Believers and the book

They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed.

-- Acts 17:11-12

I tend to be Shakespearean when it comes to church names. If your church smells like a rose, because it gives off the fragrance of the word of God and the Gospel, the name does not matter much. Usually, church names reflect location and affiliation. Sometimes they convey precedent, like First or Second church.

If you're really holy, or dumb, you name your church after people or places in the Bible. I've preached at more than one Corinth Baptist Church, and still cannot understand why some would name a congregation after one known for sex scandals and heresy. Sardis Baptist Church blows my mind, too, for this is the church Jesus pronounced dead in the book of Revelation.

A good name seldom chosen by churches is Berea or Berean. This is the name of a city and people among whom Paul planted a church during his second missionary journey. They stood out, and leave us a lasting legacy of what a legitimate loving and saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ looks like. It is a combination of faith, love, and commitment to a person they could not see, and a book that they could.

Believers are eager to hear the word of God and the Gospel. The first good choice that the Bereans made, even before they were believers, was to regularly and attentively sit themselves down before the word of God in worship. When they heard Paul preach the Gospel in their synagogue, "they received the word with all eagerness." Literally, it fired them up, piqued their interest, and gave them hope. Remember the two disciples who walked with the post-resurrected Jesus on the Emmaus Road (ref. Luke 24:13-25)? They had a little holy heartburn, too.

Whatever fires you up is what has grabbed your mind, heart and soul. If life is a bore except when you get that paycheck in your hand, then your life is about money, and the things money can buy. If you only get excited when your team wins its second consecutive college football national championship, but you fail to fervently worship the Lord God and the Lord's Day, then football is your god. But if you have been chosen by God, and chosen to be a fully devoted follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, then nothing is as interesting and important in this whole world than the word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Believers are able to interpret the word of God and the Gospel. Real Christians, like those early Bereans, are always "examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so." Like Reagan in his days with the Russians, you should trust credentialed pastors and preachers of the Bible, but always verify what is preached or taught with the spiritual and intelligent study of the Bible for yourself.

I listened recently to a popular TV preacher. The ground he was covering was Noah and the flood in Genesis 6. He claimed the flood is debt, discouragement, ill health, or any other obstacle to accomplishing your dreams. He said the ark is positive thinking, faith, and of course a donation to his favorite charity, himself. On the contrary, true Christians know the flood is the wrath of God against sinners, and the ark is salvation by sovereign grace through obedient faith in God's word.

The word gives us the Gospel, and the Gospel makes sense of the word. Jesus redeems the fallen in creation, Jesus is every sacrificial offering, Jesus is the promised Messiah, Jesus is the author of a new and better covenant, Jesus is the living Lord, and Jesus will return to share His new heaven and earth with every chosen believer who has chosen to trust God and His word.

Believers withstand the persecution caused by the word of God and the Gospel. Persecution followed Paul like a blitzing Georgia Bulldog linebacker pursues an overmatched quarterback. Only Paul was never overmatched, nor were the true Christians he left in his wake. In Berea, the church stood strong, as can every congregation chained to the authority of Scripture and the necessity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christianity is not bibliolatry. But, little or no regard for the Bible is not Christianity. Name the church anything. But, name every one of the 66 books in the Bible, and count them as trustworthy and true. Believe the book; the book will lead you to believe in Jesus.

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].

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