October 2, 2015
Acts 17:10, 11
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
The Church is important! I did three blogs on Matthew 16:18 and 19 to show the importance of the Church – May 1, 4 and 6 of this year. (By the way, except when exactly quoting the scripture, I capitalize Church when referring to the universal Church. When referring to the local church, I don’t capitalize the word.) I would like to add another reason the Church is important, and it involves The Truth And Community.
Paul and Silas were ministering in Thessalonica, Greece. They made great progress the first three weeks of their work there, teaching in the synagogue. In Acts 17:1 through 3 it says the Apostle “…reasoned with…the Jews…from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer, and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.’ ” Some Jews and many Greeks, including some prominent women, according to verse 4, “…joined Paul and Silas.”
But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the
evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an
uproar…they dragged…some of the brethren to the rulers of the city, crying
out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
…And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard
these things. (Acts 17:5, 6, 8).
Now we come to our featured scripture, Acts 17:10 and 11:
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.
I’ve always admired these Berean Jews. Being fair-minded they wanted to know the truth. Paul and Silas had presented to them just what they had taught in Thessalonica: “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” (Acts 17:3). I’m sure these fair-minded Jews searched the Old Testament scrolls, and concentrated on such scriptures as Psalm 2, Isaiah 9, 53, 61, and Malachi 4. The result? It says in Acts 17:12, “Therefore many of them believed….” While many of them believed, some didn’t. In Acts 17:13 it tells us what happened: “But when the Jews from Thessalonica [a few miles to the east] learned that the word of God was preached by Paul in Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.” To save Paul, the new believers – called the brethren in verse 14 – “…sent Paul away…[and] brought him to Athens….” (Acts 17:14 and 15).
This searching “…the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so….” happened in a Berean Jewish synagogue! There is no record of a church being founded in Berea. But the incident in Berea supports an important point about the Church concerning The Truth And Community! The Truth is more easily established in The Community of the Church than it is with the individual believer! There are scriptures to back this up:
• Proverbs 24:6 – “…in multitude of counselors there is safety.” While this is in the context of making plans for war, it also stands when discerning the true meaning of God’s Word. In my retirement, I teach two Bible studies besides filling pulpits almost every Sunday. I have told the folks hearing me, “Don’t just take my word for it. I don’t claim to have a corner on the truth! Be like the Bereans and ‘…search…the Scriptures…to find out whether these things…[are] so.‘ ” Too many bad and tragic things have happened when people blindly follow one leader and his or her version of the truth!
• John 14:6 – Jesus said, “I am…the truth…” But how many godly scholars have studied the Word over the centuries to give us the full picture of our Lord and Savior that we have today?
• Ephesians 4:11 and 12 – “…and He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ….” God gave these offices to the Church! It is the Church that He has designed to “…grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ…joined and knit together….” (Ephesians 4:15 and 16).
• I Timothy 3:15 – “…the church of the living God [is] the pillar and ground of the truth.” Notice, it is not the individual who is the pillar and ground of the truth. It is the church of the living God – the corporate, living body of believers together!
• Hebrews 10:23 through 25 – “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” It is in the context of the regularly-gathered Church that we are to provoke (prod) one another to faithfully live out the Christian life!
So make the Church a regular priority in your life! If you want to know The Truth, it is best found in the context of Community – the Community of the Church!