How important is it to know what you believe?
I think we need less and less “blind believers.”
In Acts 17:10-15, we find the account of the Bereans. (Go grab your Bible and read this passage.) The Bereans are not talked about much in the biblical text, but they are extremely important. They are more than just a quick stop on the missionary journeys of Paul and Silas. Do not treat the Bereans as a blip on the radar. The key to understanding the Bereans is found in the last part of verse 11. “…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Now Paul and Silas had just begun preaching the glorious message of the gospel to these people, and before they believed, they went to the Scriptures themselves, and checked it out. They put their own eyes on the Bible and made certain that Paul and Silas were preaching truth.
Once the Bereans examined the Scriptures, we find that many of them “therefore believed…” The term therefore shows a connection to a previous thought. The belief of the Bereans was a result, or a connection to their keen examination of the Scriptures. They knew what they believed before they even believed.
Obviously, there are several things we can take away from the Bereans. Even though, Paul and Silas were well-known preachers of the gospel, the Bereans didn’t know them from Adam. So whenever they began preaching this gospel of Jesus Christ, the Bereans went back to the Scriptures. Paul and Silas, for all of their missionary successes, were not viewed as celebrities to the Bereans. The idea of “celebrity pastor” is a dangerous, slippery slope to be on. We should never, ever view a preacher as someone who should go unchecked by the Word. We should hold everyone up to the standard of the Word of God. Whenever we begin allowing preachers to go unchecked, ego and pride enters in, and the Word of God becomes less important, resulting in unfaithfulness to Scripture. We have allowed preachers to become unchecked celebrities with no accountability, and the inherent result is a steady stream of garbage being spewed from many pulpits. Check your preacher. Hold him up to the standard of the Word of God. If he is faithfully preaching the Word, people will believe, and will be strengthened in the faith.
Another takeaway from the Bereans is the importance of the doctrine of the “priesthood of the believer.” As Protestant Christians, we should all affirm this truth, and it was displayed mightily in Berea. The priesthood of all believers is that we have the ability, and the privilege, of examining the Scripture ourselves and that no other chosen believer has a higher standard with God than the other. As a Christian, you do not have to earn the right to read the Bible and proclaim it. The Bible has never been more accessible than it is right now, and we should praise God for this. Humbly open it, study it, and use it as your standard of truth. If Paul and Silas had come preaching a false gospel, the Bereans would have seen their error, and rejected that false gospel. The ESV Study Bible comments on verse 11: “Luke encourages this searching of the Scriptures as a pattern for all believers and also gives support to the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture, the idea that the Bible can be understood rightly, not only by scholars but also by ordinary people who read it eagerly and diligently, with conscious dependence on God for help.” Christian, the writer of Acts encourages you to get in the Word. Be a Berean! Examine everything you take in. Hold up your preacher to the standard of the Word.
This is important. Don’t be a mindless consumer, lapping up everything you hear from he pulpit without examining it by the Word. Blind followers and mindless consumers open themselves and their churches up to harm brought about by false gospels. For the sake of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, we need less blind followers, and more Bereans.