No Offense, but ... (part 2)
In the previous post, I asked (and began to answer):
Q: How do we maximize the opportunity and minimize the offense?
Answers in previous post:
A1: Know & Love those you’re called to reach
A2: Appeal to the Heart
Now, let’s continue …
A3: Appeal to the Head
He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods”... For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.‘ vv. 18, 28
Paul was well versed in the philosophy of the day. He had studied their beliefs, after all, Judaism was an ancient religion, and the educated Jews of his day had learned how to be apologists for their belief in one God.
Paul took this understanding and applied it to his gospel presentation. The scripture, in verse 18, says he was debating with them. The Greek word translated means “to consider carefully and carry on a discussion.”
Then, in verse 28 we find Paul actually quoting one of their poets. Paul was well versed, not only in their philosophy, but also in their traditions and their literature. Paul had become a student of his culture so he would better be able to convey the message of Christ.
Paul had become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22 ESV.
He was willing to invest his time, his mind and his life in doing whatever it took to reach others with the message of Christ.
So, by understanding his culture, knowing their literature, their religious thoughts, their philosophical foundations, Paul confronts them...
A4: Get to the Point
And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. v. 23b
There came a point when the preliminary groundwork had been laid and Paul cut to the chase. He confronted them about the differences between the falsehoods they believed and what He knew to be true. This is a difficult thing for many modern day Christians.
How many ‘unknown Gods’ is our culture worshipping. One of our most popular television shows for YEARS is called “American Idol” - we make it obvious and yet act naive.
We are welcome to share Christ with others, so long as we don't tell them that He said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but by me." It is the exclusivity of Christ, that causes many Christians problems.
Listen, Paul understood that he had to come to a point of confrontation, to a point where he showed them the difference between truth and error. And if we are going to faithfully present the gospel to our culture, we will have to come to that point of confrontation.
From there he simply presented the gospel.
A5: Be Confident and Courageous
“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us... 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. v. 24-27, 29
He starts in verse 24 with the One God as the Creator of all things, supreme above all of creation and sovereign in the universe. He tells them that everything that is comes from God, and that all of humanity has been created by Him, and that God is the God of time, of life and of death.
In verse 27 he says that man does not seek after God on his own because of his sinfulness, but that man is theistic (sense and/or believe in God) because we have been created in His image.
The difficulty of finding God lies not in His distance from us, but in our distance from Him through the blinding effect of sin.
Ok, one last answer:
A6: Make the Opportunity Clear (Jesus time)!
“God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. v. 30-34
Without any further explanation or argument, Paul declares to them that God has revealed Himself to humanity in the form of His only Son Jesus, who will come and judge the earth, and He preaches the resurrection to them and in verse 30 calls them to repent.
Friends, this is the gospel:
God created us,
Sin separates us from Him,
Only through the completed work of Jesus can we be in right relationship with God
Unless we come to know Him we will face an inevitable judgment.
Rather than worrying about offense, be honest (like a doctor):
"this may hurt a little but it's necessary"...
And, this call to repentance (in verse 30) culminates in verse 34 where the scripture says, "but some joined him and became believers."
God has not called us to be successful; He has called us to be faithful.
** Speaking the truth is in short supply because many of us are afraid of offending people. But, when we withhold the truth, we begin to live a lie.
Paul used his knowledge of the culture, his passion for the gospel, and the opportunity God gave him to preach the gospel. His faithfulness resulted in people being saved.
And, IF you’re still hung up on ‘offending’ -- consider how you might offend God!
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?”13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.” Matthew 15:12-14
Let’s love our world back to life. Start today.