Thought For The Day

by lora on November 27, 2007

I wrote this post a little over a year ago, as it fits in with what I have been writing about recently, I wanted to share it again. I have more thoughts along this line, and will write about them in the next few days. I’m heading out the door to go Christmas shopping.

Be Like a Berean

As of late, I have been working through several spiritual issues. I find it amazing that when I’m contemplating and praying about an issue how many times God will place one thing after another in my path on that very topic. In my scripture reading the last few days, the Lord has really placed a few things on my heart I would like to share.

For the past 3 ½ years, our family’s main focus has been evangelism. Through this rough and rocky journey God has taught us many things regarding our perceptions and beliefs about what His Word says. One of the things I have come to realize is how often people interpret scripture based on their culture and the traditions they have been raised in as opposed to taking the scriptures at face value and basing their interpretation on the scriptures alone. For example, having been in Southern Baptist churches most of my adult life I have observed how the scriptures are often interpreted in light of the Baptist Faith & Message. This is not something limited to the SBC–it appears to be the case across the board. I believe this is one of the contributing factors of the problems within the church today. Churches spend more time studying books and little time studying the Bible. A prime example of this would be The Purpose Driven Life. That book has little to do with the scriptures and more to do with Rick Warren’s twisting of them. He does what is commonly done in church literature. Whole chapters will be studied on one verse when they should be studying whole chapters of scripture instead. You cannot get a complete understanding of a thought trying to be conveyed by only taking one verse. Try doing that with this article. Take just one sentence and try to understand the meaning of what I’m trying to get across. You can’t do it…and only reading one verse out of context is what leads to gross misinterpretation. Yet that is how everything from sermons to Sunday School is taught. Many Christians today are basing their beliefs on what someone, whether it be Rick Warren or their Sunday School teacher, has told them.

Many people believe that they are duty and honor bound to their pastor. They are also told (yes, it’s often said, not just implied) that they should blindly follow everything he says. We have seen circumstances where they will say from the pulpit…”be as the Bereans, don’t believe it just because we say it.” Yet, if you interpret the scriptures differently and don’t agree with them, you are then labeled an apostate. It is considered near heresy to some if you question the pastor’s teaching. It has been perpetrated on the church that pastors are “holier” than mere lay people and that they have been given some “special” ability to interpret the scriptures. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest tools Satan has used to gain a very strong foothold in the church. God has given each and every believer the Holy Spirit which will comfort us, teach us and guide us. We need no man to do this for us. We have been told that we can’t understand the scriptures unless we have a teacher, based on Acts 8:31. This is the passage where the Ethiopian Eunuch tells Philip he can’t understand the scriptures unless he is taught. The huge difference is that at that point, the Eunuch wasn’t saved and didn’t have the Holy Spirit to teach him. If you read on you will see that God took Philip away after the Eunuch was saved, and left him with no teacher other than the Holy Spirit. There are many other examples of this throughout the New Testament. If you will look at Galatians 1:15-16, this is what Paul says about himself: “But when it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace, To reveal His Son in me that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:”. Paul was taught by none other than God, and this wasn’t just for a short period until he could get to Jerusalem; this was for 3 years (v.18). Paul was no greater or any less than I am. He was a sinner just like me, and if God could teach him, why can’t he teach me? The only way He can’t is if I turn from hearing Him.

We are each responsible for our interpretation of the scriptures and for the ability to defend our faith. How can we do that if we haven’t studied the scriptures and decided for ourselves what we believe? In Acts 17:10-11 we have the perfect example of what we should do:

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily {to see} whether these things were so.

We see that the Bereans received what Paul and Silas had to say eagerly, but they showed their wisdom by searching the scriptures to see if what they were saying was true. 1 Thes. 5:20-21 tells us not to despise prophesies-but we are to test everything. Are we living up to that responsibility if we don’t question what we read and hear? In 1 John 4:1 we are admonished to not believe everything we are told because there are many false prophets. Many people seem to believe that anyone who mentions the name of Jesus or God must be a Christian. An entertainer or athlete that thanks God for their success must be a Christian because they mentioned God. In Matthew 7: 13- 27 we are told some ways to distinguish true from false “Christians”.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You by their fruits you will know them.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

This shows us that the gate or way to Christ is narrow and many will not follow it. It also tells us of many false prophets who will come in sheep’s clothing, like ravenous wolves. Picture that… coming to destroy us. And that’s exactly what is happening to God’s Word by so many “pastors”. The people don’t know God’s word well enough to know when they are being deceived. Satan doesn’t usually tell the big whopper lies; we could probably (though not always) spot those. He will come in with something that’s 75% truth and 25% lie and that’s where people fall. Christ tells us that there will be many who call on Him but He will say to many “Depart from me, I never knew you”. That is hard to really contemplate when you think about it. There will be many who will get to judgment and think they have done the Lord’s work, only to find they have been deceived. One of the things I pray for regularly is wisdom so that I won’t be deceived. What a terrible day it will be for those who are told to depart–for eternity–no second chances. In verse 24 we are told how to be wise, and it tells us we will be wise if we are always looking for the truth and searching it out.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a skeptic. I will not endorse or recommend someone I don’t trust. I may say, “This was a good sermon, but I can’t vouch for anything past that.” I have called friends in a panic after recommending a book carelessly to only find out the heresy in it later. I almost always give a disclaimer when recommending a book. So if you see me recommend something/someone here, know that I firmly believe what they say, and if I turn out to be wrong, I’ll say so. In Gal 1:6-9 Paul addresses those who proclaim a false gospel, we can see by his words that it isn’t something to be taken lightly.

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

Every person who proclaims a false gospel will answer to God for it (I will address the false gospel in another post). Paul did not mince words on this subject and ignorance will not be an excuse before God. He has given us the tools to study and learn now more than at any other time in history. We are so blessed to have the internet and all of its study resources right at our fingertips. One of my favorite online tools is www.searchgodsword.org. I only have to type in the word I’m looking for and it will find it for me. It has commentaries, dictionaries, and most any other tool you could need, and it’s free. God has been convicting me of the fact that we truly have no excuse for not knowing His Word and applying it to our lives. Why is it that we will spend hours reading a book about homeschooling or gardening, but think reading 3 or 4 verses a day is all we need to read of God’s Word? I challenge you to get some study tools and a good study Bible (my favorite is the MacArthur Study Bible) and be like a Berean!

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