Churches once invited evangelists in for “protracted” meetings, ones that had a start date, but no definite end date. These meetings lasted in communities for weeks and even months. Members of the various churches in town as well as the unaffiliated would gather together with their Bibles to examine their lives and their convictions in light of God’s Word. The Scriptures were openly discussed, and points of difference were debated.
However, these days are a dim memory only remembered by a few. It seems that such love for the Bible has been lost. Many no longer even bring their Bibles to church services. Many church gatherings are all about social causes and recreation and entertainment instead of preaching the gospel. The devil has removed the spirit of investigation through his lie that it doesn’t matter what you believe or practice- Christ accepts it all.
We pray that you have the love of the Bible or that such love can be either kindled for the first time or rekindled. We set before you an example worthy of imitation, the Jewish residents of Berea (Acts 17:11). The Bereans were open-minded. In contrast, the Jews in Thessalonica had their minds made up against the gospel even before they heard it. The Bereans were willing to listen to Paul and to see if what he said agreed with the Scriptures. When we do our own Bible readings or listen to sermons, are we willing to set aside our preconceived ideas? Are we ready to accept God’s Word, even if it means that we must change our convictions, our teaching, and the way that we live?
Two attitudes are a “must” in keeping an open mind. The first attitude is fear, that is, reverence for God. If we exalt God to His proper place, then we will have no trouble receiving His Word. Cornelius and his family feared God (Acts 10:2). So their attitude was, “Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord” (Acts 10:33).
The second “must-have” attitude is meekness. Meekness is the attitude of total surrender of one’s will to God’s will. James said men should be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” and receive the implanted Word with meekness (Js 1:19,21). To put it simply, we must stand before God with our ears open, our mouths shut, and our tempers in check and meekly say, “God, you command, and I will obey”- end of discussion…
In Berea, Paul preached that Jesus was the Christ, furnishing proof from the Old Testament prophecies. Even though an apostle was doing the preaching, the Jews in Berea had their Old Testaments open, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They were open-minded, but they were not gullible. They were not convinced that Paul was a “Bible preacher” just because he had his Bible open and read from it.
The Bereans, like Jesus, recognized the Scriptures as the authority. Before they accepted something as true, they looked for an “it is written” (Mt 4:4). They were not satisfied to believe anything simply because “the preacher said so”. Paul’s teaching therefore had to harmonize with the Scriptures or they would not accept it as true. So, they searched daily to see if Jesus really did fulfill the Messianic prophecies as Paul taught.
Sadly, many sit in the pews of churches today with either no Bible or a closed Bible, ready to accept whatever the preacher says. They will accept his message as “so” because they consider their church and their preacher, as the voice of their church, as “the authority” instead of the Bible. And, even worse, they have no personal knowledge of the Bible to check out the preacher if they wanted to. A book on preaching I once read said that most hearers wouldn’t know error if it stood on its hind legs and barked at them. Sad, but true!
Also sad, but true, many sermons today contain little Bible. They are filled with nothing but the “fluff” of pop psychology, stories, poems, and jokes. And, in the few times that the Bible is read or referred to, its meaning is perverted.
Paul warned and then repeated his warning, “Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed” (Gal 1:8-9). Peter wrote that there were preachers who distorted Paul’s teaching like they distorted the rest of the Scripture to their own destruction, warning his readers not to be carried away by their error (2 Pet 3:16-18).
Don’t be gullible! Learn your Bible. Open your Bible. Examine the Bible for yourself. If your preacher preaches something contrary to the Bible, then it is not “so”! Do not accept it! Have a mind open to receive THE WORD and nothing else…
A soap salesman and a preacher were walking together down the sidewalk. The soap salesman was arguing that preaching the gospel was useless because the world continued to be so immoral in spite of it.
A little boy ran by, jumping in every mud puddle. The preacher turned to the salesman and said, “See that dirty boy; your soap does no good at all!”
Surprised and defensive, the soap salesman replied, “Why our product is no good unless it is applied!” “How true, said the preacher, “the same is true of the gospel.”
Open minds and open Bibles are of no value unless the Word of God is applied to life. After finding Paul’s message to be true, many of the Bereans believed (Acts 17:12). We infer that these believers did as those who first obeyed the gospel of Christ. They repented of their sins and were baptized to obtain forgiveness and continued steadfast in their discipleship (Acts 2:38, 41-42).
Knowledge of the Bible is not enough. We must have open lives to apply it. Have you applied and are you still applying the gospel to your life (Col 1:5-6)? Or, are you dirty and in need of cleansing?