Sunday, March 20, 2011

What Does it Mean to be Like a Berean?

What does it mean to be like or follow the example of the Bereans? When I was growing up in the independent baptist church I was taught about the Bereans in the context of everyone but the baptist's being wrong in their doctrine and the importance of always testing every teaching that is outside of the baptist church against what I had been taught in the baptist school and church that I was attending. But now that I am older and striving to follow the example of the Bereans, I have come to a different understanding of Acts 17:10-11.

In this passage we read: "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."

While it IS true that they tested what they were taught, it wasn't their doctrinal statement that they were using for the testing, but the Scriptures, and we also find that passage says they "were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica". If we look back at those in Thessalonica, we will find that they weren't as open minded and didn't receive the word, but instead got jealous and plotted against those who were bringing the word.

What the Lord has taught me as I am learning to be more like the Bereans is that I need to be more open minded to the teachings of others and willing to admit that much of what I was taught for the first 20+ years of my life was not really based on the Scriptures but based on legalistic doctrine of men, which I now consider to be false teachings. I have learned to listen with an open mind, realizing that I have butchered the Scriptures from behind the pulpit when teaching what I have been taught without first testing those teachings against the Scriptures.

This is from the Berean Bible Society Website:

So, when we say that someone is a "Berean" we mean that they do two things: (1) They have an open mind and willingly receive the Word of God when it is taught to them and (2) But then, they check out what they were taught by comparing it with the Scriptures.

Both aspects are important. Some people are so closed minded that they will not even listen to anything new or that might threaten what they already know. Others are so gullible that they accept whatever is told them without ever checking it against what the Bible says. Both extremes are to be avoided.

A Berean is one who has a balanced viewpoint. We listen to what someone has to say because we are eager to learn the word of God more perfectly. We realize that we have not learned it all. But then, we take what we have heard and compare it with the Bible. Then, if both match, we have learned something and increased our knowledge of God's Word, rightly divided.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Gathering Exists for the Going

By Dave Black

Another good reminder this morning from Eric Carpenter that we gather for mutual edification, not for worship (worship is 24/7). But why mutual edification? I put it this way to my students: The gathering exists for the going. The commission of our Lord which comes upon every believer must be given highest priority (Matt. 28:19-20). This means that, as important as mutual edification is, we must put top value upon God's agenda for the church. There's nothing wrong in coming together to be mutually strengthened ... unless it keeps us from reaching our town and our world for Christ.

We err when we place too much emphasize on the gathering. "Don't greet anyone on the way" was how Jesus put it to His disciples. The Lord had a clearly defined mission for His followers. He had told them what to do and where to go. Now He's telling them not to get involved in anything that might detract from that mission. And -- please listen to me carefully -- even good things can do that. It's called the principle of priority.

The mission of the church is to point others to Christ. The calling of every Christian is to build redemptive relationships. So, having been edified during the meeting, do we feel ready to flow into a web of relationships and network them for Christ? If not, there is something wrong with the gathering!

Evangelism is the missing link in so much discussion about ecclesiology today. God's redemptive plan is at the top of His priority list, and each of us is privileged to have a part. How do we get to that place? First, make a definite commitment to be a Great Commission Christian. Second, have faith that God will use the witness of your serving lifestyle to win the lost. Finally, don't give up! Bathe the lost in prayer. Ask God for boldness and open doors. Develop a gift-driven life. Target receptive individuals.

Friends, think about it. Our involvement with church activities does not always lend itself to becoming redemptive people. In fact, it is even possible that our "mutual edification service" is actually an escape mechanism to avoid real involvement in the world as salt and light. Here's the principle: God sows saints (edification) in order to cultivate, sow, and reap (evangelism). You are the message. No one will receive Christ through you who does not first receive you. Our attitude, our whole demeanor, will be different if deep in our hearts we expect God to use us in His great harvest!

The gathering exists for the going. Got the point?

There are millions of lost sheep out there. We're sent to find them. This involves risk. It involves leaving our little happy holy mutually-edifying huddles and getting our hands dirty in the world.

Known for his love for New Testament Greek and passion for teaching, Dave Black is a husband, father, professor, author, preacher, lecturer, web journalist, and (above all) a sinner saved by God’s sovereign grace. You can find out more about Dave and read more of his articles and blog post on his website:

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Using Google Docs to Manage your Finances

Many people set a New Year's Resolution to get their family's finances in order. I know that is one of my resolutions again this year. Since getting my Cr-48 Google Chrome notebook I have been using Google Docs more and more. I decided to search the Google Docs Template Gallery to see if there were any templates to help me with this resolution. I found they have lot's of templates available for many different uses. Here are three in particular that I found that Alison and I will be using this year to help us keep our finances under control this year.
  • The Simple Budget Planner is a simple, automatic budget planner. Starting from your monthly income, this budget planner recommends spending amounts for common categories. All numbers are adjustable to fit your needs.
  • The FPU Gazelle Debt Snowball is a worksheet based on Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU).
  • The Family Budget Planner is a yearly budget spreadsheet for family budget planning. Includes a detailed list of income and expense categories.