The gospel must be presented in a way that is easy for people in different cultures to understand!
In the Part 2 we will see how Paul taught the gospel to them in a way they would understand. Read Acts 17:17-31
When Paul reasoned with the Athenians, he did not expect them to come to faith the way he did, by becoming devout Jews and then Christians. Instead, he started with their worldview and with what they knew. Then, he laid a foundation for sharing the gospel with them. Paul began by applauding the Athenians for wanting to explore and seek the truth since they gave him the opportunity to talk about the gospel to a large group of them.
After Paul was taken into the Areopagus to explain his message to them, he started his speech by affirming the good. He then commended them for being religious and then made the transition from their culture’s idea of the divine to biblical truth, commenting on the unknown god they worship ignorantly and teaching them the truth about who God was. Paul wanted to acknowledge that he understood where the Athenians were coming from before he shared the gospel with them. He wanted to explain that he was not ignorant about their ways before critiquing their beliefs.
Instead of introducing a god they had never heard about, he pointed out the fact that they already knew something was missing in their belief system. After all, why would they have and altar with the inscription “To an Unknown God”? From there, Paul built toward sharing the gospel. He started by sharing how man-made idols are not necessary. After all, why would anyone want to worship a god they could make? In other words, he proclaimed the existence and self-sufficiency of the God of Scripture. Paul rebuked them, saying that all these idols are useless and meaningless. Instead, the real divine nature is both holy and above us, all-knowing and all-powerful, personal and intimate. This is the type of God the Athenians truly wanted and were deeply seeking.
The same is true for us today in the twenty-first century. There is a hole in each of our hearts that only God can satisfy and fill. The world tries to convince us we can satisfy ourselves by filling that hole with idols of our own making like, sex, fame, money, possession, drugs, and alcohol. But this never works, it leaves us empty and longing for more. The only thing that will truly satisfy is the true and living God who created us, sustains us and desires for us to have a relationship with Him. He is the one who fills and satisfies the longing of our hearts.
Paul tells them a critical truth that they either accept or reject. He tells that God provided proof of this being who said He was by raising Jesus from the dead. Let’s see how they respond – read Acts 17:32-33
The Athenians’ response varied. Some people ridiculed him because resurrection was such a strange concept in their culture. When you share the gospel with those who are far from God, you need to know that it’s not you who saves them it is God who does the work in their hearts. We just need to be faithful to share because: Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of Christ. The best response to those who reject, ridicule, or laugh is to end the conversation and begin interceding for them through prayer. Pray that God would soften their hearts to the truth of the gospel and the He would change them.
When you share the gospel with others, you will encounter some who want to continue the discussion and ask more questions, just like some of the Athenians. In situations like these, allow them to ask questions and do your best to answer. If you do not know an answer, then find it out together with them. The key is sharing the gospel, but sadly, there are many Christians today who know what the gospel is, but fail to share it with others. The gospel is not only for knowing but also for sharing. So, pray for the lost in your neighborhood and at school. Engage with them, develop friendships with them, and look for opportunities to share the gospel with them through words and actions.
If you faithfully and consistently share the gospel with others, you will possibly see God transform many individuals. When this happens, make sure they are part of a local church that can disciple them. You need to disciple them and help them understand what it means to be a follower of Christ and help them become involved in the life of the church, and meet with them one-on-one. Not only do we need to be intentional at starting spiritual conversations but we need to be familiar with and comfortable with communicating the gospel. Knowing the gospel and speaking the gospel are two different things.
What do you do?
(Practice telling God’s story – the gospel – from Creation to Judgment)