In light of the most recent fiasco where a “man of God” predicted the end of the world and led many people into at least a place of confusion if not a place of ruin, I would like to suggest the safest way to protect ourselves is to be like the Bereans.
There are two types of “believers” within Christianity. There are the Bereans, and then there are those that I believe suffer from what I call the Moses syndrome.
Exodus 20:18-21 ~
All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance.Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.”
People who suffer the Moses syndrome are those who do not want to pay the price for intimacy with God. They would rather stay “at a distance” and let someone else have the relationship, and from that relationship tell them what God wants. Maybe they have misunderstood God’s intentions. Maybe they see God as being abusive. Maybe they come from a family where mental, verbal, or physical abuse was the norm.
Usually, these people suffer from a performance mentality. “If I do not perform to a certain standard I will be hurt, or disappointed.” These people are very easily led astray. As long as the one they are following is truly following God then they are safe. But once the person they are following veers, even slightly, from the truth they too will get off track.
This is how cults become successful. They prey on folks who do not have a vibrant, personal relationship with God and His Word. People who have very little, if any knowledge of the Word of God become susceptible to cult leaders. I believe the best, if not the only way to protect ourselves from being led astray is to spend time with God through His Word. This is where the Bereans come in.
Acts 17:10-11 ~
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
At this point the Church is approximately 15 years old. Paul has been a believer and minister of the Gospel for approximately 8 years. Paul and Silas were not novices. They were recognized leaders in the Church. These men had proven themselves to be legitimate leaders of people because of their commitment to follow Christ and His Word.
Yet, the Bereans did not blindly follow their teaching. This is a very interesting scenario. Among other truths we glean from this story we must realize the Scriptures they searched were the Old Testament Scriptures. The New Testament was being lived out and not yet written. The New Testament preachers used the Old Testament Scriptures to preach Christ and Him crucified.
There were two sources Gospel ministers used to evangelize the lost and encourage the saints. First, the Old Testament Scriptures, and second, personal testimonies of the encounters they had with Christ before, and after His resurrection.
The Bereans were “more fair-minded” than those in Thessalonica. The phrase “more fair-minded” means they had a great value for excellence. These people were from Berea. Berea means well-watered. It comes from a root word than means to pierce. Unlike the people in the Exodus text used above, the Bereans were not afraid to be pierced by God. They wanted intimacy and they were willing to pay the price to get it.
Another way to view this “piercing” is to see it as the Bereans were willing to pierce, or grill, or test those that came to teach them the Word of God. In other words the Bereans did not blindly follow their leaders.
Luke tells us they had an excellent spirit and out of this spirit of excellence they “received the word with all readiness.” This tells us they had the utmost respect for their teachers. They honored the men God sent to teach them His Word. They understood that life flows out of honor but they did not rely ONLY on the men and their revelation.
No, these Berean believers “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” I love how the Holy Spirit included the word ‘daily’ in this verse. He could have just said they “searched the Scriptures”. By omitting the word ‘daily’ the reader may have concluded they searched the Scriptures while they were being taught. This would have been noble but would not have demonstrated to us the true value they had for their personal relationship with God.
By including the word ‘daily’ Luke, and the Holy Spirit revealed the real meaning of their nobility. These believers maintained a current intimacy with the Lord. They were not going to let one day go by without connecting in with God. Maybe they knew that people were to live by every word that proceeds, not proceeded, out of the mouth of God.
Maybe they remembered that God required the Israelites to collect manna every day, except on the Sabbath. Who knows the real reason why these noble saints searched the Word daily, but they did.
Which type of person are we? Are we current in our relationship with God? Do we only rely on the relationship and revelation of the minister we follow? Do we only read, or hear God’s word when we attend a church service? Do we even attend a church? Or do we get our spiritual nourishment from the present hot teacher on TV? If any of these reflect how we relate to God we could be in danger of deception. What would we do if the person we trust had some type of failure in their life, or died?
These are exciting days that we live in. These are also dangerous days that we live in. I encourage us to take the time daily to seek God through prayer, worship, meditating on and searching through the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments. In doing this we will grow in our relationship with the Lord as well as protect ourself from being led astray.
For HIS Glory!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury