TEXT: Acts 17:10-12
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
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.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
The Problem of the Ignorant Believer, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #51)
I trust that over the past week, you have taken some steps to increase your Biblical knowledge. I hope that you have adopted the spirit of the believers at Ephesus as described in the book of Acts rather than the spirit of the young man named Ignorance in the book, Pilgrim’s Progress. As you will recall, Ignorance was proud, arrogant, did not have a healthy respect for the Word of God, and refused to at least consider new knowledge regarding the Christian life when it was offered to Him. In contrast, the Christians at Ephesus were humble, honest about their ignorance, and they eagerly accepted the opportunity to grow in the faith through the receiving of new knowledge.
However, a word of caution must be issued to believers today. While all of us ought to want to grow in the faith and know more about the ways of God, we must be careful how we go about gaining that knowledge. Every preacher who comes on TV or the radio is not necessarily a good source of Biblical knowledge. Every bestselling “Christian” book is not a good source of Biblical knowledge. We must be wise in how we grow in the knowledge of God.
In our passage for today, we find a group of believers who grow the right way. They had a similar spirit as the believers in Ephesus. The Bible says that Paul and Silas came to the city of Berea and preached the Gospel to the Jews in the synagogue. We read that these Jews “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.” Their actions are an example for us today.
The Jews of Thessalonica had grown angry at the preaching of the Gospel. Instead of giving Paul and Silas a fair hearing, they incited a mob against the apostles and drove them out of the city. However, the Bereans allowed Paul and Silas to speak openly of the message of Christ — and then they went and “searched the Scriptures” to see if what these apostles preached was actually true. You might recall that Jesus once told some unbelieving Jewish religious leaders to “search the Scriptures” and they would find that the Scriptures testified of Him. Now, the Scriptures these Bereans searched were what we call the Old Testament. They went back to David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and other Old Testament prophets to see if Jesus Christ had really fulfilled the prophecies regarding the Messiah.
David Guzik said, “The Bereans heard the teaching of the most famous apostle and theologian of the early church, and the human author of at least 13 New Testament books. Yet, they searched the Scriptures when Paul taught, to see if his teaching was truly Biblical. They would not accept Paul’s teaching without checking for themselves. When the Bereans heard Paul teach, their settled reaction wasn’t ‘My, isn’t he a fine speaker.’ Instead, the Bereans wanted to know, ‘Are these things so? Does this man teach the truth?'”
That ought to be our reaction when we listen to a preacher or teacher. We ought to immediately turn our eyes to the Word of God and see if what is being preached is lining up with Scripture.
First, we must have a receptive heart to the Word of God. The Bereans “received the word with all readiness of mind.” They were eager to discover what God’s Word had in store for them. When you are studying the Bible, the openness of your heart is just as important — if not more important than — the openness of your mind. You can have the most scholarly and intelligent mind on Earth, but if you do not have a heart that is receptive to the Word of God, Scripture will be of no benefit to you. You will not learn or grow from it. You will fill your mind with knowledge, but that knowledge will have no effect on your life.
Second, we must be diligent in our searching of Scripture. The Bible is a deep book that requires persistent study and the illumination of the Holy Spirit to fully understand. We are told that the Bereans “searched the Scriptures daily.” They did not just scan through the Scriptures or pick out a few of their favorite verses. They returned to the Scriptures day after day, committed to plumbing the depths of the Word of God. They compared one Scripture with another; they compared the prophecies of the Bible with the life of Christ; they compared what they knew to be true from the Bible with what they had been told by Paul and Silas. Do not think that only a preacher or someone who has been to seminary is qualified to study and interpret the Word of God. With an open heart, an open mind, the right tools, and the Holy Spirit as your guide, you can learn and grow from the study of Word of God.
Third, we must search the Scriptures with a purpose. The Bereans searched to “see whether these things [that Paul preached] were so.” We ought not to read the Bible as we would read our favorite novel (although much of what is written in the Bible reads like a good novel). The Bible is a book of action and instruction. The Bible is not a devotional which we read a portion of each morning and think we have done our duty. We ought to read with a purpose: to know God better, to learn His ways better, and to receive guidance for what we should believe and practice. Or, in the case of the Bereans, to see if a teacher’s words line up with God’s words. Only when we read the Bible with a purpose will we gain everything there is to gain from Scripture.
Finally, we must take action on what we have learned. Proof of our learning from Scripture is what we do with what we have learned. Notice what happened with the Bereans as they searched the Scriptures: “Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” Once the Bereans found that what Paul had told them was true, many of them — Jews and Gentiles — believed on Jesus Christ. They did not just sit on their knowledge; they acted on it. That is what God expects from each of us today. The more we know, the more we are obligated to do.
Christians do not have to be ignorant. Each of us has at our disposal the key to having a knowledgeable, intelligent faith. That key is the Word of God coupled with the insight and illumination of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for open minds and open hearts so that God can speak to us through His word, so that we can grow in our knowledge of Him, and so that we can more effectively live a more intelligent Christian life.
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.