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Eagerly Examining the Truth

Acts 17:10-15
As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 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. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible. (NIVUK)

Paul's ministry in Macedonia was fruitful but also painful. When he preached about Jesus, some were stirred to repentance and faith; others to jealousy and anger. In Philippi and Thessalonica, people believed in Jesus and churches were planted. But in both cities jealous people, who were frightened of losing what they had (money or religious power), stirred up a riot in an attempt to force the authorities into silencing the gospel by punishing Paul and his team. Although the messengers had to move on, the gospel message continued to build up the believers and attract more people to trust in Jesus.

It was the same in Berea. But there, the Jews did not simply reject the teaching about Jesus the Messiah. They wanted to examine it carefully, cross referencing the events of Christ's life, death and resurrection with the Old Testament prophecies. They were excited as they worked together to uncover the truth. And many people were convinced that Paul's message about Jesus the Saviour-Messiah exactly matched what had been written hundreds of years previously. When the gospel message is checked against the Word of God (Romans 10:17) it is found to be true.

Others had made up their mind without any examination of the facts. The gospel was dismissed: they did not even bother to check it out. Although they were appointed to be the people through whom the Messiah was revealed to the world, they ignored Him and tried to eliminate His messengers (John 1:10-11): just as others had done with Jesus (John 15:20-21). Nevertheless, many did believe in Him and another church was planted before the apostolic team was moved on in stages. That too was all God's plan; to carry the gospel forwards on a tidal wave of persecution (Acts 11:19).

True gospel ministry must be focussed on Jesus, who He is and why He came; and what He achieved by His death and resurrection. That message, if faithfully presented, will produce a reaction – to exclude Jesus and His messengers, or to examine the message. Wise believers will welcome questions about Jesus, and be willing to be rebuffed. And yet we are often frightened of questions, even though they are the keys to unlocking the truth. We cannot know everything in the Bible, but that does not mean there is no answer to an apparently difficult question. So encourage people you know to examine the gospel (www.crosscheck.org.uk), welcome questions, and when you do not know the answer, find a Bible-soaked believer who does. Why not work through Truth Unlocked with your friend?

God of truth. Thank You for the internal logical integrity which runs through the Bible. Forgive me when I get frightened by questions, fearing that if I do not know all the answers I will discredit Jesus or myself. Please help me to welcome questions and be like the Bereans in examining Your Word to unlock the truth. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams