Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Berean Approach

     Since I was a little girl, I have loved reading.  I entered library reading contests, worked in my elementary school library and to this day, love to spend time strolling the aisles of a Barnes and Noble.  There are so many good books to read which challenge the mind, but none as solid or fulfilling as the Bible.  Unfortunately, while most homes contain several copies of God's Word, many people do not take the time to read it.  Instead, they grab the latest best seller off the shelf and spend hours with it allowing its ideas to settle in their minds.  Don't get me wrong.  I spend lots of time reading many different authors too.  There is nothing wrong with fresh new ideas especially when it comes from a solid Christian writer; however, we do have to take a Berean approach in our reading habits.
     Over the years, many pastors, teachers and laymen have written some excellent tomes that encourage us in the faith.  I, myself,  am a blog writer for the purpose of stimulating thought and encouraging believers.  Nevertheless, none of us is perfect in our understanding.  Therefore, caution is the word for the day.
     In our celebrity driven society, it is easy for people to build  a cult around a particular author, their book or ideas.  Unless we balance this with a healthy dose of looking into the Word of God each day, we can run off onto dangerous bunny trails elevating a fellow believer to star status and eclipsing the very Savior whom we serve.  The Berean approach to anything written or spoken is perhaps our best safeguard to keeping us on the right path.
     According to Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, Paul and Silas visited the city of Berea in Northern Greece during his second missionary journey between 50 and 54 A.D.  There they presented the Gospel to the Jews and Gentiles of that city.  Acts 17:11-12 reads:  "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.  Many of them believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men."  When we look at this passage, we see that these people were called "noble" referring more to their quality of mind and heart rather than their birth.  We can infer that these people were more disposed to inquire candidly into the truth of what Paul was preaching to them because they searched the Scriptures to check it out for themselves.  They looked at the Old Testament to see what it said about the Messiah.  Furthermore, this wasn't a momentary check of the Scriptures.  They studied it daily.  Jesus (in talking to the Pharisees) said this:  "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me" (John 5:39).  The Bereans looked into God's Word to confirm what they had heard from the preaching of Paul and Silas.
     As we approach any study, book or preaching of the Word, we need to be like these people of "noble" mind and do the following:  1) Receive the Word with readiness of mind  2) Search the Scriptures to see if what is being imparted lines up with God's Word 3) Read God's Word daily so that our minds are saturated with God's thoughts 4) Be discerning in what we hear, read and see.  The end result of searching the Scripture for the Bereans was to bring them to repentance and salvation in Christ.
According to Hebrews 4:12 we read:  "For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."  No other book can do this for us.  This is why it is imperative that we lean upon God's Word for understanding, wisdom and guidance in our every day life.
The Church of the Holy Ghost in Heidelberg, Germany
     Great preaching, teaching and books that are based upon the Word of God help us in our daily walk.  They can inspire us to greater heights in our Christian life, but we must be careful to keep the Bible before all other books as the foundation stone of our faith.  In the Word, we find life, truth and all that is needful to living a godly life.  Jesus in refuting the devil said in Matthew 4:4:  "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."  May we also live in this manner as the Bereans did.  Our lives will be more balanced and able to defend our faith when God's Word is the first course of every spiritual meal.  Selah!

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