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.
Post a Comment