Saturday, November 24, 2012

Being a Berean (Acts 17:1-15)

Pastor Jeff Anderson consistently teaches the superiority of the Scriptures over all human ideas, human opinions, and human efforts. Following are excerpts from one of his sermons, "Being a Berean," from Acts 17:1-15. The entire sermon can be heard here.
...The apostle says in 1 Corinthians 2, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified ... And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (NKJV)
... Our greatest reasoning and our greatest logic when it comes to biblical persuasion is to reason from the Scriptures ... because "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
... The modern apologetic, the defense of the faith that you find in so many Christian colleges, so many books that you read, is somehow an attitude that says, "Let's take the Bible and hide it behind our back and now we're going to convince people ... and somehow we'll sneak in a little bit of Bible, maybe at the end." That is not the biblical way. The biblical way is to make sure the Scriptures are there and the Scriptures are the first thing. "Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.'" (Acts 17:2-3, NKJV)
...The Logos is not just our persuasive words. It's the reasoning that comes from the Scriptures, and when you go to all of the Scriptures it becomes obvious ... Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the one we need to trust in ... Why? Because they received this, not as the words of human wisdom, not just because we are compelling, not just because we are persuasive, but because the Word of God has brought them to faith, and it's the Word of God that we must use ... There's no place for us to manipulate people just by sheer emotion ...
... turn on the television and watch all the commercials ... they're all about emotion. They're trying to stir people to feel a certain way rather than to think a certain way in order to buy whatever it might be that they have.
As Christians we must not fall into that ... If we fall into that, we can tell nice stirring stories, we can move people to tears, we can play music, and we can get them to walk an aisle and make a certain profession of their faith in Christ, but ... people who go out and with emotion they're trying to convince people and they only use stirring things and manipulate people and they get a certain response but the response doesn't last ...
In America we've done a great job in the last hundred years of getting people to walk aisles, make professions, raise their hands. We've done a really good job of manipulating people into making a profession of their faith in Christ, but we see very little fruit of that, and the reason ... is because we have fallen to the pathetic ... rationale of trying to convince people by only stirring and appealing to their emotions ...
... We must be sure we are not doing that. We must be sure we are depending on the Spirit of God to compel people and drive them. Why? Because the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; they are spiritually discerned. And the thing we can do is pray that the Spirit of God would grant people repentance to acknowledge the truth. And we can plant the seeds of the Scripture and give them reason from the Scripture. Give them the Word, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. These are the things that we must give ourselves to. We must not ever give ourselves to whatever it is that produces results and seems to help us pad our figures and count our results and somehow feel good that, "Hey, we accomplished something today."
... If I were to just get up and tell you emotional stories, and we'd play a little bit of music that could kind of manipulate you, then we could have you come down forward, and I could write to all my friends and say, "Hey, we had twenty people come forward today. Look at me. Success! Successful day! God was glorified! Twenty people came forward!" Who knows what happened with those twenty people who came forward? If instead we're simply reasoning from the Scriptures, we might not see a visible response. We might not be able to report a certain number of baptisms or a certain number of responses or how many people came forward to pray. Instead, we are depending upon the Lord Himself to stir and move in the hearts of people to where HE is persuading, and they come to genuine faith.
... We should go to the Scriptures ourselves and reason with them and see if these things are indeed so ... We have no excuse ... Be a Berean ... Go to the Scriptures and see if these things are true ... We should be Bereans - people of the book. We should give ourselves to understanding and seeing if these things are true, and then we use these Scriptures to persuade other people. We reason from the Scriptures to convince them of who Christ is. We don't figure out how to have some huge city-wide meeting, have the best music we can possibly have to entertain and get people in, get the most compelling speaker who's going to come and tell us some sad stories, make sure we have a couple of testimonies, make sure everyone cries by those testimonies that come - and then somehow give them an appeal for which they can come forward.
That is not how we're going to change America or how we're going to turn our world upside down. We can only turn our world upside down by being people of this book and by reasoning from these Scriptures and letting the Word of God produce faith in hearers ...

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