“Spot the Not”
Dear Lord help me be of more noble character. May I be slower to trust in the persuasiveness of men, but be quicker to examine all things through the scriptures.
Read: Acts 17:11 NIV
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Of the many reasons provided in the Bible for reading and memorizing scripture, the verse above highlights the importance of using the Bible to test the teachings we hear from others. Noteworthy in this verse is that the Bereans were applauded for examining, of all people, the apostle Paul. In Philippians 3:5 we are told that Paul was a Pharisee, which means that he was well acquainted with scripture as a result of intense study, memorization and argumentation. Many historians and philosophers of today would say Paul was one of the greatest minds to ever live. If ever there were a person to “take their word for it” then Paul was it. Despite this, Luke says that the Bereans were of more noble character because they compared what Paul was saying to scripture.
I think this should give all believers pause. Many of us are too quick to take what we hear on spiritual matters as the truth based on the position or the perceived intelligence of the speaker. The importance of being an active and not a passive participant in our spiritual beliefs is underscored in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers”. What we believe about spiritual matters is of the utmost significance and affects not only this life but the life to come.
There is no better way to spot error or fraud than to be intimately familiar with the truth. I think back to a recent example where this has played itself out in my life. I happen to be a car guy and enjoy taking opportunities to demonstrate my car knowledge. I recently took a quiz where I was shown two pictures of essentially the same car, one picture would be the real deal and the other would be a close copy. I managed to do well on the quiz not because I was familiar with the copies, in fact I had never seen these cars before, but because I was so familiar with the real deal. Similarly, when we are deeply acquainted with the Bible, we will instantly be able to recognize falsehood.
What we believe about God has eternal significance and because of this we should “watch our doctrine closely”. God has not left us to our own devices to determine what we should believe but has provided the guidebook in the Scriptures. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:10 that we will stand before God and give an account for what we have done while in the body. It makes no mention of standing before God with our pastor or our spiritual mentors on the radio or the books we read. We will stand alone and we alone will be held accountable for testing all things in light of scripture. Let us commit to examining the scriptures for ourselves.
God help me to be a more active participant in my understanding of spiritual things. I thank You for giving us both the scriptures and the Holy Spirit who illuminates the scripture and guides us into all truth.