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 17:23
I often write about how necessary it is to read and study our Bibles. There are two reasons. First, we need to be constantly reminded of God’s ways and will for us. Our sinful nature too often leads us astray despite our true desire to be obedient children of God. Without constant training and reminding of the lessons to be learned in Scripture, we will certainly forget what we should be doing and lose our way. The struggle between our desire to do good and our sinful nature is all too real. It’s something Paul struggled with too!
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Romans 7:21-23
Second, we need to know what we believe and why, if we are to effectively share the Gospel with others who do not yet know Christ. Peter tells us in his first letter…
…always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 1 Peter 3:15
But this second reason also involves being up on the world around us. We need to witness to people where they are!
Paul did this as told in Acts 17 above. He was in Athens where they loved a good debate and philosophical discussions. Paul went to the Areopagus where they held discussions, had their government council and courts. He was preaching the Gospel, but he hadn’t really started talking to them where they lived, where they were mentally.
They derided him, calling him a “babbler.” He regrouped, paid attention to his surroundings, and found his opportunity in the form of their altar to the Unknown God.
The Greeks had a lot of Gods, and they were very keen to not upset any of them. Just in case there was one they weren’t yet acquainted with, they put up an altar just to be on the safe side. Paul saw this, realized that Yahweh was unknown to them, and found his “hook.”
“I see that you have an altar to an unknown god there.”
“Yeah. Can’t afford to tick off an almighty being of any kind. You know how it goes.”
“Wellll…what if I could fill you in on who that unknown God is?”
And he was off to the races, as they say.
He transitioned from talking about God from his point of view to one they could identify with, one that resonated with them.
This is our challenge today. We need to be extremely well-read in our Bibles, but we also need to be very aware of our surroundings. We live in a post-Christian era when people have no familiarity with the Bible. All they know is the secular world. The age of Billy Graham going around the country preaching the Gospel to tens of thousands is past. He worked in a society where people were still more or less Biblically literate.
Today we need to find other starting places. We need to know how science supports the Bible, and that takes some digging. The Answers Book 1-4 by Ken Ham are a great start, for example.
Listen! What are people saying? What do they think? What is there that you can tag onto to talk about the Bible and God?
Those of us who have accepted Jesus as Savior are saved. But that is not to be the end of what following Jesus is about. Hell is a horrid place. We should shrink from that happening to anyone! Out of sheer pity if not love, we should want to point anyone we meet toward salvation in Christ. But first…
…we must be equipped to witness to them where they are!!