“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11 NASB)
Maurice Wilcox – When I get a pastoral outline in the bulletin I am often impressed with the outline and its insights. At other times I am asked questions about the teachings of the Bible? A couple of the tools that I use to study out the outline or question include Vines Complete Expository Dictionary and a Greek-English lexicon. I try to pick out an important word on which the argument or meaning of the outline or question depends and do a word study on how that word is used elsewhere in the Bible. It is often interesting to see the various ways the word is translated. The various usages often lend themselves to and outline clarifying the truth being discussed.
An example: Acts 17:11 – The word that stands out to me is the word examining as in ‘examining the scriptures’. I Cor. 10:25 describes a time when we should not closely examine something that is wrong.
I Cor. 2:14-15 contrasts the natural man who can’t discern (the word for examine) spiritual things with the spiritual man who discerns all things.
A non-Biblical usage of the word translates it as ‘inquire about the words’. The Berean’s did this daily. We ought to also examine scriptures far more often than we usually do.
Pastor Andrew – I can vividly remember hearing one Sunday evening message when I was some 13 or 14 years old. The sermon was terrifying because an evangelist, whose name I do not remember, preached on the importance of being confident that you had eternal life and not simply a religious inclination. He questioned the audience this way and that about their sincerity, forgiveness, love for God, abhorrence of sin, and many other godly virtues which should characterize the model Christ follower. “Are you really a follower of Christ?” I was at an impasse and here is why. I knew the bible said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” I understood that I was a sinner and did bad things. I welcomed the fact that I needed salvation and that salvation was by faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. I knew that at 5 years old I had trusted Christ as my Savior! However, I also knew a lot of the time, I did not “feel” saved! I knew I still did bad things, more than I would have liked to admit…how could I be a Christian? Christians love the Lord with all their heart, don’t they? Christians long for an open bible, an early hour, and a prayer-filled morning each day, or so I thought. I might have wanted those things and even done them sometimes, but they were not the consistent tenor of my life. I figured something must be wrong because I seemed so inclined to walk in the flesh and the only hope I had was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Which should have been enough but…Here’s the point. I didn’t have confidence to understand God’s Word for myself. I remember lots of sermons about “making sure you were saved,” while I was a teenager. It seemed like the evangelists who spoke had a verse to question my salvation for every verse I had which secured it! The sermon I mentioned above was no exception. By the time the evangelist was finished I was almost sure I had been duped in the sense that I thought I was a believer, but after his sermon I wasn’t so sure any more. He ended the evening with two questions. “If you are 100% sure you are saved I want you to raise you hand.” Of course, I had no choice but to raise my hand! I knew I believed in Jesus! “If you are not a 100% sure you have been saved, raise your hand.” I snuck my other hand up about shoulder height just to make sure if someone was peeking they wouldn’t see me raising both hands. I held my hand there for just a split second and then back down it went!
What does this have to do with Acts 17:11 you ask? Well, the Bereans must have known something I didn’t at the time. After Paul preached to them, they were neither swayed by his persuasive arguments, nor were they impressed with his message as if it were the direct Word of God. Although it was probably both! They were not convinced of what Paul said until they searched out the Scriptures for themselves and concluded that he was absolutely right! Based on their interpretation of many old testament passages concerning the Messiah they probably concluded that the old testament did in fact point to the cross-work of the Messiah. My point is this. The Bereans had confidence in the Word of God over the word of Paul. They balanced and weight Paul’s message with the standard of the scriptures they had available to them. They didn’t “raise both hands to his gospel queries” as I did during the sermon I mentioned above. They searched the scriptures and saw the truth in the words of Paul because it was not His truth, it was God’s! This encourages me in my own study of God’s Word! I have learned how to use some of the tools believers have long used when “examining the Scriptures,” like the Bereans. Stay tuned for this Sunday as we work through some of those tools!