The Marvelous Bible (Acts 17:11-12)
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
We just read Acts 17:11. Although I am now a pastor, when I was in university, I was quite lost. If I had to describe my family’s religion, we were Buddhists. There was no one in my family who went to church. I wandered a bit, pursuing the meaning of life. When I went to university, many people approached me through evangelism.
At that time, I was actually searching for the meaning of life, so I asked them a few questions. One of them was, for example, “It is said that Jesus was born from the virgin Mary, but it is hard to believe. Do you have any evidence to prove it?” They provided an answer to that. What do you think it was? Have you had similar experiences? They responded, “It says so in the Bible.” Because I didn’t believe in the Bible, I wasn’t satisfied with that answer. So, I said, “You are Christians who believe in the Bible as a sacred religious book and base you faith on it. But since I’m not a believer, I can’t accept that. Do you have any other evidence?” From what I can remember, I don’t think I ever received a satisfactory answer. Another question I had was, “It says God created heaven and earth, but do you have proof of it?” Again, the answer I received was, “The Bible says so.” So, it was hard for me to accept that.
Do you have a Bible with you today? It might be your first time at church today, but after a few weeks at church, you will probably continue with Bible study. For those who prefer reading on their smartphones nowadays, the Bible may seem like a very thick book to read. However, the contents of the Bible are not actually that difficult. All you need to do is to grasp what God has put in it.
The Bible is divided into two parts. One is the Old Testament, and do you know what the other is? The New Testament. Both of them are referred to as testaments, signifying covenants. These are covenants or promises made between God and man. The Old and New Testament are divided based on the presence of Jesus Christ. People without faith do not believe that Jesus is the Christ. “Christ” means “the One sent by God” or “the Savior from God”.
Indeed, Jesus came to the earth approximately 2000 years ago, and the Old and New Testament are divided based on His arrival. The Old Testament was first recorded around 3,500 years ago and was a book read by people of faith until the time of Jesus Christ, which is roughly 2,000 years ago from today. The New Testament started to be written approximately 2000 years ago from now. Many people have a misconception of the Bible that the whole book was written by a single individual with great knowledge. The authors of the Bible lived during different periods spanning about 1,500 years, from 3500 years to about 2000 years ago from today. The Bible consists of 66 books, and they were written by different people at different times. The Old Testament mainly consists of prophecies. Specifically, we believe that these prophecies are written about Jesus Christ. The New Testament, on the other hand, focuses on the fulfillment of these prophecies, describing His arrival on Earth, explaining His actions, and how they relate to us today.
However, within the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments, we can discover something remarkable. In the passage we just read from Acts 17, there is a man named Paul. He was originally devoted to the Old Testament. However, one day he realized that the One prophesied about in the Old Testament was none other than Jesus, and he began to testify about Jesus. As he started testifying about Jesus, He began to experience the amazing power of the living God. Moreover, he began to witness the words promised by Jesus, even though He had never seen Jesus in person, coming to fulfillment upon him. As experienced so many incredible things, he went through various places to spread Jesus. It can be said that he was preaching the Gospel, which essentially means testifying about Jesus.
He traveled through the Turkish region that is now Turkey and continued into Europe. From Europe, he went over to the region which is now Greece and then arrived at Berea. Upon arrival, he encountered a group of people who were believers in the Old Testament, namely the Jews. So, he went to where they had gathered and testified his personal experiences. This passage is where he was speaking to the Jews about his experiences.
He shared with them the events that occurred in Jerusalem. He conveyed to them that this man named Jesus was believed to be doing God’s work, but He was arrested and crucified on a cross. Not only that, He was raised from the dead after three days and ascended to heaven. It sounds quite silly. If we were to tell this to someone on the streets today, there would likely be few who would believe us.
Even the people who had a strong belief in the Old Testament found it difficult to believe in Jesus. According to the Old Testament, the Savior of the world was expected to come as a king. However, Jesus was saying unusual things, claiming that He is equal to God and in the end, He was captured by people and subjected to a cruel crucifixion. It was hard for them to accept Him as the Savior foretold in the Old Testament. Paul was testifying about this very person, Jesus.
When Paul preached about Jesus, he emphasized the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, the miraculous event of Jesus coming back to life after death. After listening to Paul’s words, the people in Berea showed a different response to the people of Thessalonica. The Thessalonians reacted by saying, “This man is speaking strangely! He is talking about something entirely different from our faith, and his words are weird. Let’s kill him!” They even went as far as planning to kill him.
However, the Bereans were different. Their response was different. Bereans listened to what Paul had to say, even though it sounded unusual and difficult to believe. But they checked the Bible which they had. Paul’s preaching was something new to them, and what he shared with them was about events that occurred in Jerusalem, a distinct land. They couldn’t simply make a phone call to Jerusalem to confirm the accuracy of Paul’s words. Instead, they relied on their own Bible to check.
They had faith that if Paul’s preaching was really true, then what had been written in the Bible they had been studying for over a thousand years, handed down from their ancestors, would align with the events in Jerusalem. It was a remarkable faith. The Bible that they had been studying for many generations since their ancestors’ time coincided with all that took place in Jerusalem. The Bible and a real-life events corresponded with each other. That was what they aimed to confirm. Although it might have appeared unusual by common sense, the Bereans examined the Bible. When they examined the Bible from the beginning, they discovered that everything that happened to Jesus matched what was written in the Bible. Moreover, it was not just one or two points that aligned. When they heard about what Jesus had done and then examined the Bible, even the parts that had seemed unclear to them before became clear. They exclaimed, “Oh, so this is what it means!”
For example, there is a passage in the Bible that says, “We all, like sheep, had gone astray. Each turned to his own way.” The sheep went their own ways. But God had placed our sins upon Him. And He carried our sins like a sheep led to the slaughter. Previously, they didn’t understand what these words meant when they read them. But after listening to all that happened to Jesus Christ, they realized the words in the Bible coincided with Him. Also, in another passage in the Old Testament, it says, “When that day arrives, the demons will be expelled!” And truly, this One called Jesus, who came, did that unique work of driving out demons.
In this manner, people began to search the Old Testament to see how many things that were written about Jesus had actually happened. Nowadays, theologians believe that over twenty thousand prophecies were fulfilled. Thus, countless records in the Bible align with the life of Jesus. When the people of Berea examined the Bible, even though they were not scholars, they found that the Bible perfectly matched what Paul said. As a result, they came to believe, saying, “Ah, this person called Jesus, who died and was resurrected, must truly be the Son of God!” They developed faith. This is the faith of Christians.
Our faith is not merely about having a passionate feeling in our hearts or relying solely on personal experiences. Instead, it involves first confirming the truth of the words written in the Bible. What do these words in the Bible say? They proclaim that God will send a Savior for fallen humanity. Why send a Savior? Because otherwise, humanity would face destruction.
When we examine the life of Jesus Christ, it aligns perfectly with the Bible. That is why we have faith in the Bible. Because we experienced many of these things, seeing how the words in the Bible are fulfilled, we Christians, as believers, highly esteem the Bible and never underestimate its value. We believe that every word in the Bible will be fulfilled.
So, if we look at what it means to become a Christian from another perspective, it can be seen like this: Christians are those who believe that the words of the Bible will certainly come to be fulfilled. That’s why we read the Bible. We read it during worship, but also every day, because we know that those words in the Bible are fulfilled upon us.
After Jesus came, everything that He did and said were also written. That is the New Testament, and even those words will be fulfilled. Just as the prophecies in the past, which foretold the coming of Jesus, were fulfilled, the words spoken by Jesus Himself will surely be fulfilled upon those who believe in Him. The central focus is all on Jesus.
Jesus said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”. Now, two thousand years later, as someone who had lived almost half of my life without Jesus, would it be easy accepting Jesus? I had a lot of resistance towards it. However, I held onto the written words of the Bible – the very words spoken by Jesus, and prayed before God like this. “If You truly exist, God, let Your word be fulfilled in me!” And surprisingly, that word did come true. Many of God’s promises, which were originally spoken by Jesus and written by His disciples 2000 years ago, are now being fulfilled in my life, 2000 years later. That’s what makes it so remarkable.
To believe in Jesus means experiencing the words in the Bible being fulfilled upon us. These marvelous words come true upon us. Believers in Jesus are truly incredible. For example, I started to experience things I had never imagined before. Jesus said, “If you believe in Me, you will witness miracles and marvelous things like this: when you lay hands on the sick, they will recover.” So, I laid my hands on the sick.
Three months after I began to believe in Jesus, I went to serve in the army. I had only been a believer for three months, but isn’t faith something that requires training? But when I went to training camp, I noticed that there were many sick people. So, just as I believed and as it is written in the Bible, I laid my hands on the sick. During those few weeks at the training camp, I had quite a number of experiences. When I prayed for a person with leg pain, their leg stopped hurting. When I prayed for another person with a headache, the headache disappeared. So, I said to them, “I’ll pray for you, so let’s go to church together!” “Okay, as long as I can get well, I’ll come!” And I brought many people to church.
These events started to happen from the moment I started believing in Jesus, and continued to occur afterward. At first, there were people with headaches and leg pains, but later on, a blind person came to me. I placed my hands on him, just as it is written that if we lay hands on the sick, they will recover. Of course, during that time, about ten blind people came to me. Not all ten were healed, but two of them were. There were also deaf people who came, and two of them were able to hear again. Even individuals with paralysis and partial paralysis were healed. What is written in the Bible is indeed fulfilled to us.
Furthermore, when we pray in Jesus’ name, He said, “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be done.” This word, too, is fulfilled upon us. Before I believed in Jesus, there were so many things I wanted to do but could not. Because I lacked money, and I was filled with worries about the future, which prevented me from pursuing my desires. However, after I believed in Jesus, I gained a deep conviction in my heart, “Ah, this will be pleasing to God!” So, even when I lack the financial means or when circumstances don’t allow me to, I still act on the belief. Everything else comes along. I experience remarkable things in my life. It is to the point that people around me wonder, “How do you live by doing only the things you want to do?”
Christians possess such remarkable authority because the fascinating Bible has become our own. Faith life is a life in which the Bible is fulfilled. If you leave the Bible closed and touched, it may appear worthless. It would be a boring book that only gets dust piled on it. However, this book is a marvelous book. God’s promise is there. Those who believe and place their trust in these promises will certainly see them fulfilled. Whether the book was written 2000 years ago or 3500 years ago, it is still accomplished in us. Why? Because the One who oversees the composition of this book is none other than the living God Himself.
Therefore, when you first come to church to begin your faith life, you may follow a friend or be attracted by the church’s atmosphere. However, what you truly need to understand is that the words written in the Bible will be fulfilled upon you, and you should have the confidence to experience the beautiful promises contained in the Bible. I bless you in Jesus’ name that you will be able to lead such faith lives. I’ll pray.
God our Father, we thank You for giving us this marvelous book, the Bible. We pray that You help those gathered here to love this book, written by You, and to experience the wonder of the words within it that are certain to come true. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen!
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center