Friday, April 20, 2007

Bereans versus Modern Christians

In Acts 17:11 Luke compared the Bereans to the Thessalonians when he said they "were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." The Bereans were considered nobler for not just taking Paul and Silas' word for it. They actually studied the Scripture to find out if Paul and Silas were right or wrong. This is extremely important to understand because it is obviously commending the Bereans, in contrast to the Thessalonians, because while they listened to Paul and Silas with enthusiasm, they still checked what they were told for accuracy by comparing it with the scriptures. They did not just blindly accept what they were told. If anyone could of commanded blind submission to his teachings it was the apostle Paul. Paul could have rebuked the Bereans for not submitting to God’s appointed leader. Who did the Bereans think they were checking out the apostle Paul’s teaching? How could they interpret Scripture apart from Paul anyway? What arrogance! Why did they even bother going to Scripture when they had an apostle to listen to?

The noble Bereans used scripture as their only infallible standard for truth. The principle of Sola Scriptura is very firmly and clearly established in this text. Sola Scriptura is a Latin phrase meaning “by Scripture alone.” It proclaims the idea that only the Bible has the authority to bind the consciences of believers. “Protestants did recognize other forms of authority, such as church offices, civil magistrates, and church creeds and confessions. But they saw these authorities as being derived from and subordinate to the authority of God. None of these lesser authorities was deemed absolute, because all of them were capable of error. God alone is infallible. Fallible authorities cannot bind the conscience absolutely; that right is reserved to God and his Word alone.” (RC Sproul -Grace Unknown pg. 42)

In Revelation 2:2 the church of Ephesus is commended for being ones who had “tested” those who said they were apostles and were not, and “found them liars.” The Ephesians were applauded for “testing” (same word used for God testing Abraham in Hebrews 11:17) the apostles. How could the Ephesians have the audacity to test someone who appeared to have an apostolic anointing? Was it arrogance or was it wisdom? In many modern protestant churches you are sneered at and rebuked if you question the authority of the leadership. If you so much as question their counsel you are in rebellion to God. What a tragedy that the apostles wanted to be tested and some pastors condemn it. The bottom line is laid out in 2 Tim. 2:15 – “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” We have a duty to STUDY! Many Christians today use the phrase “my pastor says…” way more than they say, “the scripture says…” God is not looking for dumb sheep that blindly follow their leaders. He is looking for His sheep that diligently follow Him. We must show ourselves approved unto God. We must rightly divide the Word of Truth!

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