I turned on the TV one night and saw an older preacher being carried out to the pulpit by a man on each side. I have never seen someone alive look so dead. He claimed that God told him to fast for 40 days so that people could look at him while he preached and know that God was behind his sermon. I thought, “Wow, that man is so godly! That must be what biblical fasting looks like!”
Then one day I read Matthew 6:16 where Jesus said “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” Perhaps God did not tell him to fast after all.
Paul was an apostle who God used to bring his message to the Gentiles. When a group of Bereans heard Paul’s teaching, they didn’t just take his word for it. Instead, “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11b).
All Christians should be like the Bereans. Don’t believe everything you hear about the Bible, even from your own preacher or a dear friend. Instead, take everything you hear and compare it to what you read in Scripture.
Unfortunately, many Christians believe things that aren’t found anywhere in Scripture. Let’s look at a few examples to see if you know which of these things are in the Bible and which aren’t.
Which of These Things Are in The Bible?
1. Female angels
2. People mocked Noah when he built the ark
3. Peter fished naked
4. Jesus was born in the winter
5. Jonah was swallowed by a whale
6. The Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden is now in Heaven
7. Money is the root of all evil
8. The forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve ate was an apple
9. The concept of halos
10. The Golden Rule
11. Christians live in Heaven forever
12. Folding your hands when you pray
13. Jesus had some help when carrying the cross
14. “God helps those who help themselves.”
15. Jesus had brothers and sisters
Let’s see how you did! Here are the answers:
1. Female Angels (No. All angels mentioned in the Bible are referred to as male).
2. People mocked Noah when he built the ark (No. There is no mention of people mocking Noah in the Genesis account).
3. Peter fished naked (Yes. Peter did according to John 21:7).
4. Jesus was born in the winter (Probably not. Although we are not entirely sure when exactly Jesus was born, most scholars say it was probably not in the Winter).
5. Jonah was swallowed by a whale (No. The book of Jonah never specifies what kind of “fish” it was).
6. The Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden is now in Heaven (Yes. This can be found in Revelation 2:7).
7. Money is the root of all evil (No. This is a commonly misused verse. 1 Timothy 6:10 says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” ESV).
8. The forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve ate was an apple (No. Genesis never says what kind of fruit it was).
9. The concept of halos (No. Halos are never mentioned in the Bible).
10. The Golden Rule (Yes. Jesus states the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12).
11. Christians live in Heaven forever (No. Christians eventually end up in the New Heavens and New Earth according to Revelation 21. Heaven is an intermediate place where Christians go immediately after death according to 2 Cor. 5:6-8, Luke 23:43 and other passages).
12. Folding your hands when you pray (No. This posture is never mentioned in the Bible, but that does not make it wrong).
13. Jesus had some help when carrying the cross (Yes. Mel Gibson actually got this one from the Bible —Matthew 27:32 to be exact).
14. God helps those who help themselves (No. This quote is typically attributed to Benjamin Franklin).
15. Jesus had brothers and sisters (Yes. Jesus had brothers and sisters according to Matthew 13:56 and Mark 3:21).
Three Ways To Be Like the Bereans
How can we be like the Bereans in examining the Scriptures? Here are three practical things you can do:
(1) Take notes on what you hear about a passage of Scripture.
This is the most obvious thing you can do. Instead of trying to rely on your memory, have a notebook handy when listening to a sermon or a podcast. That way you can take what you wrote down and compare it to see if it lines up with Scripture.
(2) Read several commentaries on that individual passage.
A commentary is a beneficial tool that will help you see what others are saying about it. Scholars who have studied a particular book or passage for many years often have great insight. Keep in mind that they could still be wrong. Scripture is always your ultimate authority.
(3) Read the entire Bible.
This is something that often gets overlooked. How can we know what the Scriptures teach if we have not read all of them? The Bible is a large library of books; it takes a lot of time and commitment to read all of it. But reading it is so worth while.
Be like the Bereans and don’t just take my word for it.