OK, a Berean wouldn’t have actually had a pew. And they certainly didn’t have individual copies of complete Bibles. Nor did they have .79 notebooks from the supermarket. But I’m convinced that if you transported a Berean into our 21st century setting they would use their notebooks at the gathered assembly far more than they would use their Bibles.
So, be a good Berean and see if I’m right.
A Berean is one akin to those described in Acts 17:10-15. There we read that these noble Jews “received the word with all eagerness” as they were “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” In other words they didn’t simply receive the missionaries’ words just because they said them, they dug into the Scriptures. But that’s not really the highlight of the passage. What marked the Bereans apart from the Jews in Thessalonica wasn’t merely that they examined the Scriptures. It was that, unlike those in Thessalonica, they eagerly received the Word.
And yet almost every time I read an article or hear a talk on being a good Berean the majority of the focus is on the examining. “Good Bereans examine what is said by the Scriptures.” Yes, absolutely. But good Bereans cannot examine without first eagerly receiving. And that is why I say I believe if these dear saints were transported to the 21st century they’d be delighted not only to have printed Bibles but also those .79 notebooks. They wouldn’t just have tattered pages on their Bibles. They would have leaf upon leaf of paper filled with notes from eagerly receiving the word.
What Luke is highlighting here in the work among the Bereans isn’t simply their faithfulness in fact checking. This isn’t an advertisement for Snopes, it’s an advertisement for the Spirit; the Spirit who opens up blind eyes and creates an eagerness (an excitement) to hear this wonderful news about Jesus. This is what the gospel does. It creates an optimism grounded in love that believes and hopes deeply. The Spirit causes the renewed heart to leap for joy at even bread crumbs left by Jesus.
A Berean does what he/she does because the Spirit has created within them a deep-seated faith that God graciously speaks—even through donkeys and preachers. A Berean believes that when someone opens up God’s Word for us it is an act of grace and they eagerly receive this gift. But they also do not do it blindly. Because they also believe that God is consistent and that God doesn’t lie. So Bereans also examine.
After the sermon could you tell the preacher what he just told you?
So this is going to sound anti-Berean, but maybe consider putting down your Bible and picking up pen and paper the next time you hear a sermon. Expect that God is going to speak to you. Look for the feast or even the crumbs. Take such good notes that you could tell the preacher his main points and the big point he was aiming for that day.
Now, some of us preachers might struggle with being clear and concise. We might make this an impossible job for our congregants. If we cannot accurately say what the sermon is to be about before we preach it, then we likely aren’t doing our people much good. But I’m going to assume that most preachers at least have a decent aim of what they hope their congregation receives from this preached word. And a faithful Berean is going to eagerly receive this word by taking notes and doing everything possible to really understand what this word is, and she is doing this so that she can examine it.
Does your posture on Sunday morning look like a kid receiving a pack of underpants from grandma or a kid who just received a new video game console?
Smiles and Sharpee’s. A tear and a Thayer’s. A lexicon with a laugh. A convicted heart that checks the concordance. That is the Berean. Not one with an open Bible and a critical heart whose posture reeks of “prove it.”
So, that’s why I think Bereans would have their notepads open more than their Bibles when the Word is being preached.
Now be a Berean and see if I’m right.
This article originally appeared here.