Summary: “Berean” is a popular name for churches. Why is that? The Bereans exemplified some of the most noble characteristics any group of people could ever have.
The Path to Christian Nobility
June 4, 2017
TEXT: Acts 17:10-12 - “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”
Illus. - Americans don’t cotton too well to the idea of nobility. When we declared independence from England in 1776, we embraced a whole new idea---the idea that “all men are created equal.” This idea is deeply etched in the American psyche and we reject the idea of privilege based on heredity, the basis for the ancient concept of nobility.
But did you know that there is a path to Christian nobility? In verse 11 of our text, Luke described the believers of Berea as “noble.” - “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica…”
I looked up the Greek word this is translated from eugenes (Strong’s #2104), and it means, “well born, i.e. (literally) high in rank.” In this verse, he’s saying that compared to the Thessalonian thugs in verses 1-9 who caused a riot and assaulted Jason’s house, these Bereans were noble by comparison. They were more noble acting, or noble-minded, which in both Greek and English is the second meaning of “noble”---the idea of acing in a fair way without malice or suspicion.
What was it that these Bereans did that caused Paul to describe them this way? How can you and I be considered noble in God’s eyes?---By responding to God’s Word the way they did.
Our text tells us three ways to respond to the preaching of God’s Word. If you’ll do these three things whenever you hear God’s Word preached---like the Bereans, you too can earn the distinction of Christian nobility Let’s look at three noble ways to respond to the preaching of the Bible---and become a Berean:
I. FIRST, LISTEN WITH AN OPEN MIND - Verses 11 - “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind…”
The Greek word translated readiness here means “eagerness, willingness, readiness.” They did not come to hear what Paul had to say with presuppositions that would be barriers to the receiving truth. They were willing to hear what he had to say with an open mind.
Many people we talk to begin with prejudices and biases that make them more like the Thessalonian thugs than the Bible-believing Bereans. They’re closed-minded. They won’t even listen to you because their mind is already made up. They don’t WANT to accept anything the Bible has to say.
For instance, some people summarily reject Christianity out-of-hand because they refuse to entertain even the remotest possibility that this universe and all life did not evolve into existence by chance. In his newsletter, Just Thinking, Ravi Zacharias, a PhD who regularly lectures in defense of Christianity at such places as Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale universities, tells about how in the last 2-3 decades there has been an steady stream of articles, papers and books written that has dealt distressing blows to the theory of evolution---and let’s not forget that it IS only a theory.
Many of these who are questioning evolution are not themselves Christians, just open-minded scientists who have just come to the conclusion that the theory of unguided evolution has major problems. Listen to what Dr. Zacharias says:
…Reason magazine in its July 1997 issue pointed out that there is a sophisticated lineup of thinkers now questioning Darwinism.
Take, for example, professor Michael Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box. Behe is Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania...Behe’s book basically challenges the naturalist into recognizing that biochemical evolution is impossible. In just one of the many outstanding chapters he illustrates his point by describing the chemical changes that are set in motion to generate sight. From the moment a photon hits the retina to the end result of an imbalance of charge that causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain, resulting in sight, a series of chemical reactions have taken place that in evolution’s mechanism would have been impossible. His bottom-line argument is this: The irreducible complexity of human cells meets Darwin’s test of what it would take to prove Darwinism false.
How does the scientific community react to this? One scientist sitting next to me at a meeting said, “Give us time; we will find an answer.” If that was not a betrayal of bigotry in its determination to find materialistic answers at all costs, I do not know what is. If the theist [a theist is someone who believes in God] uttered such hopes were theism to face such an impossible explanation, he or she would be mocked with the same venom that Darrow spewed upon William Jennings Bryan in the infamous Scopes trial.…