BEARING WITNESS TO A PAGAN PEOPLE

Scripture Reading:  Acts 17:22-34

“So Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.  For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, To an Unknown God.  What therefore you worship as unknown, that I proclaim to you.'” (Acts 17:22,23)

Our passage today is the address that Paul made to the Athenian philosophers and intellectuals on Mars Hill, which was the place were the guardians of the city’s religion, moral and education met for discussion and debate.  Paul stood before these highly esteemed individuals and gave a brilliant defense of his faith.

Let me first point out that even though Paul’s spirit was provoked by what he saw in Athens (v. 16) — the paganism, idolatry and hedonism of Athens — nevertheless he did not become reactive.  He did the opposite — he became proactive.  While he was irritated by the blasphemous things he saw, he engaged the people of Athens by actively witnessing and proclaiming the gospel boldly.  Paul did not just rail againt the pagan culture, he engaged the culture by quoting from some of its own writers and poets.  He was able to speak their language in a respectful way and yet he did not hold back from proclaiming the truth to the people.

Paul could have been easily intimidated by the scholars and philosophers on Mars Hill, but he was not.  He had the truth and he knew he had been entrusted with the gospel.  Therefore he trusted the Holy Spirit to give him the words he needed.

I have found that there have been times when I felt intimidated by certain worldly people.  Some are highly educated intellectuals.  Yet they need the gospel desperately.  The gospel is God’s truth and we are called to share it with all people.  God does the work of salvation; we are only His messengers.  The gospel is the power of God for salvation, including skeptics, intellectuals and pagan philosophers.

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I become intimidated or fearful of people.  I know that the gospel is Your power for salvation.  Let me never shrink back from sharing it.

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