Sermons

Summary: Consider how to address people who respond in these four ways to truth

Four Responses to the Truth

(Acts 17:32-34)

Quote: I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Source Unknown.

1. Why do some people respond differently to the truth of God’s word? Dr. Luke records four types of responses to Paul’s passionate message of truth.

A. The first group regards truth as food for mental stimulation. Instead of letting the message reach their heart, they only allow it to tickle their intellects for cerebral exercise. Secular education has a way of dulling human sensitivities to truth.

B. The second group sees the truth as a means of entertainment. They enjoy using it as canon fodder for mocking the messenger. It is sad that what seems like a comedy for some people will someday turn into a tragedy.

C. The third group, which represents the majority of hearers, procrastinated. They felt that one day they would become serious about what God has to say or when they really needed solutions for their problems.

D. The fourth group represents the minority. Some people placed their faith in Christ. The Dionysians listened and trusted and obeyed God’s truth. Never be discouraged if you are in the minority. Be assured that the group is promised spiritual success fruit and eternally blessing.

Ask the Lord to help you to concentrate more of your communications to the fourth group of people. Christ promised to produce a bountiful harvest of thirty, sixty and a hundred fold.

2. Paul knew that his audience also contained people who were favorable, neutral, and antagonistic so he provided each group with reasons for believing in Christ. By relying on the persuasive power of the Holy Spirit, Paul did not grow discouraged.

Paul knew that some of his listeners would allow the truth to be choked out by individual’s worries, riches or troubles of this life. Still, Paul insisted, “Now is the acceptable time of salvation.”

Ask the Lord to help you preach, teach and communicate the truth effectively to all levels of receptivity.

3. Paul expected that some of his listeners would hear and mock the messenger. Do not get frustrated if some scoff at you for standing up for what is true. Most people mock because they fear the truth or what changes it might require of them. Other people mock when they are made guilty by the truth.

Occasionally people mock when they do not understand the truth or fail to comprehend its meaning. Finally, people mock when they let their emotions take control instead of yielding any part of their mind, will or hearts to Jesus.

Ask the Lord to help you take the shield of faith against all types of mockery.

4. Paul knew that wide is the gate that leads to destruction, but the narrow is the gate that leads to life and few find it.

Ask the Lord to help you concentrate on speaking more to the spiritually hungry and hurting.

5. Paul looked for the listeners who demonstrated discriminating, discerning and determination to know truth.

Do not just look for gullible learners. Teach people how to be catalysts, change agents, clarifiers, elaborators, interpreters and models for the majority of their community.

Trust the Lord to help you work through the key listeners who can work through their natural networks.

6. Paul looked for listeners who were attentive to the facts, emotions, ideas, implications, illustrations, and applications of the truth.

There will always be open hearts.

Believe that they will be people who are willing to lay aside their filters to the truth.

Trust God to help you speak in a way that delivers the substance of the truth in the most palatable means.

7. Paul emphasized real life benefits to his listeners.

Ask the Lord to help you bridge the gap between the ideals of truth and the applications to peoples’ realities.

8. Paul was not afraid to entertain questions and debate about truth.

Equip yourself in the skills of dialoguing with your listeners to help them digest the truth.

Ask the Lord to relate to hurting people.

The best communication is relevant, interesting and problem-solving.

Conclusion:A few years ago gifts to the Prarie Bible Institute of Alberta, Canada, declined from a certain geographical area. At that time the school’s president, Dr. Maxwell, had undergone two operations for cataracts, one on each eye. When a representative of the school was visiting in that particular area, a donor asked why Dr. Maxwell was riding around in two Cadillacs. Communicating the truth is not easy and requires wisdom, study and the leading of the Spirit.

Resources, No. 2.

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