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The Bible and Bereans


The Bible and the Bereans

Acts 17:10-15 

Berea was well off the ‘beaten track’ – described by Cicero as an ‘out of the way town.’  Best place for Paul and Silas at least until the hue and cry at Thessalonica had died down a bit.  God meant it all for good, for at Berea, precious souls were saved.  So Paul and Silas are at Berea…

Be a Berean! Study the Word of God

1. The Bereans and the Bible.

The Berean Christians are famous for the fact that when Paul preached, they searched the scriptures to find out whether the matters that he was teaching were actually in accordance with what is clearly taught in the Scriptures.  Perhaps this is why:-  11 ‘These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica.‘    We are often told that we too should be like the Bereans, that we should not take for granted that what a preacher in church is saying, but that we should go over his sermons, look up all the references and check everything out.  So how do we do that in a society where Bible knowledge generally is at a very low ebb in society, and, I think, in large sections of the visible church.  Do we not need to copy the preaching methods of the early church? Of Paul himself?  Perhaps:-

  • A simple approach to teaching.  Plain and simple preaching that a child could understand?  You see the purpose of preaching is to open up the word of God to the hearer, not to entertain or amuse, or make the preacher look clever or erudite or important.  It ought t be as simple in its presentation as possible.  Everyone should be able to follow and to understand.  
  • A textually focussed approach.    We formulate doctrine and our creed OUT of the Bible, not reading them INTO the bible.  Paul preached thoroughly and systematically through the scriptures.  Look at how he did so at Thessalonica.  
  • A more didactic approach.  With teaching content that YOU can check out.  It’s a PREACHER’S JOB to make it easy for YOU to CHECK WHAT THAT PREACHER IS TEACHING IN THE PULPIT.   
  • An approach that cuts through cultural bias.  We should teach Christians basic HERMENEUTICS! So we not only preach to them, but we teach them HOW TO UNDERSTAND the Bible for themselves.  We teach them simple principles of biblical interpretation, like comparing scripture with scripture, cross-referencing, looking for context, learning about book genres.  Helping modern believers to be ‘noble-minded.’

We see examples of all of that in Paul’s teaching ministry, and we see its reward at Berea.  Let’s see the effects and results of Bible centred preaching.

2. Some Textual Observations about Biblical Preaching and Teaching.

What can we learn about the effects of Paul’s teaching ministry at Berea?  

  1. Bible-Centred Preaching Always Stirs the Affections of the Elect. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  They received the word with ‘readiness of mind.’  R Kent Hughes in ‘The Church Afire’ renders this as ‘with all eagerness.’  It carries with it a sense of urgency, for they could not wait to hear and understand and receive the message of the word.  Hughes reminds us of George Muller, man of great faith, who read his Bible over 200 times, and faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.  He read the word!  He heard God speaking, in the Word of God.  Consider the effectiveness of Biblical preaching:-
  • Such preaching is often winsome.  in that they received the word with all readiness When the word declared falls unto ground that the Lord has prepared for it, there is a winsomeness, a sweetness to it, it is desirable.   Psalm 19:10   
  • Such preaching drives the hearer to the book.  and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were soPreaching is not an end in itself.  It should always drive the hearer deeper into the Word of God.  This was their daily activity. 
  • Such preaching leads to conviction.  12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. The Holy Spirit applies the word of God, and convicts the soul of sin, and that leads to repentance and forgiveness.

b)  Bible-Centred Preaching Stirs the Anger of the Godless.  We live in an age of outrage. That was always the case, only nowadays there’s more opportunities to express that ungodly outrage.  

  • They hate the Word of God. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea,   
  • They devise wickedness to silence the voice of God in the scriptures.  they came there also and stirred up the crowds

c) Bible-Centred Preaching Speeds the Advancement of the Gospel.

  • Paul is sent away alone. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. 
  • The Gospel comes to Athens.  15 So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.  Have you noticed that every time Paul is expelled from a city he simply goes somewhere else and begins to preach and witness in a new location.  He is never deterred.  He is literally fulfilling the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 10:23  The disciples don’t just flee to another city for safety, they hasten to another MISSION FIELD, to tell more sinners about the saviour.  And they began the work right away by going to the Jewish synagogue.  

So Paul has come to a backwater town, and found an opening for the Gospel, and people who were willing to study the scriptures to be sure that what they were hearing was true.  It was!  Paul was preaching Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, and more people were added to Christ’s church, and the gospel spread ever further.

© BobMcEvoy February 2021

From → Acts

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