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Of More Noble Character

As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.
On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians,
for they received the message with great eagerness and
examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of
prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching
the Word of God at Berea, they went there too,
agitating the crowds and stirring them up.

Acts 17:10-13

In our Internet age, we are daily bombarded with all kinds of threats, trojans, viruses and worms. For security protections and precautions, we have to install some good antivirus and firewall softwares. After the installations, we regularly update the softwares by downloading the latest virus threat definitions and lists. Before reading any emails or clicking any pop-up ads and websites, we also do some due diligence to scan and verify them so that our computers will not be infected or be corrupted.

In our day-to-day transactions, we have this formal warning, "Caveat emptor," which means, "let the buyer beware." This is a warning to buyers to check for themselves things, which they intend to buy, so they cannot later hold the sellers responsible for the faulty conditions of the items purchased. The Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 extends the rights of consumers in this matter.

As we are diligent in the physical matters, we also need to be diligent in the spiritual matters. In Acts 17, we encounter a group of believers who were very diligent.

The Bereans were true seekers of God and His Word. When Paul, the authentic and authorised apostle, shared the Word of God with them, they did not just take the full dosage without checking the Holy Scriptures themselves.

Though the apostle Paul was fully endorsed by the Jerusalem Apostolic Council, they still found it necessary to examine his teachings and doctrines themselves to find out whether they were scripturally correct and true.

Paul was not disturbed or perturbed by their attitudes. In fact, Paul highly regarded them, and commended them for their excellent efforts. These Berean believers were not overly critical or suspicious. In fact, they were of more noble character than the Thessalonians.

This was attributed not due to their social and economical status. It was about the nobility of their hearts and attitudes towards the preaching of God’s Word. These Bereans had love and reverence for the Holy Scriptures. Their minds were not hardened by religious traditions and customs, or doctrinal and philosophical opinions.

The Bereans were open to the expositions of the Scriptures They had the readiness of mind to receive the teachings of Paul. They were not sleeping or dozing off when the apostle shared. They were hungry and thirsty for the pure Word of God. And their hunger and thirst were satisfied! They did not ignore the Word. They did not try to find fault with the preacher. They did not argue with the Word of God. Their minds were also not wandering in ten thousand directions. They listened to Paul attentively, and took notes eagerly as Paul delivered the message.

They were determined to know the truth of God. They simply received the Word! When they went home, they searched the Scriptures. As diligent students of the Word, they daily searched and checked the Bible to find the truth for themselves. As a result, they found salvation in Christ. They not only confirmed the teachings of Paul, but also increased in faith, understanding, knowledge and wisdom.

These noble Bereans had set a great example for us to follow. They received the Word of God with all readiness of mind. Nothing delights a preacher more than the privilege of preaching to a people who are ready and eager to hear the teachings, and also who are willing to do some studies themselves to find out more. The Bereans wanted to seek God themselves about those issues at hand. They also had the Holy Spirit living within them as their Helper and Teacher:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit,
Whom the Father will send in My name,
He will teach you all things,
and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26)

Today, we are living in the age where false teachers and prophets abound. Some of these preachers are ministering in our local churches and pulpits. There is also a great influx of their books, videos, audio tapes and CDs in our homes. Many of their materials are easily accessible in the Internet. Many of their teachings have attracted the attention of gullible followers, who are constantly chasing after new prophetic utterances and insights, fresh views of the Scriptures and the latest powers of God.

We are truly living in the era of disposable handphones. Every day, there are new models with additional latest gadgets and features. The old are thrown away, and the new are embraced.

This is what the LORD says:
"Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, 'We will not walk in it.' " (Jeremiah 6:16)

The main reason, why so many of these false teachers and prophets exist, is because many of us are not seeking the LORD ourselves. We have taken the full face value of the new teachings without searching the Holy Bible ourselves.

We only desire to hear the interesting and exciting things that others are saying about God. Basically, we are disobeying the tenth commandment, which is against covetousness (Exodus 20:17). We are coveting others’ things, giftings, powers, anointings, experiences and ministries!

Many of these false teachers and prophets are teaching their own revelations, dreams and visions without any scriptural basis. The only way to know and expose them is to check them in the light of the Holy Word of God. When they are exposed, they are found to be unoriginal and very erroneous.

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
"Do not listen to the words of the prophets
who prophesy to you.
They make you worthless;
They speak a vision of their own heart,
Not from the mouth of the LORD. They continually say to those who despise Me,
'The LORD has said, "You shall have peace" ';
And to everyone who walks
according to the dictates of his own heart,
they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.' " (Jeremiah 23:16-17)

Some of the common characteristics of these false teachers and prophets are their tendencies towards:

  • Over-dramatization
  • Over-exaggeration
  • Over-emotionalism
  • Over-hysteria

We should be exceptionally careful with them. Some of them actually think that their teachings are irrefutable beyond any doubt. Some of them have the audacity to claim that to check or verify them is to go against the LORD Himself. They can be doctrinally dangerous, always treading on marginal issues and trivialities!

Just because we are told in the church - “Do not judge”,  “Touch not the Lord’s anointed, “You have a critical spirit if you do not join in”, etc, etc. This is the very reason why Christians are often the most gullible and easily deceived.

We need to realize that the Bible says to test the spirits and warns very strongly that the last days will be a time of seducing spirits and great deception. So if we don’t step out and be vigilant, how can we become more alert to these things?

As many false prophets and teachers have based their teachings on their own self-acclaimed experiences, dreams and visions, all of these self-proclamations need to be examined and investigated. Some of their theological understanding and interpretations of the Holy Scriptures are bizarre beyond comprehension.

Some of them have caused much confusions and divisions in the Body of Christ especially when their prophecies and predictions did not come true. As a result, very often, they have also brought much reproach to the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is therefore of great importance that we begin to study the Scriptures ourselves, and check them out. It is all right to check the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

Paul, the true apostle of God, was pleased when the Bereans checked him out whether he was actually sharing the truth. True gold is unafraid of fire. In fact, it become purer and of greater value after the tests! Such investigation into the Word of God is commendable and encouraged.

False prophets are those who falsely claim:

  • to utter revelations that come from God;
  • to foretell future events; and
  • to have God's power to produce miracles, signs, and wonders.

In the Bible, false prophets fell into three general categories:

  • those who worshipped false gods and served idols;
  • those who falsely claimed to receive messages from the Lord; and
  • those who wandered from the truth and ceased to be true prophets.

A recurring characteristic of the false prophets is that they often are found in the employment of supernatural powers, and that they are always speaking positive, pleasing and flattering words to their listeners.

Our LORD Jesus had warned us about them:

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.(Matthew 7:15-16)

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:11-13)

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24)

The apostle Paul also warned us against false teachers in Galatians 1:6-12:

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One Who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."

Paul also exhorted his beloved disciple, Timothy, to be a diligent student of the Word:

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness." (2 Timothy 2:15-16))

Finally, there was an interesting account in 2 Chronicles 15:12-15 about seeking the LORD:

Then they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; and whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. Then they took an oath before the LORD with a loud voice, with shouting and trumpets and rams' horns. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around.

Wow! Whoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. This was how serious the people of God were about seeking God themselves.

May we be of more noble character as the Bereans. May all of us seek the LORD ourselves and live (Amos 5:6)!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD...(Jeremiah 29:11-14)

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Written on:
6 October 2004