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October 6, 2020 5:00 pm
Thanks for being here today and if you brought a Bible, we would like to open it to the book of acts chapter 17 were to be continuing in our study the life of the great man. The apostle Paul. Acts chapter 17.
If you would buy as many of you know I was a chemistry major in college and I told over 60 hours of half college chemistry over 30 hours of physics and math and in all of these courses we were taught to use the scientific method, not a scientific method but put very simply, is simply a way of evaluating new ideas and new theories that come along by subjecting them to a rigorous examination and that examination is based on established scientific truth. The scientific method says it doesn't matter how attractive the idea is it doesn't matter how passionate the person presenting it is it doesn't matter how much political pressure. People may put on the scientific method says we take those new ideas. We examine them based on existing truth and if those ideas survive the examination receptive is true. If they don't survive the examination. We reject them. It's false. It's not about emotion.
It's not about preconceived bias, it's all about the evidence. It's all about true. Now we're going to watch today as a group of Jewish people in the time of the apostle Paul use the scientific method that they're not going to use it to evaluate some new scientific theory.
They're going to use it to evaluate and answer the question. Is Jesus really the Messiah and after we look at this. Then of course we're gonna say what what difference does this make to us. So that's our plan little bit of background.
Remember, the apostle Paul is on his second missionary journey PS3 friends along Timothy's Silas and Dr. Luca. Let's show you where they've been. They have crossed over from modern Northwest Turkey is the city of Troy is across the Aegean Sea to the northern Greek town of Philippi here at Philippi. Paul and his team spent several weeks sharing Christ establishing the church and then here Paul splits his team believes Luke and Timothy here to work with this fledgling church while he and Silas move 100 miles to the southwest down this yellow street that you see which is the ancient Roman road.
The nation way and here in Thessalonica.
Paul spent six months sharing Christ building a church and as is, as we seen in the past. He also managed to to get for himself the the seething hatred of the unbelieving Jewish community event town who eventually put them all together and ran them out of town and he then went on 45 miles to the southwest to the little town of Berea and that's where we pick up the story today so let's look at acts 17 verse 10 as soon as it was night, the brother sent Paul and Silas away to Berea know what we know about this little town of Berea well Berea actually was a major city in the empire of Alexander the great. As a matter of fact, of Macedon, who was Alexander the great's father and the ruler of the Macedonian empire before Alexander Philip of Macedon's picture you see up on the screen is actually buried in the town of Berea.
This is where his tomb is at the time of the apostle Paul. Several centuries later, Berea has become a very prosperous commercial center. Let me show you why go back to the map. Remember, the main east-west thoroughfare through Greece.
The Roman road leading a nation way runs right through the town of Berea and as a result of this, a lot of commerce, a lot of trade a lot of money began going through this town and the result of that is that a very sizable Jewish community grew up in the town of Berea. Hey, you know, my people know I'm sent by well there was a sizable Jewish community here now. In fact, just as an FYI, there continued to be a very sizable Jewish community in Berea for the next 19 centuries, that is open to 1943 when the Nazis invaded Greece they deported virtually every Jewish person out of the town of Berea to concentration camps and today if you go to the modern town.
There is one Jewish family left in the town of Berea today one, but that in the way it used to be. It used to be a large century Jewish population that what happened and tell verse 10 continues on arriving there. Paul and Silas went into the Jewish synagogue. Now this is what we seen all along whatever Paul came to a tell if there was a Jewish synagogue if there was a community of Jewish people. That's the very first place. Paul went and archaeologists have actually found the location of this ancient synagogue. Let me show you.
There is a mosaic here wonderful mosaic that that is there with the Jewish people sitting and listening as the apostle Paul standing on the steps shares with them about Jesus Christ and these actual marble steps that Paul stood on have been found to me show you a picture of them. There was a mosaic that we were looking at the right and here are these steps the actual steps synagogue in the days of the apostle Paul and I've actually had the privilege to stand on these steps and share the word of God.
You talk about a moving experience to stand where Paul stood 2000 years ago, sharing the word of God.
It was an incredible experience to go some time with me over there will show you the steps but anyway wanted Paul go to the synagogue first. Well remember two reasons. Number one. Out of respect for the Jewish people's position as God's chosen people.
Number two because their knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul believed gave him a head start in the town.
In other words, with the Jewish people. He didn't have to explain creation monotheism. The fall of man. The promises of the Messiah mean the Jewish people already knew all of this from the Old Testament. All he had to do with Jewish people is to show them how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled every one of these Old Testament prophecies. However, there was a problem. The problem before Paul found in virtually every synagogue. He went to. And that is that so many of the Jewish people in the synagogue already had their mind made up.
They were even interested in the facts Paul was bringing them to put it bluntly, they were stubborn. They were obstinate they were pigheaded and no matter what Paul said, no matter how much agreement he could show them between the life of Jesus in the Old Testament they flat just didn't want to know, like the old saying my mind is made up, don't bother me with the facts. Now this this pink headedness among the Jewish people friends is not a new development for my race of people, you know what they say where there's two Jews. There's three opinions and only you know what I'm saying and what was the most common term that God used for us in the Old Testament. He called us stiffnecked so this was not a new development. This pink headedness.
But the wonderful thing I want you to see is that here in Berea.
Paul ran into a bunch of Jewish people that were radically different in a good way. Let's look verse 11. Now the Berea Jews were more noble character than the Thessalonian Jews were run Paul out of town for the day and Berea received Paul's message with great eagerness and they examined the Old Testament Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. The word here translated noble character literally means to be to have nobility of soul to be well mannered and with the Bible is telling us is that these Jewish people in Berea, they were teachable.
They were approachable. They were willing to consider Paul's claims about Jesus. Based on the merits of the case not based upon preconceived biases and prejudices and once Paul showed up with information about Jesus. Would you look in notice.
These Jewish people in Berea exercise the scientific method. Step one. Look what the Bible says it says they listened eagerly to Paul meaning without emotion without bias. They collected all the data that Paul was offering step number two.
They examine the Old Testament Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. In other words, they took all this data to their established truths source. The Old Testament Scriptures to see if what Paul was saying squared up to see if it stood up and finally step number three.
The Bible says they did this every day.
In other words their examination of what Paul said was rigorous it was thorough, they weren't interested in Paul's persuasiveness.
They didn't care about Paul's oratorical skill. Frankly, they weren't interested in what the Thessalonian Jews thought of Paul's message, nor did they care what the Thessalonian Jews might do to them if they believe Paul's message. The only thing these Berea and Jewish people cared about was truth. What does the Bible say about the Messiah and does Jesus need. That's all they cared about the princesses. The scientific method in all of its glory and look what happened as a result, verse 12 therefore the Bible says many of the Jews there and Berea believed that what the Bible is telling us here is the truth of mammoth proportions.
The Bible is telling us that any person, Jewish or Gentile.
Google examine the Scriptures with an honest mind and open mind and unbiased mind who will allow the facts to speak for themselves. Any person who will do that that person will end up believing Jesus is the Messiah. It's only place they can end up when they go to the Bible with an unbiased and open mind. Jesus himself said this, he said John chapter 5, verse 39 you diligently study the Scriptures. He said to the Jewish leaders because you think that by studying them you can get eternal life. And yet Jesus said it is these very Scriptures which testify of me.
Jesus said if you take off anywhere in the Bible with an open and honest mind.
The only place you can lay on the is believing that Jesus is who we claim to be that's own the only place you can possibly come down here. People often ask me lawn who led you to Christ and you know the answer is, there was a man 32 years ago. His name was Bob Eckhart who used to come to Chapel Hill North Carolina where I was a student every Saturday and in the winter of 1970 the spring of 71 and used to stand on the street corner and hand out religious material and try to talk to people about Christ, he did play a part in my coming to Christ, but he was not the one who led me to Christ you know after two hour conversation with him.
One Saturday, he said to me at the end he said now he said would you like to accept Jesus as your Messiah and give your life to him and I said absolutely not. I said I'm Jewish Jewish people do this I mean it was fun, talkative Jewish people do this. He said well he said them. Do you have a Bible and not not the time friends I was pushing drugs for 11 and I said to him, look at me.
I push drugs, what drug pusher had you ever met who owns the Bible. I said to him, he's okay, fair enough. He said, can I ask you favor I said well I don't know maybe he said if I give you a Bible when you read it. I said I don't know why should he said we were assigned to strike suggests I am he said well how in the world are you ever going to make a decision whether Jesus is who he said he is without employing the scientific method. He said to me this is true. He said you know a scientist gathers the evidence looks at the evidence against the true source and then makes an unbiased decision. I'm handing you the truth. Source how in the world are you ever going to make a decision if you don't read it.
I said okay. Guilty as charged. I hear what you're saying you're right. He said okay if I give you Bible we read I said, give me the Bible friends right here.
I have today. The Bible he gave me 32 years ago. I'm using it this morning.
This is the one he handed me out of the back of his truck and he said I want you to read July, so I took the Bible and I started reading at 1520 minutes every night and he said I is a little prayer I want to pray before you read and here's the prayer God. He says I want you to pray God, I'm not sure what to believe but I'm approaching the Bible with an open and unbiased attitude of Jesus is really who he said he is shown in ice to pray that little prayer is, it will not that time. Did you believe that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. No, that you believe Noah's flood really happened. No.
Did you believe God made the earth in six days. No jubilee fire came down from heaven on Sodom and Gomorrah. No, I don't believe any Expo, all I said was God in the what to believe, but my mind is open, show me of Jesus. As we said, I did that for a couple of months and friends.
The rest is history. I came to the same place. The Berea Jewish people came to, I came to the place of believe in the Jesus really was who he said he was at and and and you know something when people asked me who led you to Jesus Christ. Well, the answer is the Bible led me to Jesus Christ that's really what happened now as followers of Christ you know we so often think that the secret to come people coming to faith in Christ is our logic and our persuasiveness in our motivations. We we try to figure out how to answer every one of their objections.
We try to get them to read evidence that demands a verdict and we try to figure out just the right track to give up just the right tape to give them just the right we need to give them friends is nothing wrong with evidence that demands a verdict or tapes of tracks or CDs but could I remind you that the power is in the Scripture that the power is in the word of God and the best thing we could ever do for a person that seeking is to do what Bob Eckhart did to me to do what Paul did to these Jewish people in Berea and that is to get people into direct contact with the word of God with the Scriptures.
If you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way.
May I issue you the same challenge that this man issued me 32 years ago in Chapel Hill, if you will get a Bible and simply with an unbiased and open mind begin reading about Jesus Matthew Mark Luke John John the gospel accounts about Jesus.
I promise you if you approach it with an open mind you been the land exactly where I landed you in the land exactly were these Marine Jewish people landed you going to land believing in Jesus because it's the only place you can land that's where the Bible points is the Scriptures that speak of him. Well, it's close this out verse 12. What ends up happening not only the lauded Jewish people believe in Jesus, the Bible said, but also a number of Gentile man and prominent Gentile women believe that as well. We we see here that Paul established he was here for 23 months in Berea. He established a vibrant local church organ to hear more about in the future of the book of acts, and then as working to see next week, he's going to leave Berea now and head off to the intellectual and philosophical capital capital world city of Athens. When was Paul here Paul was in Berea in the spring and early summer of 51 A.D. 51 A.D. now that's as far as we want to go in our passage because it's time for our question and although our question so is everybody ready Yep okay Freddie, here we go nice allowed 123 yes. So what is a lawn is wonderful always wanted to see the steps in Berea. Thank you very much for showing them to me, but what difference is this me in my life. I'm to try to make that connection for you right now. Years ago when I was a very young follower of Christ.
I had this wonderful older woman in the Lord come up to me one day she pointed her finger at me and she said lawn. She said make it your goal to be a Berea in Christian not identify study in the world was to talk about but I went okay I will and and it was years later before I figured out with his lady was actually trying to tell me was when I was in seminary study the book of acts that I finally got it and I thought all I know now with this lady was trying to say she was trying to say lawn be a serious student of the word of God. The way these Jewish people in Berea were lawn be a man who saturates himself with with the Scripture. The way these Jewish people in Berea did lawn be a man who rigorously examines the Bible before you make a decision on something.
The way these people in Berea do and was this lady right on. I'm telling your friends. If you're here in your follower of Jesus Christ. God wants you and me both to be Berea and Christians. He wants us to diligently and daily and thoroughly examine the word of God. He wants us to take every-ism and every ontology that may come along. He wants us to take every new idea that people may throw at us. He wants us to take every crazy spiritual phenomenon that might happen in our world.
He wants us to take every moral choice that people call upon us to make and he wants us to decide about all of these things based on the written word of God.
He wants us to make to see every one of these issues through the lens of the written word of God and you know it's amazing to me how many billions of dollars are spent every year here in the United States of America. People looking to try to hit on the formula for successful living on the we have infomercials, astrology, self-help books, pop psychology books billions of dollars but listen to what God told Joshua he said Joshua do not let this book I've given you depart from your mouth meditate on it daily so that you may be careful to do everything written in it for the sin you will be prosperous and then you will have success wherever you go, friends. The truth is that the formula for successful living is available in the nightstand drawer of every hotel room in the United States of America is the VI BLA, but to access the successful formula for living. We gotta do more than have one of these that we keep on our bookshelves. We gotta be a Berea in Christian we got a surly and daily and rigorously begin the word of God pulling out the information that is central to successful living.
If were going to be able to do that now. I want to end today by talking to us about some of the ways in which the Bible is the basis for healthy, successful living in our world today. What are some of the things the Bible brings to us that enables us to live that kind of life I have five and there are more but I got five I want to suggest to my goal today is to motivate us and challenge us to be Berea and Christians to challenge us to be serious students of the word of God daily, thoroughly investigating the word of God because that's where the successful formula for living is one of the Bible do for us. Number one, it serves as a spiritual flashlight on the pathway of life.
Listen to what else all 119 says it says your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I got up not too long ago in the middle of the night to go use the bathroom is completely dark in my room and I was coming back to bed and and I stalled my Tito on the chair. Now I didn't say a bad word or anything but I mean to tell you that hurt. I sat down and I'm I'm in the dark feeling to see if the toes still even on my foot. You know that feeling and I'm Robin that crazy little thing in going over little child child and the thought occurred to me you know you stupid.
Why don't you just get a little flashlight and put it next to your bed if you had a flashlight.
You wouldn't done this to yourself. Well, that's true friends, may I say to you that walking through our world is a lot like walking through a dark room in the middle of the night and we need a flashlight. If we don't have one word, and not just of October were liable to completely kill ourselves doing it and what is the Bible tell us that it is our flashlight is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path to walk through this world and not stall Barto or worse, now Berea and Christian understands that and he or she uses the Bible to be there flashlight through this world.
Number two, the Bible. Second of all, helps us obey God. Psalm 119 verse 11 I have hidden your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you when we hide the word of God in our heart when we study it, meditate on it, memorize it, memorize one of the things it will do is it will help protect us from doing things making choices that are disobedient to God and get us into trouble.
You know I live over in Fairfax, your prosperity Avenue. I don't know if any of you know that Rove is a little 2 Lane Rd. that just goes up and down and up and down and up and down, and of the speed limit on this road is 30 miles an hour now friends. There is nobody living in Washington DC will drive 30 miles an hour but every once in a while on this road. Some Boy Scout will get on this road who wants to drive 30 miles an hour and I was on the road not too long ago and I was behind an Eagle Scout who was driving eight teen miles an hour down prosperity Avenue.
I live not, and I was so frustrated behind this guy. I needed a cold shower. I'm telling you, and I thought you know what if I stay behind this guy. I want to be 75 years old before I get to where I need to go. So there's a little place in the road. It's got a double yellow line down the whole road but you know there's a little place in this road. I know this road where I knew I could take this guy and so so I started thinking to myself okay if there's not a car coming at that moment man on the screen of Florida and I'm taken of God are going 80 miles an hour down his throat and I was about to do it when all of a sudden you know what came to my mind first Peter chapter 2. Keep your behavior.
Excellent, before unbelievers obey every ordinance of man for the Lord say and I went all show more on it now I was going to take this guy right here and now because of that I got to drive 80 miles an hour for the rest of this road, but you know what I God drove 18 miles an hour for the rest of the road and and and maybe I could pass the guy. Nothing would happen but the point I'm trying to make is because I had been in the word of God.
Memorize those verses the word of God in my heart you know what the Spirit of God brought them back and said don't shoot to that and you know what friends considering things that will might be much more damaging to our lives. In passing somebody across the double yellow line. If you have been a Berea Christian and put the word of God in your heart gonna bring it back to you and help you not to make those choices do number three the word of God third gives us comfort and encouragement in the struggles of life for Psalm 119, your promises, preserve my life. They are my comfort in suffering. The Bible says in first Thessalonians 418 Paul says therefore encourage each other with God's word. Hey, when you're as low as low can go and some of us have been there.
You know when you're as low as low can go all of the mealy mouth, pseudo-encouragement, this world dishes out the help of not one bit.
The only thing that helps when you're down at the bottom is what God says. The promises God makes the encouragement God sends us in the word of God. One of the wonderful things about the word of God is friends you can go so low, but that the word of God can't reach down there and bring your heart back up and encourage number four.
The Bible fourth helps us identify spiritual error so we stay away from it and listen to what Paul told Timothy he said Timothy evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being to see but you resist them by continuing in the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise closest Timothy you know there will be all kinds of spiritual phenomenon flying around in the world, some real and some not real. Some from God and not some not from God. How are you going to know which ones are which Paul says you continue in the Scripture, and they'll tell you which ones are from God, and which ones are you we had a lady a few years ago here wanted to become a member required by the church, a former member and when we were interviewing her something, interesting came out.
She informed us that she talked to dead people so everybody voted and thought this video of a good candidate for me to meet with so I met with his lady and I said so I understand you talk to dead people and she said that's right.
And I say will what are they tell you she's all kinds of interesting things that the well really I don't think I want to know but I sin them. You cannot be a member of McLean Bible church if you're talking to dead people.
She said why not.
She cannot come to church. I believe in Jesus. She said I even pray to Jesus before I talk to these dead people so she said if this experience I'm having is not from God, then how in the world you explain I Superman you don't cannot be honest with you, so I don't have to explain all I know. Deuteronomy 18 is that there shall not be found among you, anyone who calls up the dead, and ma'am, I don't have to explain your spiritual experience. God never called me to do that. All I have to do is compare it with the word of God and if it doesn't meet up. I rejected whether I can explain it or not, and friends you going to be people everywhere you go. Were going to say to you will will how do you explain the spiritual phenomenon and how do you explain that spiritual experience can I remind you, God never called on you to explain every spiritual thing that happens in this world only ever call on you and me to do is to know the word of God thoroughly and if something doesn't meet up we rejected whether we can explain it or not. We don't have to explain how are you going to know what to reject and what to keep a friend that's were being a Berea Christian makes all the difference.
Knowing the word of God.
Number five, and finally, and most importantly, the Bible helps us understand and know who God is.
Luke 24 and beginning with Moses and all the prophets, that is the whole Old Testament. Jesus explained to them what was said in the Scripture about himself. You see friends, the highest and grandest, the most exalted thing.
The word of God does for us is that it teaches us about the nature of the character the person, the power, the majesty and the mercy of Almighty God and why is this important. It's important because successful living is based upon living by faith trusting God instead of ourselves and the more we understand who God is, the more we understand his awesomeness, his power and his majesty, the easier it is to trust him and then to walk by faith, that these are just some of the things that the word of God does for us. But the point is that in every one of these cases God calls us to be a Berea Christian.
He calls us to have a thorough and deep understanding of the word of God. Remember God gave us the Bible to do a lot more than just get us into heaven, he gave us the Bible to be our gyroscope, our roadmap, our compass through life, a Berea Christian understands this in a Berea Christian uses the Bible this way.
Now I want us to bow our heads if you would enclose our eyes together. I want to give us about 20 seconds. Here if we need to to do business with God and here is a kind of business I want to challenge you to do if you don't have a time in your life that is deliberate that is set aside for the study. The consistent and regular study of the word of God than friends.
You know as well as I do that no matter what your intentions are that the events of the day take over and and this time just gets away from.
If you really want to be a Berea Christian, my friends, it means there's got to be that deliberate time in the word of God every day.
If you don't have that I want to give me 20 seconds to tell God that with his help. Starting tomorrow. This is a new habit that you're going to establish in your life.
So if you need to do that wanted to take a moment, do it right now for Jesus, thanks for talking to us today about being a Berea Christian. Thanks for the wonderful example of these Jewish people who examined the Scriptures every day to see what was true and father.
My prayer is that you would motivate everyone of us here who were followers of Christ to be Berea Christians to have a deliberate consistent time were we examine the word of God thoroughly and were we use it to be the roadmap for life that you established it to be. God help those people who pray that prayer here today to have the discipline to implement it in their life beginning tomorrow. Lord, grant that we might be people were people of the book because that's how we live the kind of successful and fulfilling life that you want us to live, change our lives because we were here today and study the word of God and we pray these things in Jesus name, amen