“If I were the devil, one of my first aims would be to stop folk from digging into the Bible. I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorns, hedges and man traps to frighten people off” -JI Packer The Bible is the all-time best selling book in history(every year!). It’s also the worlds most translated book,most burned, maligned and stolen book. Did you know that it’s illegal in 35 countries? Owning one in N. Korea is punishable by death. And…..HOW could a such a work of 66 books by 40 authors, over the course of 1500 years, across three continents-be perfectly cohesive, with NO contradictions. Countless lives have been transformed by the Bible-Yet, tragically it’s one of the most neglected books – even among professing Christians. How sad that we have direct revelation from God in the treasure of scripture, and yet we don’t diligently mine it’s riches!
Another convicting quote says it this way….“How can you say, ‘God is silent’ when your Bible is closed.”
Huffington post reports that the average Christian household in America has 4.4 Bibles in their possession. Even so, the rate of ‘Bible illiteracy’ is rapidly escalating( Barna.org) We may own it, but do we even know what’s in it!?Conversely, One of my missionary friends was shocked when he visited an underground church in China that had only two Bibles for their 300 plus members. They had to sign up each week for just a few precious moments with a copy of God’s Word.
But…..the Berean‘s were more noble! This week will meet some Jews in the obscure Macedonian town of Berea. A place we never hear about again in Scripture -save one reference to a Berean convert named Sopater, mentioned in Acts 20:4. The Bereans were deeply dedicated to the study of the Scriptures. They didn’t just swallow ‘hook,line and sinker’ what the preacher said, they checked it out. They asked questions and studied the word “Daily“! Who’s ever heard of a church, bookstore or study group named after ‘Thessalonians’? Yet today there are thousands of ‘Berean’ named churches, Berean bookstores, Bible study groups, and Berean missions or ministries. All inspired by these ‘noble’ folks who took very seriously the examination of God‘s precious word. Paul met them in Acts 17 and many of them would believe and become part of the family of God. From the scriptures, The Apostle introduced them to the very One their scriptures announced-the Lord Jesus Christ—John 1:1 & Jn 5:39. Here are some notes on Acts 17:10-15….
V. 10 ‘immediately’ ‘by night’-the mob once again was calling for Paul’s blood. Acts 17:5-9-there will be no returning to Thessalonica for Paul.‘Berea’-part of Greece/Macedonian region -located approx 50 some miles southwest of Thess. -on Eastern slope of the Olympian mtn range -fairly large population in that day‘Went to synagogue’-Paul’s regular first stop-see past notes. -Also Romans 9:1/10:1-3 for Paul’s deep burden for his kinsmen
V. 11 ‘more noble’ or ‘more fair minded’-word ‘noble’ used twice(and here) in New Testament —Luke 12:12 and 1 Cor 1:26-not noble in a ‘royal’/‘elite’ sense but nobility of ‘mind and heart’-especially in contrast to the Thess. Jews who were closeminded and resistant (unlike the many gentiles of Thess who believed) ‘Readiness of mind’(Luke 8:17/John 7:17)-speaks of an openness and ready desire to hear Gods word-eager interest -they had a ‘teachable spirit’ -hungry for Truth, but not gullible because they….
‘Searched’ or ‘Examined’ -word connotes a judicial/investigation -research, investigate, search out-testing what is said against ‘that which is written’ -See Acts 17:2-4 for what Paul would have taught them. -Christ-centered expositions of the OT scriptures. ‘Daily’-more than the weekly Sabbath time in the word, they labored over the scriptures every day (Deut 6:6-8)‘To find if these things were so’-truth was their goal-objectivity was their motive -the scriptures were their guide and standard
V. 12 ‘therefore many believed’ -resulting from Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel as revealed by the Word. -we see this pattern all throughout Acts and in history.-what a beautiful site this must’ve been to see these Bereans finally connect the dots between the Old Testament and the one who fulfilled it all perfectly – the messiah, the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ-faith comes by hearing the word of God. Rom 10:17-the goal of the Word of God is belief in the God of the Word -We don’t worship the Bible-the Bible directs and informs our worship of Him. -In His word we ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’ (psalm 34:8) and we hear from Him. (Luke 4:4)
Some possible questions here:Do I have a teachable spirit? What does it mean to really study Gods word? How often am I doing this? Should I just accept everything the preacher says, or is there a healthy process of questioning available? What do you do when you hear an errant preacher? On tv? On radio? (Could be some good stories here:) How much of our daily conversation centers around the word, versus trivial things?How’s your hunger for Gods word?How often Do we pray Psalm 119:118? Who am I discipling thru the word?My family?Who are my timothys? My Pauls?Am I daily teaching/sharing the Word with others? Do I see Jesus and His redeeming work as the theme of scripture? How does my time in Gods word deepen my relationship with God? How will it sharpen others when we examining the word together? (Prov 27:17/Heb 10:24,25)
‘Prominent women’ -all three Macedonian cities saw a harvest of these ‘successful, well to do’ women -Acts 16:14/17:4 and 17:12-these women wielded a lot of influence in their culture and in the church. -confirms the high esteem and dignity the Gospel gives to women-both then and today.
V. 13 ‘but when the Jews from Thess learned the Word of God was preached by Paul..they came also and stirred up the crowds’-Word of their harvest traveled fast to the enemies of the Gospel-it wasn’t enough to kick them out of Thessalonica, they had to travel 50 miles out of the way to attack the Ministry of Gods wordWhy such hostility?
-‘word of God preached’ was the essence of their grievance Why does the enemy always fights hard against the preaching of Gods word/the sowing of Gods seed?(Matt 13:19/John 10:10)When’s the last time I witnessed a mob stirred up over the preaching of the Gospel? What if this happened in America?Would we still preach the Word?
V. 14, 15 immediately, the brethren sent Paul away…to Athens. -from the first missionary journey in Asia Minor to here, Paul had fled for his life 6 times. -Not for fear, because he sufferedMuch and could have stayed….but the Holy Spirit was leading and the church at Berea was now solidly established. -may have some good discussion here on ‘when is it time to move on’ to the next opportunity? How can we best discern Gods voice on transition?
Here are some solid sermons on this weeks scripture:
Here’s the handout with verses and discussion questions. Also here’s a powerful visual ‘bible hand’ you can print from the navigators on key aspects of Gods word-I’ve used this for many years to visually show the power of His word in our life-Heb 4:12. Link here and pic below
Next week we goto Athens & Mars Hill.
Praying for you as you study the Word of God to connect to more deeply with the Son of God!
stu jr John 20:21 in 2021!
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“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonicalearned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed.
(Context)What was similar about Berea and Thessalonica? (Acts 13:5,14/14:1/17:1-9)
What distinguished the Bereans’ from the Thessalonians?
(Isa 1:18/John 5:39,40/ Acts 17:11)
Why is it important to question and examine what the preacher says? Whatever happened to diligent study & discernment?(I Thes5:17/ 2 Tim 2:15/4:3-5/ 1 John 2:14/4:1)
How serious should every believer be about the word of God?(Psalm 1:1-3/Prov 2:1-7/ Psalm 19:7-11/119:118/Matt 4:4/Rom 10:17)
What about the Gospel resonated with wealthy gentiles?(Matt 2:1,2, 10-12/ Luke 23:50/Acts 16:14/17:4)
Why did the unbelieving Jews continue to stalk and harass Paul?
(Acts 14:19/Phil 3:2/1 Tim 4:1)
(Testimony time) How has God’s word turned my world upside down? (Josh 1:8/ Psalm 119:97-100, 103-105/ Isa 66:1,2/Rom 12:2/Heb 4:12)
How committed am I to ‘daily’ studying and sharing Gods word?(Deut 11:18-21/Prov 8:34-38/Acts 2:42-47/1 Pet 2:2,3/James 1:21)