In Acts 17, we find a page out of the playbook of the greatest evangelist of all time, apart from our Lord himself. The apostle Paul was a master communicator of the gospel. Here we see him bringing the message of Jesus Christ to his culture in the first century.
But things really are not all that different from where Paul was and where we are today. Despite our dramatic advances in technology, the essential needs of humankind remain the same—as does the answer to those problems.
Paul was the right man in the right place at the right time. He was well-prepared and well-educated for the task at hand. And though he used his oratorical skills, at the same time, he always arrived at the same simple message. If he was speaking to a soldier or a Roman governor or possibly to Caesar himself, Paul never really changed his message.
For the gospel to be the gospel, it always will come down to the simple, though not simplistic, message of who Jesus is, why He came, how He died, and how He rose again.
Now Paul could have stood around all day and cursed the darkness. But instead, he decided to turn on the light.
Acts 17:16–17 tells us, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue . . . and in the marketplace daily . . .” (NKJV).
In the same way, we can wring our hands and talk about the state of affairs in our world all day long. Or we can do something about it.
We need to proclaim the gospel, because the root of the problem is that people are separated from God. Paul’s spirit was stirred, and he took action.
Not only did Paul take action, but he also took the time to learn about the people he was speaking to. He examined their idols. He read their poets. He understood their culture. He wanted to build a bridge to them.
That is because the way to change a culture is to invade it. It is to go out where people don’t typically hear the gospel, enter their world, and tell them about Jesus Christ. That is what Paul did.
Taken from “A Timeless Strategy” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).