Thursday, August 26, 2010

Can we talk?

Acts 17 has much to say to the Church today, especially in how to dialogue with others. Paul was eloquent in showing Christians how to deal with unbelievers. In Thessalonica Paul enters familiar ground - the synagogue - to visit with his people, the Jews. Paul was a scholar, being a Pharisee with extensive training and was able to reason with the Jews on three occasions (Acts 17:2). Paul was passionate about leading his people to the Messiah (Acts 17:3). Paul was more than willing to challenge those who were familiar with the Scriptures.

How does this apply to the Church today? First, leaders in the Church need to challenge the Saints. One problem within the Church is that God's people lack basic Scriptural knowledge. Many times, it seems, the American church is content to just just show up and go through the motions. As Paul challenged his people, we need to do the same. Secondly, the message needs to be delivered with a sense of urgency. Verse three states that Paul was explaining and proving, on three occasions, the good news of Jesus. Paul was uncomfortable knowing his people were traveling a road away from Christ. How comfortable are we in our pews knowing that some in the church may not be right with God (Matthew 7:21-23)?

Later Paul travels to Athens to talk to the unbelieving gentiles. Paul finds himself face to face with the gentile scholars. Paul again is passionate and urgent in wanting to share the good news of Jesus. Verse 16 indicates that Paul was greatly distressed, in seeing the many idols. When Paul converses with the Greek philosophers, he speaks nothing of Scripture. For the Greeks, Scripture is irrelevant. What does Paul do? Paul reasons with the people on their level to explain and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Paul even quotes two known poets (Epimenides and Aratus) to make his point. Many times, when Christians dialogue with non-Christians they are uncomfortable. They (Christians) are uncomfortable because they either try to share Scripture, which may be hogwash to the unbeliever or the Christian is mute, not knowing what to say. All Christians should be familiar with the other side's issues, as Paul was, in order to share the good news.

In Thessalonica, Paul used special revelation to reason with individuals. Special revelation is God's word. When dealing with the people of Athens Paul appealed to natural revelation. Natural revelation deals with how God has revealed himself in creation. Christians need to understand how to dialogue with individuals based upon the individual or audience that is being addressed. Most importantly, Christians need to be passionate about sharing Jesus. One word of advice, Paul was not content with being a pew sitter, he knew the importance that knowledge provides in communicating with others (2 Timothy 2:15). Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that convicts, but the Holy Spirit uses the individual person of God when talking to others.

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