The "Berean" Spirit

Acts 17
11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, in that they received the Word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

The Bible alone is the Word of God. The words of no theologian, scholar or church council are the Word of God. This means we must be Bereans. We must search the Scriptures. We cannot simply say "I believe it because Dr. So-and-So says so." If Dr. So-and-So is worth listening to, he would say what we're saying: "Don't believe me -- search the Scriptures to see if it's so."

One of the most important doctrines of the Protestant Reformation is "the Priesthood of All Believers." We do not need priests as mediators between us and God. Nor should we be denied access to the Scriptures and be forced to rely on the pronouncements of the doctors of the church.

In fact, the Scripture declares that we have an obligation to search the Scriptures for ourselves.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) agrees:

4. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God[i].

[i]. 2 Peter 1:19, 21. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.... For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 Timothy 3:16.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
1 John 5:9.
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
1 Thessalonians 2:13.
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

5. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverend esteem of the holy Scripture[k]. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts[l].

[k]. 1 Timothy 3:15. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
[l]. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. {10} But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.;
John 10:35; If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Romans 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.;
(Psalms 19:7-11) The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. {8} The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. {9} The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. {10} More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. {11} Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: {5} That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
1 John 2:20,27 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. {27} But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Isaiah 59:21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.

6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men[m].

[m]. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: {17} That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Galatians 1:8-9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. {9} As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

7. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all[p]: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them[q].

[p]. 2 Peter 3:16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
[q]. Psalm 119:105  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Deuteronomy 30:10-14 If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. {11} For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. {12} It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? {13} Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? {14} But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Acts 17:11 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.

For centuries the Church leaders kept the Bible hidden from the laity. The Protestant reformers said that the Bible should be read and studied by laymen, and to that end should be translated into common languages.

8. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical[r]; so as, in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them[s]. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them[t], therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come[u], that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner[w]; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope[x].

[r]. Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Psalm 119:89 For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
[s]. Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Matthew 15:3,6 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? {6} And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
Acts 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
2 Timothy 3:14-15 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; {15} And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
[t]. John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Acts 17:11 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.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
[u]. Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: {20} Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
1 Corinthians 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
[w]. Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Exodus 20:4-6 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: {5} Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; {6} And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Matthew 15:7-9 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, {8} This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. {9} But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
[x]. Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

9. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly[y].

[y]. Acts 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
John 5:46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me.
2 Peter 1:20-21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. {21} For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

10. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture[z].

[z]. Matthew 22:29,31 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. {31} But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
Acts 28:25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,
1 John 4:1-6 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. {2} Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: {3} And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. {4} Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. {5} They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. {6} We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

Those who believed the Popes and priests of their day were misled. They should have searched the Scriptures.

But the Reformed Churches must be semper reformanda: "always reforming." Anytime we trust the established theologians rather than the Scriptures, we have become the new catholics, and have made Dr. So-and-So the new pope. We must be   returning continually to the Scriptures.

There are two areas in our day in which I believe we must return to the Scriptures. (There are many, of course, but there are two in particular that I believe are of great importance.) These two areas are (1) The Second Coming and (2) The State.

Theologians and scholars have largely been in agreement on these two issues, but the example of the Bereans is to search the Scriptures to see if what they say is true. And in these two areas the stakes are incredibly high. If the theologians are wrong, western civilization itself hangs in the balance.

Following the Fall of the Roman Empire, Christians began building Western Civilization. There is a rumor (started by atheists) that Greece and Rome were the architects of Western Civilization. This is false. Rome was a dictatorship and a depraved empire. It was men like Justinian and King Alfred who brought the world out of the truly dark ages of pre-Christian paganism, and began the creation of Western Civilization, basing laws on the Ten Commandments and ensuring human rights for all, not just for the philosopher-kings.

The ACLU doesn't want people to know this, but America's Founding Fathers were Bible-believing Christians, America was a Christian nation, our laws were based on the Bible, and Presidents, courts and legislatures acknowledged that

the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us.
(Isaiah 33:22)

Christianity is the basis of Liberty.

Great advances in science and technology were made by Christians like Isaac Newton (who wrote more books about the Bible than about science). Our prosperity and productivity were fueled by "the Protestant work ethic." Darwinism and other false "science" has led to genocide and Hitler.

But beginning around 1925 (the "Scopes Monkey trial" and the rise of "dispensational premillennialism"), Christian began retreating from life, waiting for the rapture, instead of working to create heaven on earth (Matthew 6:10). During the 1970's the number one book on the New York Times bestseller list was not a book on how to end abortion, bring an end to atheistic communism, or convert the Muslim world to Christianity, it was Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth, an almost wholly fictional account of how the world was going to end after Christians were raptured by 1981 (forty years after the formation of the State of Israel in 1848, but 7 years short of Armageddon and the Great Tribulation).

The brief rise of the Christian Reconstruction movement in the 1980's, with their goal of "exercising dominion" and Christianizing the nations, brought howls of protest from premillenarians like Dave Hunt, who asked Whatever Happened to Heaven? Hunt argued that the primary purpose of the Christian was to long for heaven, and convert others to Christianity so that they too would repudiate the world and long to be raptured out of it.

Because of this escapist mentality, atheists have gained political and cultural power in the 20th century. Darwinism, Islam, Marxism and other forms of paganism have enslaved billions of people, murdered hundreds of millions, and nearly brought us back to the state of affairs that existed in the debauched Roman Empire.

Jesus is not "coming soon." Jesus and the Apostles taught that Jesus was coming soon, and if Jesus did not come soon, then they were all mistaken. Begin your search of the Scriptures with these.

But even those who do not believe that the world is coming to an end tomorrow, and may even believe that Christianizing the nations is our "Great Commission," have still been rendered culturally impotent by their belief that there must always exist an institution which will advance paganism, secularism and anti-Christian morality. That institution is "The State."

The State must always advance anti-Christian ideas because it is contrary to Biblical Law. God nowhere commands human beings to form "the State." The State's essential function is to take vengeance, which is explicitly forbidden to us (Romans 12:19-21). It takes vengeance by murdering people, in violation of the 6th Commandment. It funds its activities by confiscating, extorting, or stealing the wealth of others, in violation of the 8th Commandment. It says it protects us against "anarchy," but Jesus said His followers were to be anarchists (that is, they are not to be "archists," the opposite of "anarchists." Politicians, dictators, and bureaucrats are all "archists" in violation of Christ's commandment.).*

Christians in the 19th century were abolishing slavery and guaranteeing human rights. Christians in the 20th century were waiting around for the rapture. As a result, more than 10,000 people on average were murdered by the pagan state each and every day. Nearly half a billion people murdered, while Christians were passive and silent, longing for heaven, despising God's creation. This figure of murder and enslavement is slated to increase on a vast scale in the 21st century if Darwinists have their way.

In the spirit of the Bereans, we urge Christians to search the Scriptures to see if Christ is really going to come again "at any moment," and to see if socialism is more Godly than capitalism.

* Violent resistance against the State is also prohibited, although those who defend the State also defend armed revolution at some point. In the passage which is usually used to buttress the moral legitimacy of the State, Paul speaks of the State as "the powers that be." That word "powers" is universally used to speak of demonic forces. Paul says (Ephesians 6:12) that we are to "wrestle against" the powers.

Study Romans 13


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