The Berean Way
The book of Acts records for us the different types of reactions that people had as they heard the gospel. Some rejected the message, some accepted and obeyed it and still others like king Agrippa (Acts 26:28) were indifferent towards the message.
In Acts 17, Paul arrives at Thessalonica which was in the region of Macedonia. As was Paul's custom, he entered a synagogue of the Jews and reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence for Jesus (17:2-3). Some who heard Paul were persuaded and believed but there were Jews at Thessalonica who rejected the message and began to fiercely persecute these Christians.
The brethren at Thessalonica had to immediately send Paul and Silas away to Berea where they received a much different response from the Bereans.
"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." (17:11)
The Bereans were more noble-minded than those at Thessalonica and in this verse Paul outlines three reasons why:
They received the word of God. This is a completely different reaction than the Jews at Thessalonica had. The word received can also be translated to mean that they welcomed the word of God. There was no bias or prejudice towards the gospel but openness and receptiveness to hear the word of God.
Is our attitude one that welcomes the truth? When we learn something that conflicts with what we have always known or believed to be true, do we fight against it or are we willing to humble ourselves and take God's word as it is? Let's strive to be noble-minded like the Bereans who received and welcomed the word of God.
They received the word with "great eagerness." They didn't just receive the word, but they did it with excitement and zeal. This speaks to their attitude and disposition. The word eagerness means "enthusiasm to do or have something." You can generally tell when someone is eager or excited about something. They are the employees at work who are there when the doors open and can't wait to begin the day. They are excited to learn something new and interesting.
Is that how we approach the Scriptures? Do we read and study with great eagerness? Excitement? Zeal? Enthusiasm? That will only be our attitude when we have come to treasure and love God's word and recognize its value and significance at what it does in our lives.
They examined the Scriptures daily. When Paul spoke the word of the Lord to the Bereans, they didn't just accept what he was saying blindly. They searched the Scriptures to make sure that what Paul was preaching aligned with God's word. This wasn't just a one-time, cursory look at the Scriptures but rather a daily searching, inquiring, and examining what the Scriptures taught.
Also, consider the effort and investment on the part of the Bereans. They did not have the luxury of picking up a Bible like we can today, they probably would have had to go to the Synagogue and read from a scroll. But for the Bereans, it was all worth it as they came to a greater understanding of the truth.
Do we place that kind of value on the word of God? Do we search it, examine it, and have a firm desire to know what God wants from our lives? Are we willing to dig in beyond a cursory glance and give thought to what the Scriptures teach? This morning, the word of God will be read, and a lesson will be presented from the Scriptures. Don't just take my word for it, examine the Scriptures to see if these things are so.
After receiving the word of God with great eagerness and examining the Scriptures daily. Luke records the outcome that this diligent investigation had on the Bereans:
"Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men." (Acts 17:12)
Many of these people became Christians and this is how people can become Christians today by receiving the word of God with great eagerness, examining it carefully and then rendering obedience to what the Scriptures teach.
Let's all strive to adopt the Berean way as we approach our study of God's word.