The Example of the Bereans

Written by Phillip Nicewaner

“As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.”[1]

Christians have many dangers to face in this world. Internally, we are burdened with the weight of the temptations that come to us through subtle whispers that offer promises of distinctly sweet pleasure by way of indulgences. Even greater, though, are the dangers brought about by the teachers of iniquity – those propagators of lies. Our generation has seen many of them and their vast exposure to the world and the weaknesses of individuals to charismatic rhetoric could be credited to nothing else but the growing capabilities of the media to deliver these influences. It is for this reason that our generation has been exposed to more of these false teachers than the generations before and why the generations hereafter shall experience even greater problems with falsity. Fear not, though, for those counted among the fold of Christ Jesus have extraordinary examples left for them if they are followed.

Luke, recording the journeys of Paul, during his ministry, writes of the Bereans who, says he, were “of more noble character than the Thessalonians.” Why? Because “they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Should this not shame some of those who bear the name of Christ; indeed, the very same who take all things at face value by a perceivably infallible teachers? This burden that all Christians should bear is one of heavy scrutiny, wherein those in Christ are to scrutinize all teachings presented in light of the Scripture that was given by way of Prophets and Apostles, under the direct guidance and inspiration of the Most High God. There is, though, a growing trend of ignorance and idleness in this regard, which affords a certain freedom for liars to espouse their silly and, oft-times, heretical nonsense.

In recent times, there came a supposed revival at Lakeland, Florida, headed by one, Todd Bentley and company, where men and women were seen collapsing and bursting into “drunken” laughter while the Spirit was said to fall upon them. The most disturbing parts of his [Bentley’s] ministry are the anecdotes of violence while fulfilling the command of God which supposedly came upon him and a story of his demon possession after having been “saved,” all of which are followed by hysterical laughter and amazement. Of the latter, behold the words of the Lord Jesus, who said:

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.” [2]

The believer cannot be possessed by demons, for Christ Jesus is that “strong man.” What does this mean? Bentley is either unsaved and had become demon-possessed or lied about the demon possession – both of which makes him a deceiver and, by virtue of the fact, unfit for the true ministry of God. And what of the violence? To this, Paul wrote that the leader or overseer must not be violent, but gentle (1Ti 3:3; Tit 1:7) and, further, that all Christians must be gentle and loving (Eph 4:2,31).

Falsity needs to be defended against with the utmost fervor, for the greatest affliction in the church is infection from within. It is certain that not even the gates of hell will prevail against Christ’s church, but how many more people must fall to the nonsense of Christian violence and possession, assured prosperity, or the control of God through the power of faith? As surely as there is a faithful Christian on earth, the passion to refute and defend against these things should become an overwhelming drive. All are responsible for standing on the side of truth, whatever the cost, through love, gentleness, and respect, despite the poverty which inevitably arrives through faithfulness, and impotent outside of God’s will. Let those who proclaim, “Amen, glory to Christ!” stand firm against iniquity and falsity, remaining faithful to the example set for them and the Word which edifies them, before the Lord who saves and judges rightly.

To the glory of God, through Christ Jesus the Lord. Amen.

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Ac 17:10–12). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996 (electronic ed.) (Mt 12:25–29). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


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