How to Be Better Bereans
by Kevin DeYoung
The Jews in Berea, it is said, were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). How telling–for them and for us–that nobility is measured not by titles, land, parentage, wealth, or degrees, but by how we handle the word of God. Our approach to the Scriptures sets us apart as riff-raff or royalty.
So how do we become better Bereans?
That’s the question I recently posed to my congregation and the question I want to explore this week. How can we be more like the noble Bereans and less like the rabble from Thessalonica (Acts 17:5)?
Let me suggest ten ways: three for today, four for Wednesday, and a final three on Thursday.
1. Listen to the Sermon With an Open Bible
There is no authority we have in the pulpit except in so far as it is derived from the word of God. It worries me when I speak at different places and read through the Scripture text without hearing anyone opening their Bibles (or at least stare down at a screen). I want to say, “You don’t know me. You don’t know if you should listen to me. You don’t know if anything I have to say is worthwhile. I hope you didn’t come to hear me. God is the one worth listening to, and he only speaks by his word. So I’ll wait a few seconds while you grab a Bible.”
Incidentally, you do not want to be at a church where you can listen to sermon after sermon and it doesn’t even matter if your Bible is open. You want to be at a church where the preaching is pulling you in to the text—to see it, to listen to it, to find connections with it. The best stuff in every sermon should arise from the truth you see in the text, not from the illustrations, the stories, or the preacher’s own enlightenment.
In Nehemiah 8:8 it says about the leaders in Jerusalem who came and were teaching the word that “they read from the book, from the law of God clearly, and they gave this sense so people could understand the reading.” In a nutshell, that’s what preaching is. The preacher reads from the book and then explains it clearly so the people can get it.
Ultimately, the only reason to listen to any preacher is because he brings you back to the Scriptures. Hopefully you trust your pastors because you know them personally and can see evidences of grace in their lives. But just being a nice person or a good parent or a sincere teacher does not mean you have any real God-given authority. There are lots of people who are sincere and nice and fine people who do not teach what accords with Scripture. They speak without divine authority.
Test everything. Take your Bible with you. Open it up. Follow along. See for yourself whether everything being taught accords with Scripture…
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