This question is for the Church of 2017:
What about this picture is growing increasingly rare?
Paul and Silas enter the region of Berea and head straight for the synagogues, preaching their message of salvation through faith. They present their too-good-to-be true gospel, but instead of immediately accepting it, the Bereans "received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if these teachings were true" (Acts 17:11).
That means they searched the Old Testament books to see if Jesus the Messiah was found there. They refused to embrace a new-and-improved teaching simply because it sounded good. It had to pass critical tests before they allowed themselves to be influenced by it. And because they knew God's word, they recognized that Paul's words were validated by the "whole counsel of God"(Acts 20:27). ONLY then did they accept this new message with gladness.
Where are today's Bereans? We are the most literate generation in history to be the most biblically ignorant. Scriptural counterfeits are everywhere, deceiving the masses. A flamboyant personality can rip a verse or two out of the Bible, scroll it across his TV persona, and millions instantly pronounce him a "man of God." Who is checking his doctrine? Where are the Bereans who know their Bibles and will cry out, "Not true!" The few remaining Bereans have been buried under the weighty labels of "Judgmental," "Pharisee," and "Legalistic," their voices discounted as being among the unenlightened.
So when a movie pretends to explain God by introducing universalism, shelving the Bible, and cancelling the need for repentance, do we become Bereans? No.Instead, Christians create Sunday School lesson plans around its theology. When a megachurch prosperity guru cuts-and-pastes verses from his Message Bible until the unrepentant are convinced that God only wants them to believe in themselves, do we become Bereans? No. Christians crown him "America's Pastor." Sadly, that is the kind of "pastor" America wants.
So fellow believers, the Bereans are calling to us, rebuking us, and challenging us to follow their example. Heresy quickly overtakes gullible souls without a Berean heart. The most seductive heresies are those that make us feel good and insist that love is God's sole characteristic. Those sermonettes sound like encouragement; they seem to define love. They are what we want to hear and they're ALMOST true. But if we don't know how to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), we are easy prey for the enemy's counterfeit.
How do you think the Bereans would have responded if Paul had presented Yahweh as a woman? Or what if Paul's gospel was that Jesus went to the cross so that they could believe in themselves? Do you think the Bereans would have accepted Paul or his gospel?
Me neither. Let's become Bereans!