First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday, September 12, 2021)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“Berea: A Scripture-Examining Church!”
Psalm 11 9:97-104; Acts 17:10-12
Our journey in the book of Acts this morning takes us to Acts chapter 17. Today we will get to witness the work of the gospel in a place named Berea. Berea was located about 43 miles southwest of Thessalonica in the province of Macedonia. If you’re wondering if the city does exist today, in fact it does and it’s a small city known as “Veria” in northern Greece. The journey from Thessalonica to Berea would have taken two days on foot.
Paul arrived in Berea and preached the gospel there after he had preached in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10). The first part of Acts 17 gives us the account of Paul preaching the gospel to the Thessalonians. In Acts 17, therefore, we have before us two examples of how the message of truth is not only perceived, but how it is also received. Our Scripture passage this morning forces us to ask questions about our own willingness and our own eagerness to know the truth. Not only that, but it also invites us to examine our readiness to rearrange our lives according to our perception of the truth of the gospel.
In Acts 17:11, Luke tells us, “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.” The Bereans were better than, superior to, and more noble than the Thessalonians. The book of Acts invites us to compare the Bereans to the Thessalonians. Are we like the Thessalonians or like the Bereans? What makes a great Church? What makes a better congregation? What makes a good Christian?
Two things that I would like to underscore this morning. The first has to do with the manner through which the Bereans received the Word; and the second has to do with the importance of putting the Word into practice.
First: Receiving the Word
How did the Bereans receive the gospel? Acts 17:11state, “they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” They received the message with great eagerness. No yawning on their part while Paul preached. No glancing at their watches wondering when he would be done. No planning of the day or the week or of Sunday dinner during the sermon. No day-dreaming or short attention spans. Like students eager to learn, they leaned forward in their seats. They listened. The probably took notes. They were attentive and quiet.
But there is more. They not only received Paul’s message about Christ with great eagerness, but they also “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” They thoroughly examined the Scriptures. In Greek, the word “examined” means “to investigate as in a court of law.” The Bereans were not casually handling the Word of God. They were seriously studying it. Just like a good lawyer takes the statements of witness and compares them to the facts of the case, so the Bereans took Paul’s message and compared it the Old Testament Scriptures. That type of study takes diligence and discipline.
Everyday they came to hear Paul speak about Jesus. Not just once a week. Not just twice a week. But every day. They were eager listeners. They were every preacher’s dream congregation if you would say.
Second: Putting the Word into Practice
Luke continues to say these words in Acts 17:12, “As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” I want you to notice that the work of the Bereans did not end with finding the truth, for Luke tells us in verse 12, “Many of them therefore believed.”
So even if we become a church characterized by careful examination of the Scriptures, we need to take one more step. We must also be “doers of the word” as James1:22 reminds us. In James 1:22, the apostle James says that we “delude” ourselves if we stop short of doing what we believe. He continues to say that the one who does not do what the word says, “is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, and after looking at himself and going away, immediately forgets what he looks like” James 1:23, 24.
I once read of a Minister named Donald who came home from church a little sooner than usual, and so his wife inquired, “Donald, is that you? Is the sermon all done?” “No, no, honey,” he replied, “it is all said, but it has not yet begun to be done.” I implore you brothers and sisters not to leave undone what has been set before you this morning. Let us commit to examining daily what God says in His Word. And let us commit to being doers according to what we find therein.
Friends, the Bereans saw Scripture as something that deserved their attention. It merited their time and effort. They examined it daily. They were not skimming; they were searching. They came to the Bible and kept coming back. I love the words of Psalm 119 “Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long … How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” Is there a frequency and consistency to your spiritual consumption? We will not make progress in godliness without persistence in God’s word. We will not make progress in godliness without putting into practice what we have been taught. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
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