When Paul was preaching in Berea, his audience was commended because "they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). If the Bible is our final authority, a preacher's authority exists only when his message comes from the Bible. When the Bible is ignored, a passage is divorced from its context, or it used as a springboard to some unrelated topic, the preacher is not speaking with authority. Instead, he is merely sharing a personal opinion. The elevation of personal opinions to the same level as the Word of God is dangerous and leads to spiritual abuse!
Therefore, like the Bereans, you must search "the scriptures daily, whether those things [are] so." As the pastor preaches, follow along in your Bible and think through the passage for yourself. Does the passage say what the preacher says it does? Does it support his points or thesis? Do you see how he came to his conclusion? If the answers to these questions are unclear, it's okay to ask your pastor about them! This Sunday be sure to:
- Follow along with your pastor as the Bible is read.
- Make note of any passages that are referenced but not read in order to look up when you get home.
- Listen carefully to how he explains and applies the passage.