There is a neat line in the 17th chapter of Acts: “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.”
The Bereans are of a more noble character, says the Bible, not by nature, for we are all dead in sin and enemies of God by nature. But as souls who have already been brought to believe in Christ, they are further advanced in their Spirit-wrought sanctification. God the Holy Spirit has brought them to the point where they receive the message with great eagerness.
The Bereans examine the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul says is true. The Bereans know they have both the right and the responsibility to study the Scriptures. Bible study is not just for religious professionals.
“Search the Scriptures!” said Jesus. “They testify of Me!” The central message of the Bible is that God Himself stepped into our world and became one of us. He carried away the burden of our guilt and cooled our burning shame in the blood of His cross. He rose from the dead to defuse death itself. He ascended on high that He might be with us always. He has promised to come again – to take us with Him. He invites us to believe this.
He has written all of this down in a book. He wants us to examine this book, to learn how to apply this book to our own hearts – to immunize us against false teachings – to inoculate us against this virus of wanting Jesus to be a therapist, a life-coach, a financial advisor, a politician, an aerobics instructor – instead of the Savior of sinners who binds up the brokenhearted.
Do we sometimes see how far from God we have drifted – how strange the words of the Bible sound to our ears? Have we been too programmed by the world’s relentless propaganda that all roads lead to God, that we are good enough to earn our own way, that pure doctrine is for dinosaurs, that we are the accidents of evolution, that man, not God, defines right and wrong, that Jesus Christ is a dead hero rather than a living Lord? Have we had our hearts and brains washed so we can’t do a thing with them?
Then let us go BACK TO THE BIBLE. Don’t think of Bible reading as something only for the super pious, or the overly intellectual. Don’t think of it as one more added obligation to your already crazy daily schedule. It’s the opposite of that. It’s the real food for which your heart is hankering. It’s the real water for which your soul has been thirsting. It’s the real rest for which your tired mind has been longing. You’re hungry, thirsty, tired. Take time to eat, drink, rest. Sit and slowly chew on a chapter each day, or meditate on half a chapter a day. Read it when you feel like it. Read it especially when you don’t feel like it. Set aside 15 minutes each day. Turn off the TV. Put down the smart phone. Or if you love being techy – use the Bible app ON your smart phone. Don’t like reading? Did you know you can LISTEN to the Bible on your smart phone?
Start with a chapter of one of the Gospels each day, or a chapter of Genesis, or a Psalm each evening. It may take a while, but you will develop a taste for it. It is the Holy Spirit’s tool by which He wants to overhaul and maintain these hearts of ours. And you shall, by God’s grace, wonder at what kind of poor life you once put up with before you started to examine the Scriptures each day like the Bereans. Are we looking for a real renewal in our weary congregation or in our own worn out lives? We need nothing new. We need to go back to what we have always had – BACK TO THE BIBLE.