Today I want to kick off with a passage from the book of Acts in the New Testament;
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men”
When we break into the story the Apostles Paul and Silas have just been run out of Thessalonica for preaching the Gospel. This is a warning that even believing the ‘message of peace’ can bring trouble! However, the two intrepid preachers reach Berea which receives the high praise that the people there were more “fair minded” than those in Thessalonica. Why is this compliment paid? We read that “they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”
This is a truly amazing statement which says something about both Paul and the Bereans. Starting with the latter, the Bereans get a definite ‘thumbs up’ because they don’t just drink in everything that they are told with ‘ a yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir’ attitude. Rather they check everything that Paul and Silas say against the Scriptures as they realise that it is just possible that they are getting led up the garden path.
Friends, not much as changed in 2000 years as there are no end of people seeking to deceive gullible people. But thanks be to God we have been given a ‘gold standard’ which enables us to separate the good from the bad. That gold standard is exactly what the Bereans had in their day and exactly what we have in our own day; the Scriptures! Notice that it is not tradition or the thoughts of the biggest 'big wig' in town or even the local religious guru, no indeed, it is the Bible alone which can guard us from error.
But we need to see something else here- when it comes to examining Paul’s mentality. Here we have an inspired apostle- someone who has seen the risen Christ, a man who has been on a trip to Heaven and wrote a good part of the New Testament. Despite all of that he is delighted to….wait for it….not be taken on trust but to be checked against the Bible!!! Here we have an outline of what a spiritual leader should be; a man who consciously lives under the authority of the Scriptures and is happy to be checked against that standard by his people.
Folks, whoever you are and wherever you live, the challenge for all of us is to be good Bereans; check everything which we are taught against the Bible. And secondly, to make sure that we are under the spiritual leadership of a man with a ‘Paul and Silas mentality’ who is happy to be held biblically accountable.