When I was growing up, it seemed like everything my pastor said was absolute truth – like it came straight from God’s mouth. Without realizing it, I put his sermons on the same level of authority as what I read in The Bible. After a while, I stopped reading The Bible altogether and just took his word for it.
I later found out that God doesn’t want it to be that way.
In the book of Acts, we read about the Apostle Paul and his incredible career as a missionary. He traveled all over the Mediterranean world, planting churches in strategic cities like Ephesus and Corinth.
During his journeys, Paul encountered a variety of reactions to his message. Sometimes the Gospel of Christ was met with joy and acceptance, and other times with anger and physical threats.
In one encounter, Paul was forcefully driven out of Thessalonica, a city in northern Greece. After leaving, he went down the road to a smaller town called Berea.
In Acts 17:11, we read about how the people in Berea reacted to Paul’s message:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character 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.
It’s pretty remarkable that the Bereans were praised for fact checking the Apostle Paul! They eagerly searched the Scriptures to verify what he had said, and they were called 'more noble' for doing so.
This means two things for us:
1. We need to consistently read the Bible, because it is the one definitive source of truth.
2. When it comes to the truth about God, we are not supposed to simply take someone’s word for it – no matter who they are.
People are imperfect. God is not. There is no person, however ‘holy’ they might seem, whose teachings can replace or override Scripture.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t trust your pastors or other Christian leaders in your life? Absolutely not! It simply means that you cannot rely solely on what they say. Their teachings or advice should never serve as a substitute for your own consistent, prayerful study of The Bible.
God’s Word is the standard against which we should measure anything that we think is true, or that someone else tells us is true.
But don’t take my word for it.