Summary: How to Present the Gospel to Materialists and Philosophers - Acts 17:16-34
How to Present the Gospel to Materialists and Philosophers - Acts 17:16-34
Illustration:A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness.
5. (Tie) Sexual lust.
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
Discipleship Journal, November / December 1992.
One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I’ll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can’t see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that’s all that matters."
Here is a similar illustration:
During the terrible days of the Blitz, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran from a building that had been struck by a bomb. In the front yard was a shell hole. Seeking shelter as quickly as possible, the father jumped into the hole and held up his arms for his son to follow. Terrified, yet hearing his father’s voice telling him to jump, the boy replied, "I can’t see you!"
The father, looking up against the sky tinted red by the burning buildings, called to the silhouette of his son, "But I can see you. Jump!" The boy jumped, because he trusted his father. The Christian faith enables us to face life or meet death, not because we can see, but with the certainty that we are seen; not that we know all the answers, but that we are known.
The following letter was found in a baking-power can wired to the handle of an old pump that offered the only hope of drinking water on a very long and seldom-used trail across Nevada’s Amargosa Desert: "This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer into it and it ought to last five years. But the washer dries out and the pump has got to be primed. Under the white rock I buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and cork end up. There’s enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one-fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll git water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you git watered up, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next feller. (signed) Desert Pete. P.S. Don’t go drinking the water first. Prime the pump with it and you’ll git all you can hold."
1. Paul noticed that worship of the true God was neglected in Athens as he noticed the large number of shrines, temples and altars to idols. We should be disturbed and moved to action when we see how people set up false images in societies around the world. (vs. 16) Paul’s introductory tone is conciliatory (vs 22) as it is important to gain respect, rapport and credibility with one’s audience. Paul’s exposition was concise (24-28) and his application was cogent (29-31)
Illustration: Keith Miller and Bruce Larson, The Edge of Adventure.
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us.
The true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit instills into the heart, simply cannot be idle.
God does not expect us to submit our faith to him without reason, but the very limits of our reason make faith a necessity.
The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we will trust him; the greater our progress in theology, the simpler and more childlike will be our faith.
J. G. Machen.
Faith is not a distant view but a warm embrace of Christ.
2. Paul used tact as he approached the Athenians with considerateness while awakening their interest without arousing prejudice. (vs 22). He was fair in recognizing the hearer’s position, finding common starting points. (vs 23) He was truthful in stating positively as well as negatively of the God’s essential attributes. (24,25) He spoke of God’s fatherhood as attractive in uplifting the power of the Gospel. (26,27) He spoke to the inner consciousness of people devoting secular wisdom to sacred use. (28,29) He reminded them that ignorance is not only wrong but sin while declaring God’s full revelation. (30,31) He trusted God to use His ministry refusing to be discouraged when his efforts did not show outstanding success and leaving all results to God. (vs 32-34)