Adapting the Gospel to Your Hearers

"Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, HIM I proclaim to you" - Acts 17:22-23

The Lord is near. These are such beautiful words to consider. He is near and calling out to the multitudes all over this planet but all the noise, busyness, distractions, temptations, and idolatrous worship are far too often getting in the way. The problem is that there are too many voices speaking too many diverse things that a person must be able to differentiate between the truth and the lie. Satan loves to deaden the voice of God and to elevate the voice of man to give people all kinds of imaginary ideas, self-seeking ideals, and a desire to turn anything and everything into an idol to replace the worship of God.

But God sent His Son to bring salvation to the world and to enlighten their eyes. He sent His Spirit to "convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). Now He sends His servants to bring the Good News to those who are still believing the devil's lies. God is still speaking today...even now to your heart!

God has His ways of speaking to His people:
  • He came to Adam with a question.
  • He came to Cain with a warning.
  • He came to Noah with instructions.
  • He came to Abraham with a promise.
  • He came to Moses in a burning bush to commission him.
  • He came to Joshua as a commander of the Lord’s army to inspire him.

How did God come to you and reveal Himself to you?

Do you remember when you didn't' know God and your thoughts were futile when you tried to figure out your identity and the true meaning of life? In His amazing grace, God chose a way to speak to you and to get your attention and now He wants to use you to help draw the lost and weary to Himself.

When Paul the Apostle showed up in Athens, he encountered all kinds of intellectual thinkers and sensual pleasure seekers. He saw the abundance of their idols and he was greatly invoked in his spirit by their false worship. He even noticed an altar that was made to an unknown god just in case they might offend a deity that they were not familiar with. He sized up their religious spirit and knew this was his open door to preach the gospel of the risen Christ to them. So he called their attention to the altar to an unknown god to reveal the true and living God that He knew could save their souls.

Paul adapted the gospel to these hearers and revealed how they needed to become aware of the risen Christ who was their Creator and was so very. near to them that they just needed to seek Him and grope for Him. He even used their poets to build a bridge with them and explained how God was calling them to repent and change their whole way of thinking and to consider the risen Christ to become His true offspring.

They looked down on Paul calling him a "babbler", someone who merely gathered up fragments of information in the way a bird gathers the scattered seed on the ground. But Paul was well studied in the Scriptures and even knew a thing or two about their Greek culture and yet he was still among the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.

Paul learned how to become all things to all people that he might by all means win them to Christ (1 Cor. 9:19). He explained how God could not be contained in any man-made temple and that didn't need anything since He is ultimately the very definition of existence, the only uncaused first cause, and He "gives to all life, breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25). He reasoned with them that God has determined the boundaries of our dwellings and made from ONE BLOOD all the nations of men. that we might recognize that all men are image bearers of God and in need of His salvation.

We see that he emphasized the following three things when preaching to them: He CENTRALIZED Christ, and CONTEXTUALIZED the message. and yet he refused to COMPROMISE the truth.

When all was said and done, it confirmed what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."

But now we know that Christ Jesus IS the Beginning and the End...and that NOW IS THE TIME TO REPENT (to change our way of thinking) and TO PUT OUR TRUST IN HIM, who changes our hearts!

  • Always look for opportunities to share.
  • Be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.
  • Contextualize the message without compromise.

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