by Matt Smith
If you are like me, at various times in your life you have been asked the question of what Baptists believe or why I go to a Baptist church. While I’m sure you could correctly answer those types of questions in different ways, the answer that seems the most simple yet complete to me is that we as Baptists simply believe what the Bible teaches. While others from another denomination or two might say the same thing, by and large our distinction is that we hold to the Bible as our supreme rule and authority. We don’t go to a book or edict written by a church father, or wait to here what a distant counsel has to say about a certain topic. As Bible-believing Christians we claim to be able to have either a Bible verse or principle that explains what we believe and practice. I love what a pastor from Virginia named Kurt Skelly recently tweeted, “The Bible has messed up some of my best messages.” That sums it up perfectly!
Our reading today talks about a local body of believers that were commended for taking the time to study what the Bible taught. In Acts 17:10-11 it says, “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Here Paul points out the fact that the Bearean Christians didn’t just take what Paul had to say as gospel-truth, but instead invested the time to see if what he had to say matched the Scriptures. Keep in mind that these believers obviously did not have the entire Bible to study, but what they did have the pored over and matched it up with what Paul had to say.
Certainly, this attitude should be true of us today. Our world today is full of so many different religions and schools of theological thought. Even in the Christian world there are enough different theological persuasions, teachers, preachers, colleges and “camps” to make our heads spin. And while good and godly people can certainly disagree on certain topics, each of us needs to be true students of the Bible and let it be our guide and source for why we believe what we believe. We shouldn’t just take the word of our favorite radio preacher or, respectfully, the word of one of our pastors, but instead search “the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”