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Uncomfortable Surroundings

I will never forget the process to get into the doctoral program at Dallas Theological Seminary. In addition to all the academic requirements, each prospective student has to go through an interview in front of the faculty. Keep in mind these are world-class theological academics most of whom have an alphabet trailing their name, and I'm just a guy from Plover. I have never felt so out of place. This experience helps me in some small way to understand what it must have been like for Paul in Athens. The brilliant philosophers of Athens had taught the world to think as the intellectual capital of the world. Yet, today, when we hear the name, "Mars Hill," we immediately think of Saul of Tarsus. Paul's interaction with the men at the Areopagus in Athens was a master class in communication. We would be wise to study and duplicate his approach in our own gospel conversations (Acts 17:16-34).

  1. Paul approached his subject from the people's perspective. He noticed that they were very dedicated in their pursuit of spiritual knowledge. It's important to know where the people you share with are coming from.

  2. Paul used the familiar to introduce the unfamiliar. The people of Athens had erected an altar to the "unknown god." Paul used this to build a bridge about the one true God they had in fact overlooked. Look for common ground in your relationships with those to whom you are speaking.

  3. Paul proclaimed the greatness of God. The Greeks and Romans had gods that they could identify with and contain. Paul blew their worldview wide open by sharing that the one true God transcends creation so nothing material can represent Him.

  4. Paul drove the conversation to the resurrection. This is where Paul was always headed. The resurrection of Christ is where the greatness of God is most on display.

The gospel is fundamentally an announcement, not an explanation: Jesus Christ claimed to be God in the flesh, sent here to save us. The most important question He ever asked, or that you’ll ever consider, is His question, “Who do you say that I am?” Press On, Pastor Brian Richard


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