The notes today are on Acts 17:16-34 and have been written by Mark Miller
“Show Me The Way……”
Paul has again completed a marathon trip and arrived in Athens. He didn’t just crash in his hotel room and immerse himself in lone bible study; he walked around the town and took in his surroundings. This enabled him to chat to locals and engage in their issues
I once went to an evangelistic event where the speaker was a man called Luis Palau. During his message he held up a local newspaper and started talking about local issues. The fact that an international speaker was talking about things that affected me and my town was strange. It did help me feel like there was now a common bond between us. His relaying home news helped endear the audience to him as it showed he had taken the time to find out about us, he had made a connection with us on a local level.
Paul is asked to speak to a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. These were people who emphasised rational over emotion. They were pantheistic, meaning that they believed God is everything and everyone and everyone and everything can be God. That belief denies that God has a personality and that he is someone who cares.
Paul, knowing these ideas, takes the counsel of the Areopagus on a journey. He starts off with the wonder of creation, something they could all relate to, then he gradually moves them through various truths before finally bringing them all to the Cross.
See how Paul shapes his message. He starts with creation (v24), something his listeners have grown up with and have a system of worship for. Paul then starts to narrow the scope of his message. He directs it from a God who created the world and all it contains to a God who created and is interested in countries (v26). From nations Paul then tapers his thoughts in even further and introduces a creator God who is interested in his best creation – people (v27). He finishes by relating this massive God who made the world to a ‘man he has appointed (v31) and who had died for them.
Paul shows a mastery of dialogue in tailoring the gospel to fit exactly the minds and thought processes of his listeners.
Did Paul finish his message? (v32) it seems he was interrupted and heckled at the mention of Jesus rising again. Three reactions to the message are then presented to us, outright rejection, the desire to ponder and return to it another time or complete acceptance.
We, in our witnessing, will encounter the same reactions and be must prepared for them.
Paul didn’t need a special venue to preach the gospel. He didn’t wait until the time was right or his sermon was ready. See how the Lord led him from one arena to another. He started speaking in the market place (v17)
and ended up speaking before philosophers and people of culture (v21)
The Lord has plans for us and if we follow his will whether we are in school, college, home or work, we will find ourselves amongst the people the Lord wants us to witness too.
Let us pray asking for direction and then expect to be led to the right person today.