nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;Acts 17:25(NASB)
It was during his second missionary journey, while staying in the city of Athens, that Paul taught certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers about the gospel of God and His great salvation – which is through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
On his arrival at Athens, Paul’s spirit was provoked, within his breast, when he saw that the city had been given over to the worship of idols and false deities. Some of the Athenian citizens dismissed Paul’s teaching as babbling, pseudo-intellectual nonsense, while others were interested in what he had to say, and asked him to explain this new doctrine to them – which they had overheard him teaching to Jews, and Gentile believers.
The men of Athens spent their time doing nothing more than hearing, or telling each other some new theory or ideology. They considered themselves to be intellectually superior to other people, and highly knowledgeable. They would spend their days in endless debates, fruitless discussions and futile arguments.
Nevertheless, Paul was brought to the Areopagus – where debates were held, and asked to explain his new teaching. Paul made two wise moves. First, he acknowledged their desire to learn, and pitched his debate at their intellectual level. He acknowledged their desire thirst for knowledge and understanding and commended them on their great religious fervour – and THEN began teaching the truth from that point.
Secondly, he started to teach these pagans from the very beginning. He began his discussion of salvation, by rehearsing the creation account, and introducing God, as the one and only true God, Who created the world and everything in it. Although Athens was overflowing with an abundance of false deities, Paul sought to correct their thinking- by pointing them to the one true, and living God of all creation.
Paul began to explain to these pagan intellectuals, that the God, Who made the world and everything in it, is the true and living Lord of heaven and earth. He explained that such a great God does not dwell in temples, which are made by men – such as the many pagan temples that lined the streets of their city.
He pointed out that the God of heaven and earth does not dwell in places, that are constructed by man, nor is He served by human hands. The pagan deities that the Athenians worshipped needed human beings to build their temples and bring them things, whereas the great God of the universe needs nothing from men – since He Himself gives life and breath, to all people, and all things.
There is no correct way to introduce the Gospel of grace to unbelievers, but there does need to be willingness to tell others about Jesus, and bring God’s message of salvation to the lost – and many missionaries have found that a good starting point, is to give others a correct understanding of the God of creation, Who made heaven and earth and everything in it – and of man whom God created in His own image, but who sinned and needs to be redeemed from sin and death and hell.
May we, who have been saved by grace through faith, make ourselves available to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that lost sinners may be given the opportunity to hear the gospel and believe, through us. our ministry – for how shall they hear if no one is willing to tell them?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of the apostle Paul, who spent his life teaching the good news of the gospel of God, so that men would hear the truth of the gospel of grace, and be saved. Give me a heart for the lost, and help me to meet the people with whom I come in contact, at their point of need, and present the gospel to them clearly and without hesitation. We pray that many would come to faith in Christ today. Raise us more men and women who will share the good news of the gospel of God in every nation and city, so that many will hear and believe that Jesus died for their sin, that He rose again and that by faith in Him, their sins are forgiven, and eternal life is their portion. This we ask in Jesus name, AMEN.
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