Message of Evangelism
To share the message of the Gospel with non-Christians, we must begin on common ground and at their questions, then show them God’s supremacy and their own sin, and call them to repentance and faith in the risen Lord Jesus.
“22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.” – Acts 17:22-34
I. Paul’s Motivation (again)
II. Paul’s Message
Telling Your Fishing Story: Tip 1: Openings
Notice today how Paul opens his Gospel presentation in the Areopagus in response to his surroundings, specifically, the “unknown god” altar. We have much to learn from Paul in this regard.
It would help if you thought about several openings to your conversion story that will enable you to tell it in response to different cues. For example, if someone in a conversation talks about their bad experience of church, then you could start your story in response. “Yes, I know what you mean. When I was a teenager, I went along to church and I didn’t understand anything they were talking about. It seemed totally irrelevant so I gave up and rather stupidly thought that because the church was so hopeless that meant that God was hopeless too. Then I went to…”
Of course, if someone opens the door just a crack to a gospel conversation, many of us will feel the temptation to barge on through, saying everything all at once in a dull monologue. This will ensure that people do not foolishly open that door again in the future! Peter encourages us to tell stories “with gentleness and respect”, so we must be sensitive to our listeners. We will often be in a situation where we can start a story, but wait for an invitation to tell the remainder. In the example above, we might leave the story at: “…and rather stupidly thought that because the church was so hopeless that meant that God was hopeless too.” The use of the word ‘stupidly’ here suggests that our feelings about God and church have since changed, so if the listener wants to know more, they can ask.