Where My Bereans At? – Paul & the Jews

So what did Paul do?

v2 tells us “he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead”.

He reasoned with them from the Scriptures.

He used logic.

So I reckon Martyn Lloyd-Jones was on to something when he said that preaching is “logic on fire”.

Paul didn’t just tell inspiring stories, or quote lots of memorable pithy sayings. He used logical reasoning to convince people of the message of the Scriptures.

At its fundamental core, logical reasoning from the Scriptures would consist of something like:

The Scripture says (this). Therefore, we know (this) about God.

The Scripture says (this). Therefore, (this) is how we should live.

Verse 4 tells us people were “persuaded” by what Paul said. It doesn’t say that they were motivated by his passionate delivery, or captivated by his charisma, or moved by an emotive story he told, but they found his logic convincing.

We all enjoy a message that stirs us up, but obviously the fact that a message stirs us up doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good message. In v5 the Jews stirred up the city to attack Paul and Silas. The Jews were effective stirrers, but their listeners hadn’t been stirred up by a good understanding of Scripture.

It’s not the preacher’s job to come up with a message that will stir us up; it’s his job to faithfully present the meaning of the text, so that his hearers understand it and are persuaded to believe it.

Then, if the Holy Spirit is at work in us, we (including the preacher himself) will be stirred by what the text tells us about God.

So we should ask ourselves, am I being stirred up by the preacher? Or am I stirred up because the preacher has helped me understand the text and the message of the text is stirring me up?

And I note that he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.

He didn’t do his reasoning in private and then just declare his conclusions to them. He explained and proved his message in such a way that they could see in the Scriptures that what he was saying was true. They followed along with his reasoning. They did the reasoning too, which links back to what I said earlier about the Bereans not just passively listening, but examining the Scriptures and seeing for themselves that what Paul said was so.

And he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.

He started with the Scriptures, and used logical reasoning from what the Scriptures said to work out what he should say, rather than starting with what he wanted to say and then turning to the Bible to see what quotes he could use to back him up.

I know you would all agree that a preacher should preach God’s Word rather than his own opinions, and I’m sure there are not many preachers (certainly none that would come to preach at Bradford) who would ever deliberately misuse Scripture to back up their own opinions, but sometimes preachers do drift from the point of the text to start talking about their pet topics, and I think we should notice when that happens.

As I said in my introduction, I’ve struggled to avoid making that very mistake with this study. Several times I thought about scrapping it and starting again on another passage, something I don’t know very well, so that I wouldn’t have a clue what points I was going to make until I reasoned them from the text, but by Wednesday this week it was a bit late to be starting a new study from scratch, so I thought I better stick with this one. Hopefully I’ve been faithful to the meaning of the text. If not, I apologise. Please be gentle in showing me where I’ve gone wrong.

Jews

“the Jews were jealous”

These people were religious people who knew the Scriptures, knew their doctrine, but when someone came along teaching about the Christ that the Scriptures spoke of, and started to take away some of their followers, they got jealous.

That makes me think: what am I more concerned about: that people should follow the same rules as me, and do church the way I think church should be done? Or that people should come to know Christ?

“turned the world upside down”

In Paul’s day, the religious Jews, the people known for strict moral rule-keeping, accused Christians of turning the world upside down.

In our day, it tends to be us Christians that are generally seen as strict moral rule-keepers. Why is that?

Is it because what people mostly hear from us is that they need to live in a certain way to avoid God’s wrath, rather than hearing us explain why Christ suffered and rose from the dead?

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