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By

Jimmy Lathan


 

    Text: Acts 17: 10-12

“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable woman which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”

 

    The city of Berea in Macedonia (northern Greece) some forty-five miles west of Thessalonica, was visited by Paul and Silas on his first missionary journey. Before coming to Berea, Paul and Silas had laid the foundation of a thriving church in Thessalonica in a short time. However, do to the unbelieving Jews, persecution arose against them to such a degree that they had to leave the newly founded congregation, and came to the city of Berea. The Holy Spirit, who inspired Luke to write the book of Acts, recorded for us some key lessons we can learn from the Bereans. These lessons have to do with our attitude toward God’s word and his ministers; our discipline in the reading of God’s word; our willingness to acknowledge the truth when shown from the word of God; our willingness to be a discerning Christian, and our willingness to share the truth of God with others in order that they might be saved. So the question we need to ask ourselves is; how can I become a Berean Christian? That is: What can I glean from this account of the Bereans that clearly demonstrates the  mark a true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? There would be less deception in the church if everyone who names the name of Christ would become Berean Christians. There would be more converts to the faith if more people would examine the claims of the Holy Bible with an open heart.


 

 

Characteristics of a Berean Christian

 

I. Receive the word of God with all readiness of mind.

Readiness of mind in the Greek is prothumia that is, zeal, earnest, alacrity. If we choose to be a Berean Christian, we must approach the word of God in the correct attitude of heart. We should approach the bible with a ready mind to understand what saith the scriptures, and pray that God the Holy Spirit would grant us understanding of the word of God. In I John 2:20 it says that we have an unction, and in verse twenty-seven it says we have an anointing; these are translated from the same Greek word meaning, special endowment. Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The bereans didn’t turn Paul and Silas away, but received them and were eager to hear them concerning the gospel. We too must be eager to hear the word of God, and to put it into practice. When we come to church, we should expect to hear the word of the Lord preached. We should desire and hunger for the sincere milk of the word, and the meat of the word to grow thereby. We should always let the word of God be true, and every man (including ourselves) become the liars.

 

II. We must search the scriptures if we are to be Berean Christians.

If we choose to be a Berean Christian, we must be dedicated students of the scriptures. We must recognize that the source of the truth is the word of God and the word of God alone. And as students of the word, we must try by the word whether the things preached and taught are true. Notice how the Bereans did not except what Paul and Silas preached because they were great preachers or well-known. In St. John’s gospel chapter five verse thirty-nine we read, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” If we choose to be Berean Christians we must subject all that is taught or spoken to the authority of God’s holy word. The Berean Christian must not establish truth on what he senses on the emotional level, or on his personal opinions but strictly on the bases of the scriptures. The preacher should demand that his hearers make recourse to the word of God to make sure that what was preached, or taught was correct. Berean Christians are suspicious of any minister that discourages questions, and simply demands blind obedience. No where in the bible are we taught that we are to blindly follow anyone; this would include the minister. In Isaiah 8:20 it says, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” The faith in Christ is a rational faith, and a faith that can stand the test of intellectual scrutiny. We do not have to dump our brains and become brutes to believe the scriptures as some in the scientific world imagine. The Lord Jesus himself commanded that the scriptures be searched. This shows us that God is interested in a thoughtful consideration of the truths advanced in the scripture. Unlike that of cults and false religions, true servants of the Lord encourage the asking of questions on the part of the hearer. An unexamined faith is not worth anyone’s commitment. Truth is not afraid of being examined because truth will always prove to be the truth every time.

 

III. The word of God is for the Berean Christian, daily bread.

The passage in Acts seventeen verse eleven says that they searched the scripture daily. If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must read the word of God everyday we possibly can. Some days will naturally bring exceptions, but hopefully these are rare exceptions. The prophet Jeremiah in the fifteenth chapter verse sixteen said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of host.” If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must eat, or rather, internalize the word of God. When we take the word of God to heart, we are obedient to its commands. Psalms 119:11 says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” In Psalms chapter one, the writer speaks of the blessing of those who stand not in the counsel of the ungodly, but finds his delight in the law of the Lord, and in it, meditates day and night. “. . . It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (St. Matthew 4:4).

 

IV. A true Berean Christian is a discerning Christian.

Just as the Bereans searched the scriptures to try what was being preached of Paul and Silas, we too must have a heart of discernment; especially since these are the last days. In the book of Hebrews chapter five verse fourteen, we read, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” In the first general epistle of John we are commanded in chapter four verse one: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” This is why it is so important that we all become Berean Christians. There is great danger of being deceived and lead astray into destruction. The bible warns us that Satan transforms himself into a messenger of light, and therefore it is no marvel that his ministers appear as ministers of righteousness. Satan has ministers in the Church today who preach another jesus, another gospel, by the power of another spirit. Exercising good discernment was one of the things Jesus commended the Church of Ephesus for. They tried them that called themselves apostles, and found them to be liars. The discernment of a Berean Christian depends solely on “it is written” and not on signs, wonders, and miracles. Miracles are no sure way of discerning whether some one is of God or not.

 

V. The Berean Christian is concerned about sin.

Notice in verse twelve of our text: “Therefore many of them believed. . .” that is, they repented of their sins when they were called to salvation. If we choose to be Berean Christians, we must be concern about sin. The concern should begin with us; we need a clear revelation of ourselves. Why is it that some of us are so good at detecting the mote that is our brother’s eye, and yet we seem so oblivious to the beam in our own eye? I am convinced that this is why some people will never change; they are so blind to their own need and therefore do not see the need for change. As a Berean Christian, we must be willing to forgive others their trespasses against us or our sins will not be forgiven by God. We should be willing to forgive even if the offender asks for no forgiveness. Just because the offender refuses to acknowledge there offense doesn’t give us a scriptural right to hold bitterness, and unforgiveness against that person, especially a brother or a sister in the Lord. Who are we to think that we are right in such an attitude of heart? If the Lord God chooses not to forgive that one thing; he has never sinned and needed forgiveness, but we have all sinned against the Lord and if we have been pardoned, we really don’t have a right to hold out unforgiveness to others. This kind of attitude grieves the Holy Spirit and causes the call and purposes of God in the life to come to a grinding halt. If the offending party refuses to acknowledge their guilt in the offense, God knows how to deal with such a one as this, so don’t think that it is forgotten, or looked over by God. Remember, blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

 

VI. The Berean Christian is jealous for the word of God.

This is something that seems to be lacking in the church today. It is difficult to find those who care about what “thus saith the Lord.” It would seem that most believers are more jealous for their denominations than for the things of God. We live in a day where the holy word of God can be butchered, perverted, twisted, and completely ignored. It would seem that God’s people love to have it so. But any true Christian who desires to be a Berean Christian will contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. In the book of St. Jude verse three, we read, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (St. Jude 3). It isn’t enough for Berean Christians to give a positive presentation of the gospel; but a bold, authoritative defense for the faith. This means we must falsify all other “ways” and point men to the only way; the only truth; the only life which is Christ Jesus our Lord. Not only does St. Jude admonish us to contend for the faith, but also the apostle Peter. In his first epistle, Peter wrote in the third chapter; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” The word answer in verse fifteen of chapter three means, a defense. There is a great need for us to rise to the accusation of the times and the seasons; in the midst of many so-called gods and goddess, gurus, swamis, and ascended masters, there is a great need for the Church of the Lord Jesus to oppose heresies while at the same time preaching and teaching Jesus Christ. The message of the Berean Christian is Jesus Christ and him crucified, and that there is no other way, and no other hope.

 

VII. The Berean Christian is willing to suffer for the faith.

This is also seldom realized in the Church of Jesus Christ in the western world and particularly here in America. We seem to think that the persecution of Christians died out with the Roman Coliseum. But the persecution of the Believers in Christ never really stopped. Down through the centuries whether the Romans or the Catholic Institution, and later the religion of Islam, Christians many times had to give up there lives for the testimony which they held. This is one of the greatest legacies of our faith and the blood of our brothers and sisters who loved not their lives even unto the death. Should we now betray their sacrifice by compromising the faith for which they suffered and died? And what of our brothers and sisters in our day; in many countries of the world many are under great trail? In every Muslim country Christians are suffering great persecution such as; imprisonments, torture, decapitation, castration, and deportations. Many Christians around the world are sitting in some cold, filthy prison cell right now, and they are full of joy of the Holy Ghost.

     

 

    To be a Christian witness is to be a Christian martyr. The word in the Greek for “witness” is the word from which we get, “martyr.” Simply put; a Christian is always ready to suffer, and if need be, die for the message he or she is preaching to others. The reason for this is because the Christian who suffers realizes that he or she is dead already, and his life is hid with Christ in God. This was true of the apostle Paul and Silas who were the ministers that brought the gospel of the grace of God to the Berean citizens of Macedonia Paul having been sent away because of the persecution came to Berea to preach Christ unto them. This is that same Paul who wrote, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (Phil. 1:29). This is one of those precious gifts that we do not hear of from pulpits in America. Paul said, “For unto you it is given. . .” that is, it is a gift from God just as much as any other gift we receive from God. Will you become a Berean Christian and receive God’s gift of suffering for Christ sake? “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts14:22). “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.” (2 Thess. 1:5). To suffer for righteousness sake is more glorious than we can know in this life. To be so identified with the Lord Jesus that this world hates you just as it hates Jesus Christ is a wonderful testimony that we are not of the world. If we were of the world the world would love it own; but we are not of the world, but have been called out of the world. “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” (James 5:10-11). Most of the persecution that the Berean Christians   shall endure will come from the so-called “Church.” Paul writing to his son in the faith concerning how in the last days, “. . all they that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13). For the child of God, there is going to be joy in that blessed morning; in that eternal morning where no tears are shed; where no burdens to bear; where no sorrows to share. All will be bright and fair, when we all meet up there. O, Joy in that morning and beautiful for situation; all because of that precious blood that was shed; the Lamb of God for sinners slain.

 

 

Conclusion

 

   These are just a few indicators that we can use to determine if we are being the Bereans we should be. These are by no means all the characteristics of a Berean Christian, but I hope that this will spark your own study on this subject. The need for discernment is great in our day, and there is every wind of false doctrine blowing through out the Church and the World. The only sure foundation that will not be moved in these tempestuous times and seasons is the holy word of God. We are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. This means that the word of God is our ultimate authority on all things; especially when it comes to sound doctrine. The word of God is alive, and energetic; it is dynamic in its working, and sharper than any two-edged sword. If we let it guild us by the Spirit of God, it will reveal to us the will of God and shine the precious light on our path. But it will also pierce to the dividing asunder or soul and spirit, and will even divide the bone from the marrow and expose all the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is the word by which the true gospel is preached unto men.  

  

 

          

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