What Berean Christians Do: Acts Series #30
Do you know what to do with your Bible? When we read the Bible, we discover how precious the Bible is.
“Though its cover is worn,
and its pages are torn,
and though places bear traces of tears,
yet more precious than gold is this book, worn and old,
that can shatter and scatter our fears.”
“When I prayerfully look
In the precious old book,
Many treasures and pleasures I see;
Many tokens of love
From the Father above
Who is nearest and dearest to me.”
There is a treasure in your Bible; I hope you will not miss it.
We are told what to do with the Bible in Paul’s experience in the city of Berea. You recall in the opening verses of Acts chapter 17, he has been in the capital city of Thessalonica, known as Salonika, today. From Thessalonica, they journeyed southwest, about 50 miles, to a place called Berea.
Thessalonica was on the main thoroughfare. It was a highway city. Berea, on the other hand, was kind of out-of-the way. It was a byway city. It’s built on the side of a mountain, kind of nestled away from the hustle and bustle of activity in Turkey.
I don’t know about you, but there are those times, those seasons in life, when I need a byway experience. I need to find a rest stop on the interstate of life. Jesus said one time, “Come ye apart and rest a little while.” One of my favorite preachers of another day, Vance Havner, used to say, Jesus said, “Come apart and rest awhile” and if you don’t come apart, you may indeed come apart.” The Psalmist says, “He restores my soul, by the gentle green pastures and by the still waters.” There are times we need to get aside for a little while and the Lord restores our soul and replenishes our spiritual reserves.
So, Paul came to the city of Berea. In that city, we learn what to do with our Bible. In fact, you will notice the contrast between his ministry in Thessalonica and his ministry in Berea. In Thessalonica, you will see what my responsibility is in terms of preaching the Word. We have learned that “Paul reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must have suffered and risen again…” to reason from the Scriptures and open it and explain it, so you will understand it.
Now, the Berean ministry, by contrast, shows what your responsibility is toward your Bible when you come to the church service. In Acts 17:11, we read, “They received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” This verse tells us what we are to do with our Bible.
I. We Should Receive The Word Of God
In my Bible, I have circled a couple of words. I would encourage you to do the same. The first word I want you to circle is the word, “receive.” It says, “they received the word with all readiness of mind.” First of all, we are to receive our Bible. What do I mean by receiving your Bible? The word “receive” is an interesting word because it is the second of two words that are used in the Bible which are translated as “receive.”
In I Thessalonians 2:13, we read, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing because when you received the Word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men.” Paul is saying—I’m thankful because when you received the word, you received it. That’s actually an English translation of 2 different words in the original language. The first of those words is this—when you receive the word. The word “receive,” used there, means the physical act of hearing sound. It means that you hear with your ears a sound that comes from the voice of another person.
The second word where it says you “received” has a different meaning. That word means to not only hear it with your ears, but it means to welcome or to embrace or to make it your own. The first word means to receive the sound waves with your head. The second word means to receive the message you have heard with your head, with your heart. We have it not only in our head, but also, we have it in our heart. The Bible tells us what we ought to do with our Bible— receive the Word of God with your heart. Welcome it. Embrace it. Make it your own.
Paul is saying that this book, the Bible, is not the mere words of men. We know that men were used of the Holy Spirit to write down what we have in our Bible. But beyond the writings of human authors in this book, the Bible tells us this is not the mere word of men. This is the Word of God. When we come to hear the Word of God preached, or when you study the Word in your own personal study, you are not listening or reading merely the words of men, you are hearing the Word of God.
The Bible is the Word of the Living God. Do you welcome it? Do you embrace it? Do you believe it? It is very important what you do with the Scriptures. You are to receive it with faith. You are to receive it believingly. It is beyond question in my own mind and heart that the Bible indeed is more than the words of men, it is the Word of God.
How long do you think folks would come to church if a pastor announced for the next six months, in the Sunday morning services, that he or she would be lecturing on the writings of Shakespeare? How many weeks do you think the pastor would get a hearing? Yet, it’s an amazing thing I have been ministering the Word of God for decades and people have come week after week to hear the Word of God. This is one of the evidences which convinces me that the Bible indeed is not the word of men, it is the Word of the Living God. There’s a freshness about it.
Also, there is something timeless about this Bible. When I preach from the Word of God, it has been preached for 2000 consecutive years and people have come to listen to it for over 2000 years. I’m preaching the same book that has been preached for centuries, now, and it is just as relevant and just as timeless today as the day it was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.
If the Bible is going to do us any good, we have to receive it that way. In Hebrews 4:12, it says, we read, “The Word of God preached did not profit them, not mixed with faith in them that heard it.” So, if by faith, you will believe the Bible and trust the Bible, God will do something in your life.
The same word, receive, that means to embrace or to welcome is found again in James 1;21. We read, “Wherefore, lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness and receive (welcome, embrace) with meekness, the implanted, engrafted word which is able to save your souls.” Not only are we to receive the Bible believingly, but we are also to receive it with a teachable heart. That is what the word meekness means. It means we are to be willing to be taught by the Bible. Are you willing to receive the Bible as it is?
We are to receive the Bible with a teachable spirit; be responsive to what God has to say in the Word. However, we are to go a step further. In Acts 17:11, we also read, “with all readiness of mind.” The word means they received it eagerly. It carries the idea of rushing toward something. It means when the Word was preached, and they rushed toward it.
When you come to God’s house, you must be willing to receive with an alert mind. You have to use your mind to study the Scriptures. One of the tragedies to me of modern preaching is that much of it has been “dumbed down.” Of course, we should be clear in the Scriptures. We must try to put it on the lower shelf so the rabbits can get it. If the rabbits can get it, the giraffes can get it as well. I try to make it as simple as I possibly can, to make it clear, but not at the expense of content.
You do not “dumb down” the message of the Bible to make it so simple that you avoid the content of the Bible. My job is to preach it. Your job is to listen to it with an alert mind. If you think you can come to church, put your mind in neutral, and idle through the service, you aren’t going to get it that way. You have to think. This is the Word of God. It’s not some comic book. It’s not a third-grade reader. This is the Word of the eternal God. You’ll have to put your best mind to the study of the Scriptures. Anticipation creates inspiration. A congregation can make or break the preacher sometimes.
In I Thessalonians 2:13 Paul used that word, “received as the Word of God which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” He is saying that when you receive this Word of God, by faith, the Bible says that this Word will begin to powerfully work on the inside of those who believe. This Bible turns on the searchlight in our souls. This Bible shows us what we are. This Bible shows us our sins. It convicts us and makes us feel uncomfortable. The Bible not only comforts the afflicted, but it afflicts the comfortable. The Word of God brings conviction in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Additionally, there is power to convert the soul in this book. When people come to church and receive the Word of God, they can walk out as a new creature in Christ. The Word has power to convert the soul. The Bible says “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”
Not only will it convert the soul, but this Word of God will cleanse life. The Bible is compared to water that washes and cleanses. In Psalm 119:9, we read, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way, by taking heed thereto according to the Word.” The words of Jesus in John 15:3, state: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.” In Ephesians 5;26, we learn, “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.”
Last, the Word of God can comfort the heart. How many times have you walked into the house of God with a hurting heart? You have sorrow, or a tragedy, or suffering in your life. We read in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” It’s good to know there’s hope in Christ. There’s hope in the Lord. There’s hope in the eternal promises of God.
II. We Should Research The Word Of God
Now, the first thing we ought to do with our Bible—receive it. Here’s the second thing we ought to do with your Bible. Circle this second word in verse 11. It’s the word “search” the Scriptures.
They received the Word and then the Bible says they searched the Scriptures. In other words, they researched the Bible. We are to research our Bible. It says, “They were more noble than those in Thessalonica because they received the Word and searched the Scriptures daily.”
These Bereans would listen to Paul preach and then they would go back home and pore over the Scrolls of Scripture. They would check Paul out to see if what he said was consistent with the Scriptures. Just because a man is in a pulpit or on television and has a Bible in his hand—that doesn’t mean he’s giving you the true Word of God. Go home and check him out. Find out for yourself. You are a priest, according to the Scriptures. You have the right to search the Scriptures yourself. We ought to research the Scriptures, every day, daily, and find out for ourselves. God can give you an understanding. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. degree to be able to understand the Bible. God can give an understanding to someone with limited education.
There’s such ignorance of the Bible. A group of Yale students were asked some time ago who Goliath and David were. Here is what they said. “Goliath was a giant who slew the Apostle David.” Can you imagine? Nobody can claim to be a fairly intelligent, knowledgeable, educated person unless they have some working knowledge of the Bible. The Bible feeds you.
I enjoy reading articles and books regarding health and the body. All of God’s animals on the earth have different eating habits. There are some birds that can go 10 days without a meal. There are some dogs that can go 50 days without a meal. Some turtles can go 500 days without a meal. Some fish can go 1000 days without a meal. I think I know some bird Christians. I think I know some dog Christians. I think I may even know some turtle Christians. I think, maybe, I know some fish Christians. They go days and days and days without a good meal from the Scriptures. We ought to research this Word daily.
We ought to research this word diligently. You have to put your mind to the Scriptures. You have to dig for the special treasures that are there.
You have to search the Scriptures discerningly. It says, “whether these things were so.” Search your Bible. Research your Bible and it will tell you about God. It will tell you about a God who loves you. A God who wants to save you. A God who wants to take you to heaven. Research your Bible. it’ll tell you about heaven and hell. It’ll tell you about the thrilling prospect of heaven. It’ll tell you about the frightening prospect of hell. Don’t fail to get the warning in the Bible about hell.
Artemideorus was a great lover of Julius Caesar. He recognized Caesar was in danger of his life and wrote him a letter of warning, but Caesar didn’t read it. Sometime later, with 23 wounds in his body from the assassin’s daggers, Caesar slumped against Pompey’s statue and muffled his face in his own mantle. He died because he never bothered to read the warning.
The Bible will give you the simple plan of salvation. It’ll give you the message of Christ who is the theme of the Bible. Jesus said in John 5:39,” Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” The theme of the Bible is Jesus. You’ll find all you need in Jesus. Receive, read, and research the Bible and it’ll introduce you to the Lord Jesus Christ.