Christians and people and we are simply, willfully ignorant. We say that we are bad readers so we do not work on it. Or we don’t want to read, or like reading, so we just don’t. What a gift it is to be able to read. What a gift it is to be able to read the Bible and hold in our hands the wisdom of the ages. So many people are not blessed with this ability. My encouragement is that we all work on this, work on being learners as the Bereans were. Work on being studiers as the Bereans were.
Last year, I heard about a book, which I read part of, The Smartest Kids in the World and How they Got that Way. Part of the studies showed that children that rank highest in the world on test scores see their parents reading at home.
So, the Music director at my last church remembered her father studying the Bible every morning, early in the morning. You know what I see in that? I see a Berean Christian. But I see that he was not only studying, making an impact for himself and his relationship with Jesus. He was also modeling being a learner to his children. He modeled the Spiritual disciplines to his children.
WHAT ARE YOU FEEDING ON?
I really enjoy visiting Yellowstone. In fact, one of these days, when Jesus comes back, I’ve got dubs on Yellowstone! Come and visit me for a while!
Once when I was visiting the greatest national park in America, I heard a story about bears that was amazing. In the 1950’s and 60’s, tourists could drive right up to a bear, roll down their window and feed their McDonald’s hamburger to the hungry animal. He would gladly take the burger along with the hand of the tourist! The bears were changing their feeding habits and endangering visitors.
As a result, the National Park Service removed the bears and took them to higher country where God had already provided for them a natural diet of luscious berries. However, because the bears had changed their feeding patterns, many of them refused to eat the berries and some actually died.
This story is an incredible picture of the lives of many believers in Christ. Sadly, many of us have been delivered out of spiritual Egypt and bondage to sin, but we have not been brought into the Promised Land of victory. It is interesting that God told the Israelites to eat the roasted lamb they had sacrificed (Exodus 12). The Passover lamb is a picture of the death of Christ. But feeding on the lamb is a picture of how we grow in Christ once we have been saved.
What are you feeding on in your personal life? Are you spending time alone with Christ in the Word of God? Are you allowing the junk food of this world’s values to destroy your spiritual appetite for the Word of God? Feed on the Lamb of God and don’t allow the Enemy to feed you a lie.
The challenge: Be Like the Noble Bereans, search the Scriptures, study the Scriptures. First do you know Jesus?
God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)