‘Now these Jews [from Berea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if they were so.’ (Acts 17:11).
This is one of my favourite verses when it comes to preaching and how it should be received. I can even say that it is through imitation (though not deliberately, because I don’t think I’d noticed these verses at the time) that eventually led me to leave the church I grew up in to join the Presbyterian Church. The Word of God was presented to me so clearly at Uni that I could see my church wasn’t teaching God’s Word well at all.
Have you ever considered how else the actions of the Bereans could have been interpreted? Paul was an apostle. He’d seen the light on the road to Damascus, he’d heard the voice, and he had obeyed. Imagine the attitude that could have been taken against the Bereans who tested all he said, not accepting them automatically. They could have been called proud, stubborn!
But instead they are commended. They treasured God’s Word and knew that anything that did not line up with it was false. They saw that Paul’s message lined up and was correct, and ‘many of them therefore believed’ (Acts 17:12).
This evening I am going to be ordained as a Presbyterian minister. So, how should your response to my preaching change? Should you simply accept what I say as God’s word? Of course not! If the Bereans were commended for testing Paul, who am I not to be tested?! We should all test everything – if it aligns with God’s word, we accept it; if it doesn’t, we reject. Continue to treasure God’s Word, humbly submit to it, and examine everything, like the noble Bereans.