Lesson 10: How to be like a Berean — How to guide participants to the Biblical answers
In the 17th chapter of the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit proclaims the Christians in Berea to be more noble than those in Thessalonica because not only did they receive the testimony of Paul with eagerness, but they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul the Apostle was teaching them was true. Why was this so noble? Why were they commended for searching the Scriptures to validate the truth of what Paul was telling them? Was it not enough to have the eagerness of the Holy Spirit testifying in them about the truth of what Paul was saying?
You might be puzzled by this—that is until you get to chapter 20 where Paul warns the Christians in Ephesus that after he leaves, “fierce wolves will come in among you, …men speaking twisted things” to draw Christians away from the faith. How are Christians supposed to be able tell who the wolves are? By being like the Bereans and searching the Scriptures to see if what they are being told is really the truth from God. So, if you want to be commended by God for being noble, then make it your practice to always search the Scriptures to make sure that what you are being told is actually the word of God.
So, even when something sounds like it is probably right, you should ask, “Where does the Bible say this?” Here is an example: Someone says, “God says anger is a sin.” It might seem to you like this is probably true, but if you search the Scripture you will come across Ephesians 4:26 that actually tells us to be angry, but warns us not to allow our anger to lead us to sin. So, being angry is healthy, but losing one’s temper is not. Allowing our anger to be directed toward the desire to hurt another person is bad (Mathew 5:22), but just being angry is not a sin.
Here is another example: Someone says, “everyone knows the Bible says that ‘money is the root of all evil.’” Again, a careful search of the Bible will find this statement in 1 Timothy 6:10: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” So we see that money is not the root of all evil, but that the LOVE of money is the root of a lot of evil. The idea being that the proper attitude and use of money, even LOTS of money, is not a bad thing. It only becomes bad when greed becomes an overpowering motivation. So, the problem is not with money, it is with greed.
In the Traction Leader’s Guide, we cite many Bible verses and ask the participants to discuss them in relation to the Trophy Insights. This is to model the practice of referring to Scripture to validate these Trophy Insight statements made in the Traction adventure. In this discipleship course, we provide many supporting Bible references for you to check out to see if what we are saying is true.
If you want your discipleship participants to remain strong in their faith and walk in the truth AFTER you are no longer their discipleship leader, you really do need to stress, and model, this practice of searching the Bible to see what God really says about what someone else claims is God’s truth.
But if one of your discussion group participants says, “Yes, I would like to be able to search the Bible to find out what God says about this topic, but the Bible is a big book, and I do not yet know it very well, and I have no idea where to find the Bible verses that talk about this topic,” then how do you advise them? Well, this is probably easier than you may think. Maybe the very best Bible reference tools ever created, whether they meant to do it or not, is the modern Internet search engine. A lot of people use Google. Some prefer Bing, or Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo or others. Whichever search engine you prefer, they are all great tools for asking for Bible verses relative to specific topics. For examples, these are effective search strings: “What does the Bible say about divorce?” “What are Bible verses about murder?” “What does the Bible teach about premarital sex?” “Is Latter Day Saints a true Christian religion?” “What does the Bible say about obeying bad laws?” etc.
Also, scattered around the Church globally are some people who have spent decades studying the Bible fervently and daily. (Often these people are not priests or pastors or ministers.) They have an unusual amount of knowledge about what the Bible says about all sorts of things and they can show you where to find those Bible passages. So, if you know who those people are, and they are around nearly everywhere, you can ask them to help you find appropriate Bible passages that relate to the topic you are interested in.