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December 12, 2018, 8:56 AM

Noble in Character

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians” (Acts 17:11).

Nobility has been a title given (or demanded) more often than a truth. People have belonged to the nobility because of the accident of birth, or the accumulation of wealth, or the cunning of politics, who were anything but noble in character. As God Word views it, what makes a people noble in character? What was so different about these Bereans? Let’s examine Acts 17:10-14 a bit closer.

1. They were open-minded. We read that “they received the message with great eagerness” (v. 11). The message was the same one Paul delivered to the Thessalonians. Reduced to essence: “Jesus … is the Christ.” And this is demonstrated from Scripture fulfilled in His crucifixion and resurrection (vv. 2-3). The cross was “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23). Often its first mention evoked scorn and aroused hostility. But these Bereans refused to allow popular prejudice to stop their ears. They were willing to hear the message and judge its claims in an atmosphere of open-mindedness. Every audience ought to listen in this spirit. The gospel does not ask for special favors, only for a fair hearing. Are you listening with an open mind? Or with crossed arms?

2. They were Bible-governed. These Bereans “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (v. 11). Open-minded does not mean gullible. These people had the Bible. If what was preached could not be supported by the Bible, they were ready to reject it, and rightly so. Their minds were free from prejudice but bound to God’s Word. Everyone operates with some framework of accepted authority. With most people it is the opinion and reaction of certain leading figures. They play “follow the leader” blindfolded. The Pharisees could dismiss Jesus by saying, “Has any of the rulers or the Pharisees put his trust in him? (John 7:48). If the nation’s VIPs rejected Jesus, that proved Him false as far as they were concerned. The person who is open-minded and Bible-governed does not ask, What does the elite of our day say? Their question is, What does the Bible say?

3. They were God-believing. “Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men” (v. 12). They were convinced that “Paul was preaching the word of God” (v. 13), not airing his own opinions. God himself was addressing them through the message of the gospel. God was identifying Jesus as the Messiah, calling them to repentance, offering them pardon for sins. A divine-human encounter was taking place in that synagogue; they sensed it and believed God. Jews and Greeks, men and women, prominent and ordinary believed. God is the Creator and Redeemer of all people. To believe God is to believe also in our common humanity, and be willing to comprise a fellowship which ignores the arbitrary and sinful barriers erected by society.

In closing, it’s one thing to read about such a congregation. It’s another and harder thing to be such a church! What is your character? Are you open-minded? Or has someone already done your thinking? Are you Bible-governed? Or are you controlled by the opinions of others? Are you God-believing? Or do you assent mentally to His Word but deny it practically in your life?

Let’s pray: Gracious Lord, help me to be open-minded, Bible-governed, and God-believing. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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