Are You a Berean?

Berean Congregation

Week in and week out church members listen to sermons, sit in on Bible studies, and attend Sunday School. They receive teaching, but what do they do with that teaching afterward? I am afraid most members do nothing more than casually mention to their family over lunch that the sermon was good this week.

Scripture tells us that is an inadequate response. It calls us to do more than listen to the sermon on Sunday, even though that is a good start. What else should we do? Let’s look to the book of Acts and see what our friends the Berean’s did.

The Bereans as Our Example

After leaving Thessalonica, Paul and Silas came to Berea. Luke tells us after arriving Paul and Silas…

… went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:10-11).

The Bereans model for us what we should do on Sunday morning. What is that?

Here are the three things they did that we should be doing:  

(1) They Eagerly Received God’s Word – They came to the synagogue hungry for the preached Word. Preaching wasn’t the part of the service they endured. It was a part of the service they eagerly anticipated.

(2) They Listened Attentively – Not only did they desire to hear God’s Word taught, but they listened attentively. Limited edition Berean Moleskine’s sat in every listener’s lap being filled with notes from the sermon. Daydreaming, counting the pews for the 100th time, or catching up on their beauty sleep was far from their mind. They listened to the exposition of God’s Word attentively.

(3) They Examined the Teaching they Heard – Not only did the Bereans receive the Word with all eagerness, listening attentively, but they went home, opened their Bibles, and examined Paul and Silas’ teaching. Was it accurate? Did it coincide with the rest of Scripture? Was it applied rightly? These are the questions they probably asked and more.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you hunger to hear God’s Word proclaimed?
  2. Do you listen attentively during the preaching of God’s Word?
  3. When was the last time you went home and examined the sermons content for accuracy?
  4. Are you a Berean?

Resource

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What is Your Current Spiritual State?

Lately, I have been reading the Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter. It is a great book, and one I highly recommend. In his section on the Oversight of the Flock, Baxter challenges pastors to both be acquainted with and to know the spiritual state of their people. He believes that pastors need to know the temperament or disease of the flock, in order to be a good physician.

Benefit for Everyone

I believe Baxter’s advice is great, but it is not just for pastors. I believe everyone can benefit from his advice. We all need to understand our own spiritual state, so we know where we need the most accountability, and what we need to consistently watch out for and pray to God to help us with.

Self Evaluation

In order to help evaluate ourselves, I have provided a modified version of a list Baxter gives to his readers to assist us in testing our own spiritual state.

The list is as follows:

(1) What are your natural inclinations? What are your tendencies? In other words, what actions, attitudes, or beliefs are you disposed toward? To what sins are you naturally drawn?

(2) Who are the people you keep regular company with? Do they serve to build you up in Christ, or do they tear you down?

(3) What sins are you most in danger of committing? Are there circumstances in your life that allow you to easily sin in a particular area?

(4) What duties (prayer, Bible study, Scripture memory, evangelism, accountability, family devotions, etc.) are you most apt to neglect?

(5) To what temptations are you most likely to succumb?

If we honestly answer all these questions, we will have a proper understanding of our current spiritual state, which should help us to guard ourselves on a daily basis. As well as know in what areas we need to seek accountability from others.

The Good Shepherd: Teaching us how to shepherd our family

Just last year, God blessed my brother and sister-n-law with a new addition to their family. Taylor came into the world weighing in at  7.1 lbs. This new addition to their family of three has been a joyous time, yet it comes with great responsibility. Not only are they to care for their children’s physical needs, but they are also to attend to their families spiritual development.

Specifically, the husband is to shepherd his family. Whether the family consists of the husband and wife, or a family of four, men are called to be the pastor’s of their household. Our local pastor is not the only one called to shepherd the flock. We are called to this task as well.

Jesus is our example and as Christians we are to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6), imitating Him (Eph. 5:1, 1 Cor. 11:1) in all things. Since He is our example, it is only right that we should look to Him for the “how to” of shepherding.

Here are a few guiding principles to get you started:

(1) We must know those we shepherd.

John 10:14 tells us Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He knows His own and His own know Him. In order to shepherd our families well, we must spend time getting to know them. This means turning off the t.v. during dinner and engaging your family in conversation.

(2) We must lead by example.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray by example (Matt 6:5-15). He showed them how to serve one another by example (John 13:3-5), and He also taught His disciples how to minister to others by example (Luke 8:1-9:6). As leaders of our household, we must do the same, which necessitates that we know how to pray, how to serve others, and how to minister to friends and family.

(3) We must protect our families from both physical and spiritual danger.

Jesus tells us that the Good Shepherd is willing to lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:11-13). He lays down His life because He cares for them. And in caring for them, He protects them from both physical and spiritual harm. In order to protect our families from spiritual danger, we must know what they are watching, reading, and who they are friends with. We must understand the culture in which we live, knowing how to combat cultural teachings with Scripture. This means we must not only have a deep understanding of our culture, but also of the Word of God.

(4) We must instruct our families.

Jesus intimately instructed His disciples during His earthly ministry, teaching them how to both read and understand the Word of God (Acts 1:3). We also must instruct our family in God’s Word, teaching them how to read it and understand it. This can be accomplished through a nightly family devotion, a weekly Bible study, or by talking about the sermon over lunch.

Conclusion

These four suggestions for better shepherding are not all that a shepherd does, but it is a good start. If we are committed to knowing our families better, leading by example, protecting them from both physical and spiritual danger, and instructing our families in the Word of God, we are on the right path to shepherding our families well.

Resource

The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott (117-130).