Marks of Nobility

Marks of Nobility

God wrote a Book and what a wonderful book it is. This book tells us more about our inner self than any psychology. This book tells us more about the meaning of life than any philosophy. This book tells us more about wise human government than any nation’s constitution. This book tells us more about God and His workings than any other religious script. God wrote a book, and He gave it to you and He gave it to me.

And yet, it is at this point that God has a complaint against His people.

God records through the prophet Hosea (Hosea 8:12), these works,

I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien.

Did you catch that? This is God’s complaint against His people.

I wrote for them the many things of my law, but they regarded them as something alien.

Eugene Peterson, in his translation of the Bible, The Message, translates that Verse this way; God is speaking and He says,

I write out my revelation for them in detail, and they pretend that they can’t read it.

We have to ask ourselves, “Does God make this complaint against me? Have I regarded His book as something too hard to understand, so I set it aside; as something alien, as something foreign, as something unnecessary, too obscure to be of practical worth and value?”

The truth is if we do not diligently read His book, study it, drink it in daily, then God rightly makes this complaint against us. God has written us “His Letters of Mercy.” Are we reading them?

In Acts 17:10-15, there is this group of people in the city of Berea who provide for us a wonderful example; a model. God sets them before us as a model of nobility. This story is placed here by God so that we would have an example to aspire toward in our eagerness and our love for the Scripture our eagerness to study it. These Bereans are quite anxious, not only to hearing the Bible taught, but to go home and to read it daily; to search the Scriptures daily to find Truth for themselves. God calls them “noble” because they are people of the book.

Today the encouragement set before us is simply let us be a people who are eager to be taught the Word of God and who examine the Scriptures daily to see whether what we have been taught is true.

The context of our story in Acts 17 is the second missionary journey which Paul takes to spread the Gospel into the uttermost parts of the world. Silas and Timothy are his companions at this point. They have been in Thessalonica and for three weeks in a row, as we began Acts 17, we recognize that Paul went to the synagogue at Thessalonica for three weeks, teaching them the Word of God, explaining to them that Christ Jesus had to suffer and had to die, His resurrection, and the necessity to believe in order to find salvation.

As a result of this ministry, it tells us in Verses 2 and 3, of Chapter 17, that some believed the Message, many did not, but both Jews and Greeks, there were some from those communities that joined Paul and Silas and believed in the Gospel. But, in Verse 5, there were certain of the Jewish leadership in particular, who were jealous and so they “rounded up some bad characters,” “some lewd men of the baser sort,” King James says, to make accusation against Paul and Silas and to form a mob. They couldn’t find Paul and Silas, so they went to Jason, the man in whose house they were staying, and they dragged him into court. The crowd was whipped into a “turmoil.” Jason was able to escape by posting bond, but in Verse 10, it says,

As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea.

They said, “Okay, Paul and Silas, we recognize that this city is in such an uproar, it is no longer safe to be here.”

What is interesting, upon arriving there in Berea,

…they went to the Jewish synagogue…

and they began their ministry afresh. This is to tell us there is no flinching in the ministry of teaching of the Gospel. They didn’t back off, even in spite of the dangers that they had been in and would go through. Even though this Gospel that they were teaching was very offensive to many, none-the-less, as soon as they got to Berea, they went to the synagogue and began teaching the Word.

This city of Berea is some forty to fifty miles away from Thessalonica, so it was a good little journey. This Berea is more like the city of Peoria than like the city of Chicago. Thessalonica may be thought of as more like Chicago. It was a very bustling place; a place that was on the main highway, whereas Berea was off of the beaten path, off the main highway, that connected cities to Rome. It was not a center of political influence; and didn’t have much worldly status. It was here that Paul comes and immediately he begins to teach the Word of God.

Verse 11,

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians…

“More noble character,” you might just underline that in your Bibles. This adjective originally applied to those born in royal families; people who were born into nobility, princes and princesses were said to be “noble.” But here, God uses this term to describe a people who were born in this rather sleepy town of Berea, people who had no worldly influence, no wealthy status, no political clout, and yet, these are the ones whom God applies this term, this adjective, this description – noble. These are the royal class of citizens in God’s Kingdom.

So what made them the royal class? What made them “noble?”

It is not their birth. It is not their money. It is not their position. What is it? It is their love for God’s Word. It is their love for the Scriptures.

Look at what it says in Verse 11, they

…were…more noble…than the Thessalonians, for…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

They received the Message eagerly, that is to say, they listened carefully as Paul taught the Word, and the implication is they went everyday to hear Paul teach. They were so excited to learn what the Scripture said, they went everyday. Undoubtedly, it was the Bereans who first began the treasured and time-worn practice of taking notes in a sermon.

They were so eager to listen to the Word, they listened actively; there was no yawing in boredom as they listened to Paul. There were no arms folded in resistance. There was some nodding of the heads but not nodding as a result of sleepiness. The listened actively. They listened aggressively. They listened eagerly. It is the responsibility of the teacher, or the preacher, to make every effort not to bore the audience.

Howard Hendricks, my professor, I will still hear his words reverberating through my mind, as he told us seminary students, “It is a sin to bore people with the Word of God.” I believe that is true and so it is the responsibility of the teacher, the preacher, not to bore.

It is the responsibility of the learner to make every effort not to be bored. There is a responsibility that listeners have and that believers embraced in Berea. This is the reason they were noble in the eyes of God.

Like the story of the preacher that began his message by saying, “It is my responsibility to talk. It is your responsibility to listen. If you finish before I do, please raise your hand.”

The Bereans embraced the responsibility to listen with great eagerness, and after they listened to Paul’s teaching what did they do? It tells us in Verse 11, that when they went home, they

…examined the Scriptures everyday to see if what Paul (was saying) was true.

That word “examined” is a word that means a “critical questioning,” a “close observation.” It is used of judicial investigations, so for instance, it’s used of Herod when he “examined” Jesus; of the Sanhedrin when they “examined” Peter and John in Acts 4, and of Felix when he is going to, later, “examine” Paul in Chapter 24:8. So, it is this kind of examination, it is a close observation, a questioning, a searching out of facts, of truths, and this is the way that these Bereans handled the Word of God.

Verse 12 tells us that

Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

Not all the people believed the Message, in spite of their eagerness, in spite of their searching, but many did. Believing, or faith, is tied to the Bereans eagerness to know the Scriptures.

We ask the question, “Why did the Bereans search the Scriptures so diligently? Why did they listen to the Word of God being taught so eagerly and how can we follow their example?”

There are six attitudes towards the Bible that motivate us to eagerly study the Word of God, that mark a noble Christian’s life, and this is where we wish to turn our attention today as we study two verses, Verses 11 and 12.

First, Christians of noble character acknowledge the Scripture’s necessity.

The Bereans knew that they needed God’s book in order for them to find life, in order for them to find Truth, in order for them to have joy. These Bereans understood that there was no other source of Truth that was available for them or to them that could provide them with a foundation upon which to build their lives. These Bereans did not need to be sold on the necessity of the Scripture. This character trait set them apart from the Thessalonians as they also had the opportunity to hear Paul speak.

In Verse 11,

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians…

He sets the Bereans in contrast to the Thessalonians in regards to their initial attitude toward the Scriptures. In Thessalonica Paul had to work hard to gain an audience. He had to work hard to convince the Thessalonians that they needed the Message that he was delivering to them.

If we look in Verses 2 and 3, we see the various words that are used to describe Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica; how he “reasoned” with them, in Verse 2. That is to say, he had question and answer dialogue. Then it tells us in Verse 3, that he “explained” and he was “proving,” he was trying to convince the Thessalonians that they needed this Message. And then, in Verse 4, it tells us that the Thessalonians were “persuaded,” that is to say, they finally were moved against their initial resistance to the Truth.

The difference between these two groups is illustrated by two experiences that Kimberly and I have had in our lives. One, as we were first married, we had many salesmen come knocking on our door. One of those was a vacuum cleaner salesman, and he knocked, and we already had a new vacuum that was given to us as a wedding present. We didn’t need a new vacuum, but he says, “Hey, wait until you can see what my vacuum cleaner can do.” We said, “No, no,” and he says, “I will give you a free box of detergent if you will let me,” and so, “Okay, sure, come on in.” We didn’t have a lot of money; a box of detergent was a box of detergent, and so, “Hey, great, we are willing to set through an hour’s presentation, what ever it is.” It turned, of course, to be much longer than what he had promised, and so, as he gave his demonstration, one of the things he did, he took one of the cushions off that sofa that we had received as a wedding present and wrapped it in a plastic bag and he stuck the vacuum hose in, and we saw our cushion go from a nice, fluffy cushion down to about this size (demonstrated 1”), and he says, “Now this is cleaning up all of the dog hair and cat hair.” “We don’t have dogs. We don’t have cats.” “It is cleaning up all of the dust, then that happens.” “Okay, okay.” He says, “Now don’t worry,” as we see our cushion shrink down to this little package about this big, “Don’t worry.” He shut the vacuum off and he pulled out the cushion. He was going to show us the filter where all the dirt was, and there wasn’t a lot of dirt on it in this case, but you know, our cushion, it never, ever, ever came back to full size. We did, however, get a box of laundry detergent!

Contrast that experience with a couple of years ago, when our refrigerator broke down, and we had no place to store food because we had an unusable refrigerator, and we went to the refrigerator sales store, and there we talked to the owner. This owner didn’t need to convince us needed a refrigerator. We were already sold on it. We knew we needed it. All we wanted was some information because we were going to buy our new refrigerator.

The Thessalonians came to the Scripture much the same way we came and acted toward that vacuum cleaner salesman. They were resistant. They didn’t need a vacuum cleaner. They didn’t want a vacuum cleaner. There was a mountain of obstacles that that salesman would have had to overcome in order for us to buy the vacuum cleaner.

So many people, when they come to the Scriptures, have so many obstacles in their lives and they say, “Boy, there is a mountain before I even come to grips with the fact, or the idea, that what I need is here.”

But, the Bereans were of more “noble character.” They knew that they needed what Paul was giving to them. They knew they needed what was in the book. They acknowledged the necessity of the Scriptures, and I have to ask the question, “Is this the way you come to the Scriptures?” The Bible is necessary and essential for us if we are to know God and love Him; to accomplish His purposes for which we are created.

Job would say, in Job 23:12 (NKJV),

“…I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”

Is that the way we approach the Scriptures: “more than my necessary food?”

Jesus would say (Matthew 4:4) (NKJV),

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Jesus is saying that the Scriptures are more necessary for our life than is our daily bread.

The second characteristic of the noble Christian is that Christians of noble character trust the Scripture’s reliability.

The Bereans searched

…the Scriptures…to see if what Paul said was true…

because they trusted what the Scriptures said was true. They trusted that whatever they were going to read in the Scriptures was going to be the Truth. The Bereans’ motto was this: “If the Scriptures declare it, it’s true, plain and simple. We can trust the reliability of the Word of God.

Today critics and skeptics abound who doubt the reliability of the Bible. Bold assertions are made that “The Bible is full of errors.” “The Bible is a human book written by men who were often ignorant; ignorant of history, ignorant of science, ignorant of geography, ignorant of culture. Therefore, the words that they wrote are full of errors; full of contradictions.”

The question we ask is, “Why should we trust the reliability of the Bible?”

The first answer to that question is, and it is not acceptable to many, because God tells us to. God tells us that His Word is reliable. It is pure. It is without flaw. It is without error.

The second reason why we should trust the reliability of the Scripture is because the Scriptures are true; they have proven themselves over and over again to be reliable.

Let me give two illustrations of this from The Book of Acts.

Keep your fingers in Acts 17 and turn back to Acts 14, a passage we have studied already. There is a great verse in Acts 14:6 that demonstrates the reliability of the Scripture. This is talking of the first missionary journey. Paul and Barnabas are traveling; they are on the road, and it says,

…they found out about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and to the surrounding country…

You may ask, “What does that have to do with the reliability of the Scripture: that Paul and Barnabas fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe?”

There is a classical scholar by the name of Sir William Ramsey who came to place a strong trust in the reliability of the Scriptures and one of the reasons why he came to that conclusion was because of Acts 14:6. As a classical scholar, he would go to the places where classical literature was set, or written. For instance, Sir William Ramsey was the man who discovered the literal city of Troy. He was a scholar of great weight and great importance and as he began to study The Book of Acts, he decided he needed to go to Asia Minor, to present day Turkey. Nobody knew very much about Turkey in those days because it was very difficult to travel through that country, but Sir Ramsey went. He began his research and one of the things that he investigated was the ancient boundaries and territories of Rome, particularly territories of Pisidia and Lycaonia. Why this is interesting is because, up to this point, all the research revealed that these two cities, Lystra and Derbe, resided in different territories. One resided in Pisidia. One resided in Lycaonia, and that these two cities had been in two different provinces. So, Lystra, they said, “That city is in Pisidia, in the territory of Pisidia. Derbe, that city is in the region of Lystra,” and yet, that is not what the Bible says, is it? The Bible says that these two cities came from the same territory of Lycaonia.

Sir William Ramsey looked at the Bible and said, “Luke got it wrong,” and that was the assumption of all the scholars of the day; that Luke just didn’t understand culture, he didn’t understand the geography of the times, he was just making things up, and of course, he is going to be inaccurate. What Sir William Ramsey found, however, was that indeed these two cities, for most of their history, resided in two different territories, but he found that the boundary marker had been moved during a certain time of history and that certain time of history was between the years 37 AD and 72 AD, and that in that time, in that period of history, these two cities resided in the exact same territory; this territory of Lycaonia. What Sir William Ramsey discovered was that Luke knew much more; that this record of the Bible was much more accurate than all the research that modern scholarship had done up to that point, and that Luke, rather than being disproved as an unreliable source to find out about history, was proved to be exactly more accurate than anything they had thought up to this point.

The second illustration that I want to give to you is from Acts 17:6. It tells us that Paul and Silas are now in Thessalonica, and

…when they did not find them they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here…”

That word “city officials” is a Greek word, “polytarch,” and it is the only place where that particular term is used to describe government officials in the ancient Roman Empire, so all of the scholars that have been studying ancient Roman Empire read Acts 17:6, and said, “Well, see, here is another example of how the Bible is unreliable; how we can’t trust it, because Like, he obviously wasn’t very familiar with the government of Thessalonica or these other cities, and he just made up this term. He just pulled this term out of his hat because he didn’t know, because there is no support anywhere else, outside of Acts 17, that this term is ever applied to any Roman government official.”

Archeologists come along much later and they begin to discover certain things about Thessalonica. They find that this term appears on sixteen separate pieces of archeology. One was on one of the city gates in Thessalonica, indicating that this term was used of government officials in the Roman Empire, but only in the city of Thessalonica.

Once again, scholars who have looked at the Bible and said, “Ah, it is full of errors. Let me give you an illustration. See back in Acts 14, it tells us that Lystra and Derbe are in the same province? That is not true.” Suddenly, they find that the Bible is more reliable than anything, any other document; any other research that they had known before.

Scholars came to Acts 17, “See the Bible is not reliable. Luke gives these city officials the title of “polytarch” and there is nowhere evidence anywhere else that this title is ever used. Luke is making it up.” Along comes later research and they discover, “Well, you know, Luke was more accurate than any other source that we had.”

Beloved, I bring just these just two small examples out of dozens and dozens to indicate to you that the Bible that we have is incredibly reliable. It is reliable as a source of Truth. If you want to see errors and contradictions in the Bible like the liberal scholars do, you will find them, but I have to warn you, the path of skepticism, the path of cold criticism will not lead you to salvation. This Book is a book of Salvation and it is reliable.

The third characteristic: Christians of noble character submit to the Scripture’s authority.

Notice that the Bereans were commended for their refusal to submit blindly to Paul’s personal authority. Paul was a great man of character, but he, himself, did not want people to follow him blindly. Only the Scriptures carry the full weight of the authority of God. Why is that? Because only the Scriptures are God-breathed; only the Scriptures are God-inspired.

2 Timothy 3:16, says,

All Scripture is God-breathed…

Or is inspired by God,

…and is useful…

or profitable, for doctrine, for correction,

…for (rebuke)…and (for) training in righteousness.

When we say the Bible is “inspired” we do not mean God dictated the Message to these human authors so that they wrote just passively; God spoke in their ears and they just passively dictated it. When we say that the Bible is “inspired” we don’t mean that God infused some creative juices in them so they were able to write beautiful literature.

What we mean when we say the Bible is “inspired” and what God means when He communicates to us in 2 Timothy 3:16, that “all Scripture is God-breathed” is this, God controlled the writing of the Bible in such a way that the human authors, still using their own personalities as they wrote the exact Message with the exact words that God intended for them to write. God controlled the writing in such a way so that all the words of the Bible are God’s words, and therefore carry His absolute authority in our lives.

These noble-minded Christians in Berea submitted to the authority of the Bible. They recognized that, “What the Bible says is what we are going to believe. Whatever the Bible says about God, about Heaven, about Hell, about life, about salvation, is what we are going to believe. And whatever the Bible tells us to do, that is how we are going to behave.”

The noble attitude of these Bereans is one of absolute and utter submission to the authority of the Word of God.

The current, post-modern mindset resists any claim for authoritative Truth, and that is why we sense sometimes in our own heart just a little bit of reluctance to submit because everywhere else we are told this philosophy – that personal truth resides in each man and each woman; that this truth is to be viewed as subjective, to be changeable, to be personal, so that “You have your truth to live by. I have my truth to live by and we are encouraged, then, to be true to ourselves.”

But Jesus prayed for His Disciples this way, “Father, sanctify them in thy truth, for your word is the truth.” Jesus was indicating to us that there was only one source of authority, one source of Truth.

Friends, God wrote only one book and He calls us to submit our lives to the Truth and the direction that is found in it.

Psalm 1 (RSV) tells us,

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on that law he meditates day and night.

Notice also that the Bereans not only submitted to the Word of God but they refused to submit to any other authority and that is a huge point. They believed in what is now known as “Sola Scriptura;” “the Scripture alone being the authority.” While God is perfect, men are not, not even Godly men, not even Godly women. Thus, the Bereans did not assume that the teaching of the Bible was what some person taught. They had to say, “Okay, you tell us that this is what the Bible says, but let’s find out for ourselves. Let’s search the Scriptures to find out if what you are saying is true,” and Paul applauded the Bereans for refusing to believe his teachings simply because he said so.

God never intended for His church to have a magisterium (Greek), or teaching that stands with equal authority to the Bible. God intended for us to have one authority, and yes we listen to those who teach the Bible and we are eager to learn from others in the faith, but we rest on the authority of the Word of God alone to determine what to believe and how to behave.

Friend, I urge you, do not trust something is true just because I say it is true from this pulpit. I would urge you to go home, search the Scriptures diligently for yourselves. Do not let anyone place another authority along side the Bible as equal to it in your life.

The fourth characteristic: Christians of noble character assume the Scripture’s perspicuity. That word means “clarity.” When I told my wife, Kimberly, that this is one of the points I was going to make in the sermon, she told me, “You will be clearer if you don’t use the word ‘perspicuity’.” She is right, of course!

The Bible is a clear book. You do not have to be a scholar to understand it. For centuries, during the Dark Ages, the established church fought any notion that ordinary people could understand God’s book if they were to read it for themselves. They thought it to be dangerous for common people to have this book in their language and to read it for themselves. They thought that that would be one of the most dangerous things that could ever happen to the church, and as a result they persecuted and they hated men like John Wycliffe and William Tyndale and Martin Luther. These are men who translated the Bible from Latin, or from Greek or Hebrew, into the language of the common people and they hated them for it.

God wrote a book and God wrote a book for you. He didn’t write a book for only the scholar or the seminarian; only those who know the Greek and Hebrew well, but God wrote a book. And when He wrote a book for you, He wrote it in such a way so that it would be clear and understandable. I do not suggest that some portions of the Bible are not hard; indeed, some portions of the Bible are very difficult to understand at first reading.

As we read the Bible, we will discover that God put many of the “Cookies of Truth” on the bottom shelf; cookies that little children can come up to and grab off the shelf and eat for themselves and delight in. God also put some of those Truths on the upper shelf that require work and effort and discipline and diligence in order to enjoy. But, know this, the Bible is written in a way so that we can benefit from it when we read it. The Bible is not written in some mysterious code.

As an aside – watch out for anyone who teaches that there is a “secret, mystical code to unlocking your Bible.” That would be cruel of God to write a book in such a way as to give the book but make it inaccessible to its readers.

God gave us a book so we can understand who He is and what He desires from us and how we can have life and how we can have joy.

If you want a “code” to unlock the Bible, read it! Read it in context. Pray over it. Ask God to help you discern what it says. Read it again, and this time, have a pencil and paper in your hand, and take notes about what you have read. Read it, once again; repeat daily. This is the secret “code” that will unlock your Bible for you.

I know that there are certain rules of interpretation that are necessary for us to observe. I know that there are principles of observation in Bible study that are helpful, but if you do this much, read it. Read it carefully. Read it again. Pray over it. Ask God to help you discern for you what is there. Repeat daily. If you do just that, you know nothing else about the science of hermeneutics, or the principles of exegesis, if you simply just do that, you will be amazed what you will find written in God’s Law for you.

The fifth principle: Christians of noble character believe in the Scripture’s message.

Verse 12,

Many of the Jews believed…

I don’t know why the New International translators removed a word from the Greek text, but they did. All other good translations that I have read have this word “therefore.” If you are reading Verse 12, and you have a New International Version, you might just write in the word “therefore.”

Therefore, many of the Jews believed…(NKJV)

Luke wants us to understand that there is a deep connection between the Bereans’ eagerness to listen to teaching in regards to the Word of God, in their diligence in searching the Scriptures to see if these things are true and in their faith.

In Romans (10:17) (NKJV), God says,

…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

If we are to have faith, faith in Jesus so that we might be saved, faith in our Lord so that we might grow in our love for Him, in our enjoyment of Him, in our ability to bring Him glory, then it will be because we have read and studied the Word of God.

Therefore many Jews believed…

Searching the Scriptures must lead to faith or it has no value. Head-knowledge is not the goal. The point of Bible study is not to win at “Bible Trivial Pursuit” on a Friday night, but the purpose of searching the Scripture is to come to faith and to grow in faith.

In Romans 10:9, God says these words,

…if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart the God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

And, then it goes on to say (Verse 17),

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

If you don’t hear the Scriptures and know the Scriptures and have studied the Scriptures you will have nothing to believe in, but once you come to know them, God’s intent is not for us to allow those Truths to lay dormant somewhere in the knowledge section of our lives, but God’s intention is for us to embrace them with a faith, with a trust, with a love.

Christians are noble because they believe the Message.

The last mark: Christians of noble character search the Scriptures diligently; this is the action step.

In your bulletins, in the place where you take notes, at the bottom we have something printed, and I hope that you read it periodically. I read this from another church out in California and I thought, “This is so good. We need to have this at the bottom of our page where we take notes.”

It says: “Your responsibility by God’s enabling is to consistently apply the divine principles and truth you’ve heard (Philippians. 2:12-12, 1Timothy 4:7-9, James 1:22-27). As you meditate on this message, as yourself:

• How does God want my beliefs/actions to change?
• How can I accomplish this change;
• What is the first step toward bringing about this change?”

The action step for us would to be like the Bereans: we listen eagerly; we search the Scriptures diligently; and we live accordingly.

The joy of the Scriptures is the joy of digging Truth out for ourselves. There is joy in the personal discovery, as God the Holy Spirit, reveals Truths from the Scriptures to us.

You say, “Well, how do I begin?” Let me give you six action points and they are all short and they are all simple.

First, pick a book of the Bible to study. I don’t recommend the sort of floating around, of closing your eyes and opening the Bible and, “Okay, this is where I am going to read today,” method. Pick a book of the Bible. This book was written in an orderly fashion. Let’s study it in an orderly fashion. We can expect to find “Orderly Truth” that God intends for us to enjoy.

Martin Luther wrote, “I study my Bible like I gather my apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest may fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch, and then every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I search the Bible like a whole; like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb; study book after book. Then I shake every branch; giving attention to the chapters. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs, the sentences, the words and their meanings.”

Keep that in mind as you open up the Bible. Study it like you pick apples.

The Second Action Step: Pray that God would help you discern wonderful things from His Law. The Holy Spirit is the best commentator on the Bible that you can ever have and God’s Spirit delights to reveal Truths to His people. Pray. Ask God to help you.

Third: Read S-L-O-W-L-Y! I am tempted to write a book, “How to Read a Book S-L-O-W-L-Y” because so often we take our e-mails and we read them as quickly as possible to get through them all. That is fine for every other piece of literature, but when you come to the Bible, stop, take a deep breath, and S-L-O-W-L-Y read.

Fourth: Come to the Bible with a paper and a pen in your hand. Make observations; observations of what is written in the text, a principle that God casts light upon your soul.

Fifth: Live it out! Apply it! God’s Word is not given to us so that we can give better answers in Sunday school. God’s Word is given so that we can live more Godly lives; bring more glory to Jesus.

The Final Action Step: Talk about it to someone else. You will be amazed how God will use you as an encouragement if, as you open up the Bible like the Bereans, search the Scriptures diligently, and you come to a Christian friend and you say, “Can I tell you what God has been teaching me through His Word today? This is really something.” You will be amazed at how your words will be exactly just what that person needed at that specific time. Tell someone else.

All noble Christians devote themselves to the personal study of God’s Word. Let us not let God’s complaint in Hosea 8:12 (NASB), be true of us.

I wrote a book but they regarded it as something foreign…

indiscernible, impractical, and unimportant.

Let us ask God that He would grow in us a joy in searching the Scriptures.