Excerpt from Acts 17: 16-33
The Apostle Paul is, next to Jesus, clearly the most intriguing figure of the 1st century of Christianity. The primary impact he has left on Christianity after him is through his letters. The more we learn of Paul, the more we have understood him in his writings. Paul, however, did not consider himself to be a good preacher (2Cor 11:5-6); others were not impressed by his preaching (2Cor 10:10). However, when we read the Book of Acts of the Apostles, we see the immense
I have come up with seven points for which we can understand how Paul preached, and how we can be his followers.
- Paul was greatly distressed: What is the first thing you got to do when you want to evangelise? You need a heart to evangelise. The greatest need for humanity is to know the Lord. unless we are not distressed we can never evangelise fruitfully. David Wilkerson in his sermon “A Call to Anguish” says that “All true passion is born out of anguish.” Unless there is no distress in our lives, we cannot go out and reach out to God. God calls us to first be distressed over the place that we are in. As an Indian, I can relate to what Paul went through to see so many idols everywhere. And yet, I have often failed to be distressed. We are not called to be concerned but distressed. Like Nehemiah who was distressed when he heard that the wall of Jerusalem was broken. Like Abraham when he heard that Sodom is going to be destroyed. Like Jeremiah when he was put in the well and like Jesus when he cried and prayed for all of humanity.
- Studied the crowd: – When Luke mentions that the Athenians and the foreigners were philosophers doing nothing but learning new ideas – they in-fact studied the crowd. They identified as to what sort of people that Paul is going to address. As Christians, we are to get our homework done before presentation. This is important because we would want them to understand us and hence we got to understand them.
- 24. Appreciation: How many of us can actually look at something that we are distressed and turn into something that encourages listeners. Paul exactly did that. Before he presented the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he appreciated what they have. We do this in order to build a conversation and to create attention. I have noticed that many preachers and evangelists directly condemn the religious acts and then don’t get any audience. In fact, Paul appreciated that they were very religious and then bridged that he is going to speak to them about the very inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD to them.
- 24ff The Message: Never compromising on the message. Someone rightly said that if your message does not have the cross then there is no message. Nowadays, there are messages that teaches you how to live a good life on this earth. There are a lot of feel-good messages especially those that comes from the west. When anyone is not convicted of their sins and repent – they have not yet understood the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- 28-29 Knowledge: Paul used his scholarly skills to introduce Jesus Christ to them. He quoted Epimenidus who was a semi-mythical philosopher or seer from the 7th or 6th BCE. Paul also quoted Aratus who was a Greek didactic poet. Today, many such preachers do not even have a clue of what the other religions or philosophy are about. As Karl Barth said somewhere, “read the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other.” If we are serious about evangelism, we got be serious about how we do it.
- 30: A Call to Repentance: As earlier mentioned, there is no Gospel without the cross and a call to repentance. The cross and resurrection is central to the Gospel and no one will be saved outside of this.
- v32 – Some will follow: There will always people who will sneer, mock and persecute. But there are also people who will listen and submit themselves to God.