Becoming Bereans

This post is part of the teaching series Truth Un-Mixed.  If you are new to this series I encourage you to start from the beginning and read all the way through as the teachings build one upon the other.  To Find all the posts in the series click here for the Table of Contents.  May you be blessed by His Truth alone!

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In To Mix or Not to Mix we discovered the importance of defining truth based upon the Word of God alone. And that in order to remain recognizable as His children we are not to mix His words with anything else. If we desire to establish a solid foundation of truth in our lives then we must first become well acquainted with what His word says in its entirety, in short we need to become like the Bereans in Paul’s day. We need to become committed to seeking, searching, approving, and testing the whole of scripture.

The Bereans were Jews living in Berea (a province of Rome at that time) which was located in southwestern Macedonia. They have become infamous in the bible for their study of the scriptures. In fact, many protestant churches and groups still use their name today for this reason. When Paul, Silas, and Timothy went into the synagogue to preach the news of Jesus their Messiah, the Bereans were eager to hear and receive their message. But what distinguished them from others was their zeal and love of God’s word. It was out of this love and respect that they would search the scriptures for proof that what Paul was teaching was true. They verified and tested the words of their teachers through scripture and we are told that they did this daily.

The question we must then ask is what scriptures were they using to measure and approve Paul’s writings by? They were using the Old Testament scriptures because these were the only scriptures they had. In fact, they did not even have the New Testament during the time that Paul was alive because it was being written in forms of letters to various congregations of Jews scattered throughout the nations. So every single time you hear the word scripture or scriptures in the New Testament it is referring in fact to the Old Testament, namely the Torah of Moses, the prophets, and the writings. It was through this lens or understanding that all of the apostles teachings and writings were understood by the new testament believers.

So to become true Bereans, we must first evaluate how we study God’s word. Have we divided up His words into sections that we deem relevant to our lives and those that we think are not? Have we allowed the foundation laid in the beginning of scripture to form and evaluate our understand of the latter writings in it like the Bereans did? These questions are important as we seek to build our foundation upon the whole word of God, from Genesis to Revelation. But, in order to do this we must be also be willing to put our time where our faith is.

The Bereans searched the scriptures daily. The Bereans didn’t just have a quiet time, or read a devotional, or read their scripture for the day, they searched the scriptures. They went hunting with a purpose. This was not a filler, or an appetizer, this was their main course. They realized that true nourishment was only found in and through the Words of God. And so if we are going to become unshakable in the days ahead we must also be willing to see this truth and in response to it, reorder our lives. We must prioritize the reading of, searching through, meditating on, and the teaching of the scriptures. Which will, by default de-prioritize other activities. We can’t have it all. We can’t run ourselves ragged, shuffle our kids to every activity under the sun and then squeeze in a quick prayer before bed and a church service on the weekend and be deceived into thinking that we are standing on solid ground. Because when the real shaking comes no one will be able to stand, if not for the word of God alone. Because He is His word, and to know Him is to know His word.

He tells us in John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

And in Psalm 40:7 and Hebrews 10:7 He says, “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me…”

We see here that He, or Jesus, is found in the VOLUME of the book, not just the New Testament. In fact, and this is an entirely different study altogether, but Jesus (or Yeshua/Salvation in Hebrew) is manifested all throughout the Old Testament and has been present forever as he stated above in John 1:1.

So what does this mean for us? It means that there is one continuous story that began before the foundation of the world, continued on through creation, including the past and present age, and will continue on forever with the giving of eternal life to His children. His word then, must establish this continuum since through it’s history (or His Story) is told. The beginning in Genesis and the end in Revelation must all be connected and tell one story that connects everything from the beginning to the end. And if there is a continuous story line, the main characters, the supporting roles, and the story itself must all remain consistent throughout, correct?

In a play the first act sets up the second. It lays the ground work and offers foreshadowing of what is to come. The actors do not change at intermission, the story line does not change, and the heroine and hero do not change. No, they remain the same positioned to fulfill their final objective, the one that was introduced to the audience in Act 1. In Act 2 they finish what they began in the opening scenes. And in the end, ALL the actors (small and great alike) come out and take their final bow TOGETHER as one cast, one crew, and the culmination of one beautiful story. It is the same with the scriptures.

There is not OLD and NEW. There is Act 1 and Act 2. The actors are not new. God did not finish with Israel in Act 1, kill them off, and bring in a whole new set of people called the church in Act 2. Rather, in the second act more characters are added to the story playing supporting roles to the main character Israel who is waiting backstage poised to re-enter the story in the end of the final Act as the heroine from the beginning usually does. It is one story in which we are an integral part of and it is told throughout the whole volume of the Word of God.

In Matthew 4:4 Jesus says “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” He begins that statement with, “It is written”, so He is quoting something here that was already written. So where was it originally written? It was written in Deuteronomy 8:3 when God was admonishing the Israelites to remember Him when they entered the promised land He was giving them. He was recalling the times that He had humbled them in the wilderness with physical hunger and then provided manna for food and sustenance. He did this to teach them a spiritual principle through a physical expression. He wanted to be their sustenance, their food, their bread of life. So He caused their stomachs to hunger and then miraculously provided food for them so that they would learn a powerful spiritual truth through this physical need.

So, back to Matthew… Jesus was using the words of His Father from Act 1 and applying them to the current players in Act 2. He was reminding them that just like the Israelites, they must position themselves to live by EVERY WORD of God, not just a select few. Also in Matthew, Jesus uses the words of His Father to wage war against Satan when He was being tempted in the wilderness. These scriptures were His shield and sword. But wait, what scriptures was He using? Was He quoting from Matthew or Acts or Corinthians? No, he was quoting His Father’s words from Act 1, showing us the power and relevance of those words to our lives in Act 2. Like we talked about previously, the first assembly of believers only had the script from Act 1 or the Old Testament as we call it.

Growing up in Christendom I was taught that the Old Testament is the “old law”,that it was only for the Jews, and that it had been done away with by Jesus’s death on the cross. If this is true, then why was He using the very thing He came to abolish as a sword against Satan? Furthermore why would He tell us, the new testament believers, to live on EVERY WORD that proceeds from the mouth of God if many of those words are no longer relevant or important to us because He had come to do away with them? Let’s look at a few more scriptures that talk about this.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5

Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Psalms 119:39

I am the LORD, I change not. Malachi 3:6

If He does not change, and He is His word, then it is logical to conclude that His word can not change either. And if His word does not change, than what He gave to the Israelites thousands of years ago He also gave to you and me, because it is unchanging and as relevant now as it was thousands of years ago when He spoke it on Mount Sinai.

Did you know that over 10% of the New Testament texts are quotations or direct illusions from the Old Testament scriptures? In fact some scholars have found as many as 4,105 references to the Old Testament in the New Testament Scriptures.  And when carefully evaluated by scripture itself, ALL of them confirm and reaffirm what is contained there in.  Those are staggering numbers seeing as how the Old Testament already composes about ¾ of the bible as a whole in the first place! That is a lot of the bible that the characters of Act 2 may have not studied intently, A LOT of God we may be unfamiliar with, A LOT of power we may be missing out on, and A LOT of nourishment we could be starving for. Which means we have A LOT of room to grow if we are going to become unshakable.

This is a wake up call for all of us. We need the WHOLE COUNSEL of the word of God. We need to be Bereans and seek out the end from the beginning. There is a love story that begins in Genesis and culminates in Revelation and we are invited to be a part of it! We are a part of the story, but it is about so much more than just us. If we pluck out verses and read the bible as a self-help manual, we miss out on so much of our history and our future with Him. The invitation of salvation is to enter into His story, the whole story, not just a part of it. It is the greatest love story ever told and you and I are appearing on the stage in Act 2 for such a time as this.

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