Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 45 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Acts 17 today and our focus is on evangelism in the first century. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Harare, Zimbabwe, Telangana, India, New York, New York, Dallas, Texas and Orlando, Florida. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our new web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more – Click here for our reading plan!
Today our subject is very similar to yesterday’s focus, but, also quite different. The mission is still the same for Paul and Silas, but we will see today that the way the good news is spread is quite different from what we saw in Acts 16. Many people seek to understand and emulate the powerful method of evangelism found in the first century church, but when you actually look at what they did and how the good news spread, you’ll find there was no single method – the Word of God spread in so many different ways that there’s no way to copy exactly what the first century church did. I actually think that is by design – the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how to have a church service, or what steps to take to lead somebody to Jesus, but gives us a multitude of examples of gatherings of believers and shows us so many different ways that people come to faith in Jesus. Yesterday, we saw people get saved by sitting down and sharing the good news conversationally with people by the river and also by seeing a great example of character under persecution. Today, we see several different ways people come to faith. Let’s read about them!
Paul and Silas go Thessalonica, and proclaim Jesus as the resurrected messiah in the Jewish synagogue there – and several people believe, forming the basis for the church that will receive the first and second letters of the Thessalonians. Then, Paul and Silas move on to Berea, where the same thing happens, this time with better results, because the noble Bereans actually follow along with Paul in the Old Testament and see that he is proclaiming the truth about Jesus. Next stop, after a bit of riots and persecution, is Paul solo in Athens. This time Paul chooses a different tactic – while he continues to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, He is also now talking to people in the Greek marketplaces, which eventually gets him to address the many philosophers and movers and shakers in Athens, where Paul proclaims to them the good news of Jesus raised from the dead. Many – maybe most – scoff at him, and consider his message crazy, but others want to hear more about the resurrection from the dead, and some are even convinced by the Word and are saved, becoming believers.
What is the centerpiece of Paul’s message to these non-Jewish Greek people? Jesus, raised from the dead! The same MESSAGE for both people groups, but greatly different methods from town to town and people to people. The METHOD is not the important thing – the MESSAGE is the important thing, the powerful thing, and the supernatural thing. As Paul writes in Romans 1:16:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, (Romans 1:16)
It is not the method that has the power, but the message – and we would do well to remember that! Let’s close with some wisdom from Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
When the disciples were sent out, they all preached ‘Jesus and the resurrection’ (Acts 17:18), but they did not stop at that. Paul in his preaching says that he had ‘hope toward God, which they themselves [the Jews] also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust’ (Acts 24:15). That was the kind of thing that they all preached, not only the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but our resurrection also, as Paul put it in his famous sermon at Athens: God ‘hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead’ (Acts 17:31). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a proclamation and announcement to the effect that God will judge the whole world by this person, which simply means that in this life and in eternity our fate is decided by our attitude to Him. If you say that Jesus is only a man and, like the Jews, are a bit annoyed with Him and dismiss Him and kill Him and think you have got rid of Him, then you will receive judgment, and that judgment is eternal punishment. But if you believe that God has raised up this Jesus and made Him a Prince and a Savior, and that it is in Him alone that you can have forgiveness of sins and become a child of God, with the hope of glory, why, the verdict is that you will have all you have believed!
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “The Resurrection—God’s Declaration,” in Victorious Christianity, 1st U.S. ed., vol. 3, Studies in the Book of Acts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 139.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Church and the Last Things (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 230–231.
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for FEBRUARY: Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
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