The Ultimate Authority

Acts 16:1–10; 17:1–11

That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. (Acts 17:10–11)

A man from Macedonia had said, “Come over and help us.” God had in mind a seller of purple, an exploited slave girl, and a rugged, brutal Roman jailer. When you travel as God would have you travel, like Paul, you’re sensitive to doors that open and at peace with doors that close.

Later, Paul appealed to Rome. Upon discovering he had tortured Roman citizens, the ruling magistrate shook with fear. Realizing he had illegally acted against these two men, the official begged Paul and Silas to leave Philippi to avoid further civil unrest.

The consummate church founder forged ahead, flanked by the faithful companionship of his co-workers. Next stop: Thessalonica. Paul, in keeping with his MO, returned to his preferred place to start, in the synagogue. Many believed, including a large number of Greek men and influential women. That was sufficient to stir jealousy among the Jewish leaders to the point that Paul and his team were forced to escape under the cloak of darkness (17:10).

From there, they entered Berea and again preached in the local synagogue. A more sophisticated crowd than the folks in Thessalonica, the Bereans’ eagerness led them to examine “the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (17:11).

I can’t pass up this opportunity to say what a fine example they were to emulate. No matter how gifted or charismatic or well-trained and experienced your Bible teacher or pastor may be, form the healthy habit of checking what is being said against the Scriptures.

Architects and construction people use precise measurement to ensure a precise result. They don’t go by how they feel. Both carefully mark their work by inches and by feet. Not even seasoned builders rely on guesses and hunches. They stay with the standard. The Scriptures are your measuring tool for making sure the teaching you receive is straight and true. Keep comparing.

As you grow in your spiritual life, the triangles need to be congruent between what’s being said and what has been written in the Bible. If you can’t support it with the Scriptures, there’s something missing in the teaching. Don’t believe the teacher. If he or she contradicts the divine standard, you’re building on sand. Stay with the Scriptures. They remain your ultimate authority for faith and life.

Taken from Great Days with the Great Lives by Charles Swindoll. Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll. Used by permission of HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

Posted in Bible, Pastors and tagged .

Accuracy, clarity, and practicality all describe the Bible-teaching ministry of Charles R. Swindoll. Chuck is the chairman of the board at Insight for Living and the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. Chuck also serves as the senior pastor of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where he is able to do what he loves most—teach the Bible to willing hearts. His focus on practical Bible application has been heard on the Insight for Living radio broadcast since 1979.