The Lower Lights> April 2004|
Alan Jones, Editor
"Brightly beams our
From the lighthouse
But to us He gives the
Of the light along the
Published monthly by the church of Christ, 35900 Palmer Road, P.O. Box
86-233, Westland, MI 48186
WON’T YOU RECEIVE THE WORD OF GOD LIKE
the gospel was a dangerous task in the days of the apostles. For fear of
their lives Paul and Silas fled by night from Thessalonica to Berea (Acts
17:10). After that experience, how thankful they must have been to find
men and women in Berea whose minds were prepared to hear the word of God.
were said to be “more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they
received the word with great eagerness.” (17:11). “Noble-minded” could be
translated “fair minded”, that is an “unprejudiced mind”, a mind that was
not already made up before Paul began to speak, but was willing to hear
him out and examine the truthfulness of what he had to say. Do you study
the Bible with your mind open to receive the truth of God or to prove what
you already believe and to justify what you already practice? All who
read the Bible or hear it preached must dismiss from their minds their own
preconceived ideas in order to truly be receptive to the truth of God.
But, being “open minded” should not be confused with being
“gullible”. In Berea, Paul preached that Jesus was the Christ, furnishing
proof from the Old Testament prophecies. Even though an apostle was doing
the preaching, the Bereans had their Old Testaments open, “examining the
Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (17:11) They were
not convinced that Paul was preaching the truth just because he had his
Bible open and was claiming to be teaching what God said.
When you go to church, do you take
your Bible along so that you can see for yourself whether or not the
preacher or Bible class teacher is speaking the truth of God? If you
bring your Bible, do you open it up and follow along with the speaker,
looking up each reference as he cites it to make sure that the text
really does say what he is teaching? When you listen preaching on the
radio or TV, do you open your Bible to compare the message with the Word
of God, “examining the Scriptures” to see whether these things are so?
If the Bereans didn’t take the apostle Paul’s word for it, then why
should you take any preacher at their word today?
Receiving the Word of God
involves not only open minds and open Bibles, but open lives. Once men
discover God’s truth, to truly “receive” it, they must apply it to their
lives. After examining Paul’s teaching and finding it to be true, many
of the Bereans believed. (17:12) We imply that they obeyed Jesus’
conditions of salvation and became His disciples. As the first Jews who
“gladly received the Word”, they repented of their sins and were
baptized (Acts 2:37-41). Then they began a steadfast and committed
life of service to Jesus, continuing to learn more of His will and to
apply it to their lives. (Acts 2:42).
Knowledge of the Bible is
not enough. As James said, “But one who looks intently at the perfect
law, the law of liberty, not having become a forgetful hearer, but an
effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (Js 1:25).
Won’t you receive the Word of God like the Bereans?
A CALL TO AN
OPEN INVESTIGATION OF THE SCRIPTURES
There was a time in our nation’s
history, especially in the early to mid-1800’s when people loved to hear
the Bible preached. Though they belonged to different demominations, when
a neighboring church had a preacher come to town to preach, they would all
assemble to hear the message. There was an open investigation of the
Scriptures. These pioneers were searching for God’s truth and had a mind
to receive it once they found it. They wanted to have a unity with
brothers and sisters in Christ that was based on God’s truth. As a
result, many abandoned their denominations along with their denominational
doctrines in order simply to become Christians, united in independent
congregations whose only rule of faith was the New Testament.
today unfortunately, there is no such love for the Bible. Many
churchgoers don’t even bring their Bibles to church, much less open them
to examine the truthfulness of what is being taught. Communities no
longer assemble when a preacher comes to town to preach. Why not?
Perhaps it is lack of interest. Perhaps it is denominational barriers.
Probably both. The spirit of investigation, the quest for truth, is
gone. Many have the skeptical and perhaps even sarcastic attitude of
Pilate, “What is truth?”
(Jn 18:38) Most people accept the
common thought that it doesn’t matter what you believe. If this be so,
why sit down with others who differ with you and study the Bible to find
out what God has spoken on the subject (s) of difference? There would be
no point. It is so sad that the day of discussion has been replaced by
the day of tolerance. No longer do “Christians” desire and put forth
effort to unite upon the objective truth of the New Testament, but they
are content “to live and let live”, accepting those in all denominations
as “brothers”, yet remaining divided, contrary to Jesus’ prayer that His
disciples who be one as He and the Father are one (Jn 17:20-21).
We, the Palmer Road church
of Christ, are calling men back to open investigation of the Scriptures.
We are calling men back to the spirit of the pioneers of our country, only
as that spirit is in keeping with the Bereans of the first century (see
Acts 17:11-12; front page article). It is the goal of the Palmer Road
church in the 21st century to practice the undenominational
Christianity of the 1st century, a Christianity based on “the
faith” (Jude 3). We call all men back to Jesus’ New Testament as THE
standard of authority that all may serve Him acceptably and receive the
eternal salvation He promised the obedient (Heb 5:8-9).
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