Proper Examination

Every year at the Oklahoma Preacher Training Camp we would learn how to write, and present a sermon. Each year the material was (basically) the same, but the theme was always different. One year we had a construction theme. Another year, a golf theme. One year we had a theme centering around CSI. The point of the theme was to examine the evidence. We were told of the importance to both examine the evidence and present that evidence in order for the listener to make an educated decision (similar to what a forensic scientist would do in order to determine the murderer at a crime scene).

This idea of examining the evidence has always stuck with me. Whenever I make a decision I try to gather all the facts I can before drawing a conclusion. I ask people about their side, I listen to othersman_with_magnifying_glass involved in the situation, I even look at unbiased material if the opportunity is there. It seems like it would be common sense to thoroughly examine a situation before drawing a conclusion. Unfortunately, this sense is not all that common anymore.

When we read through Acts 17 our mind typically focuses on the Bereans. We read about how much more noble they were because they received the word with eagerness and they studied to see if it were true (17:11-12). While I believe they serve as a great example of the common sense I referred to earlier, they are not who I want to focus on. I instead want to look those they were nobler than…the Thessalonians.

As chapter 17 opens we see Paul doing what he always did when visiting a town…preaching. In fact, it says that Paul was “explaining and proving” things about Christ (17:3, ESV). Paul is laying down the facts for these people. Some believed, but many reacted by saying:

“But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:5-6).

Paul laid down facts about Christ and this upset the Jews who did not believe in Christ. This is where the big difference between the Bereans and Thessalonians come in. The Berean Jews heard what Paul presented and studied it to see if it were true. These Thessalonian Jews heard what Paul presented and, instead of seeking the truth, they got angry. Instead of examining the evidence further, they formed a mob, put the city in an uproar and tried to chase Paul out of town.

Many of these Jews in Thessalonica weren’t interested in facts. They didn’t want to examine the situation further, instead they wanted to react on what they already perceived to be true. Unfortunately, we do the same thing all too often. When we hear a rumor what is our response? Many times, I’m afraid we just accept it as true. When we hear a Bible teaching that contradicts what we already believe, do we examine Scripture to find out if we’re wrong or do we say “I believe what I believe and I’m not budging?” We’ve got to get back to examining evidence. When we hear of a Biblical teaching we don’t agree with don’t just write it off. Examine the Scriptures to see what they have to say about the subject. When we hear a rumor about someone don’t accept it as fact right away. Examine the evidence. Talk to them about it. Ask them “is this true.”

Failure to examine evidence results in a lazy belief system (“I believe what I believe and that won’t ever change”). Failure to examine evidence results in people getting hurt (“I heard this about you so it must be true”). It leads to false accusations, hurt feelings, ruined lives, broken friendships and hollow beliefs. I urge you to not let rumors become facts. Learn, study, and please, examine the evidence. -Jack D.


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