In the Image of Christ
Colossians 3:8-11

“Zeal without knowledge or Apathetic Christians”

     "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."  Acts 17:11 (KJV)

        Professing Christianity is headed down a very dangerous road. Society and many “Christian leaders” have taught us to believe that anything with the word “Christian” attached to it is an acceptable part of the Christian walk and lifestyle. In reality many things that have been accepted into the Christian circle are things that are not of God nor could they be supported by His Word. They may have a big following, but that does not make them Christian. The kingdom of God is not a democracy and things are not decided by majorities nor by voting. Things like Promise Keepers, The National Day of Prayer, so-called “Christian” psychology, and even holidays such as Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, in the light of God’s Word are things surrounded with many questions. Unfortunately most professing Christians do not use the principles of God’s Word to discern whether something is of God or not. They just follow the crowd or do what they have always done, no questions asked. Our text, Acts 17:11, should help us with the basic principles for checking things out to see if Christians ought to be involved in them.

        During the days of the early church, a revolution was taking the world by storm. The Jews were being taught that the Law of Moses was no longer to be kept, the sacred days and feast were no longer of any significance, and the High Priest need not sacrifice in the temple any longer.  The gentiles were being taught that this one called Jesus who was born of a virgin, crucified on a cross, and whose body had been in the belly of the earth for three days, had risen from the grave and is the one true God that can save people from their sins. This doctrine was literally turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

        There is a group of people in the Scriptures that is commended as noble for its approach to the things that were being taught by the apostles and disciples of Jesus at that time (Acts 17:11).  Let’s look and see why these people were commended. The first thing to take note of is they received the Word of God with all readiness of mind. These people accepted the Word of God with a zeal and eagerness that was noted as being noble. But the Scriptures go on to tell us that not only did they receive the Word with readiness of mind, but also they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they had been taught was what the Scriptures actually said. They were comparing what they had been taught to what the Word of God said. For them this would have been a much more difficult task because they were doing this with just the Old Testament. Back then the New Testament was not yet completely written, let alone compiled in this nice neat format we have today. My friends, we still have the same responsibility to examine things in the light of God’s Word today.

    "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."  2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

        The message that was turning the world upside down so many years ago is still the same today. Jesus is the one born of a virgin, was crucified on a cross for all sins, was buried for three days, and is risen from the dead. We to need to search the Scriptures to see if what we are being taught, by pastors and teachers, aligns with what we read in God’s Word. But I believe there are many other things that need to be examined according to the Scriptures to see if they are the things of God. Not just the Gospel message, but all teaching and practices.

        2 Timothy 2:15 gives us the reason to examine these para-church organizations, holidays, activities, music, and all other so called “Christian” things, and the reason is so we can be approved unto God. How sad it must be for the Lord, to see one, that He gave His life for, to become involved with a organization or practice a holiday that is actually dishonoring Him, simply because they didn’t bother to examine it by the Word that He gave us so we wouldn’t be deceived or confused about things. The same verse goes on to tell us that in studying to be approved unto God we will be workman that need not be ashamed. The studious student, like the Bereans, will not as easily be taken in by false teachers and doctrines contrary to what we have been taught and therefore need not be ashamed when we meet the one who died for us and wrote His Word down that we might test all things. You cannot be a workman that is unashamed or approved unto God until the final statement in this verse is practiced and that is rightly dividing the word of truth. It is not only essential that a Christian read his Bible so that he will know what God has to say and teach, but also that all things from without can be tried by the Word of God. It is through this practice that men will be able to discern false prophets and false doctrine. Friends, this is not only the responsibility of our elders or pastors, but also and equally as important, it is a personal responsibility of each and every born again child of God, that we may be approved unto Him and not be ashamed. Study and workman are words that speak of effort; they tell us clearly that it is going to be work on our part.

        Since we live in a day and age in which there are many antichrists (1 John 2:18, “against” or “instead of” Christ), false teachers (2 Peter 2:1), and so called Christian activities among us, it is imperative that we examine all things in the light of the Word of God. God instructs us to, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Things are “good” because they have been proven to be so in the light of the Word, not because we like them or they are our tradition. The questions is not, “what harm is there in it?” but “is it positively good in the light of Scripture?”. Personal likes, sentimentality and popularity have nothing to do with the Scriptural test. Why should we examine things instead of just going along with the crowd and tradition? The purpose of this is clear in the following passage.

  "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."  Ephesians 4:14 (KJV)

        God wants us to be stable in His Word. He wants us to be able to discern the lies of men that are out to deceive us and to scatter the flock instead of edifying and building up the body. If we study the Scriptures and examine things according to them as the Bereans did, we will no longer be tossed to and fro as children but will become able bodied Christians. Remember, Satan is able to transform himself into a minister of light. The things he throws into the path of a believer may look good on the outside but when examined according to the holy Word of God they will begin to be unveiled for what they  truly are. The Bereans were commended for checking out what they were being taught, and if they were being taught by the great and godly apostle Paul himself, how much more diligent we need to be with all that constantly comes our way with the “Christian” label on it. One of the devil’s greatest tools against a true Christian is to get him sidetracked, involved in things that are contrary to the Word of God and detrimental to his spiritual purity and spiritual health. Even little things can cause a loss of spiritual power and reduce our effectiveness for Christ. Satan, our adversary,  stands and accuses the brethren before the Lord, he is a murderer and a deceiver, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. In other words, he is a formidable enemy.

         Friend, don’t be an apathetic Christian. Let’s be like the Bereans and instead of being sentimental, or following tradition or the crowd, let’s be Scriptural. We should study the Bible, to show ourselves approved unto God. In so doing we can unmask the things of Satan and expose them for what they are. In like manner we will better understand Gods Word and no longer be tossed to and fro. Nourished by the Word of God, we can grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

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