magaretnahmias

Real Revelance

Many people have thrown out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to relevance with all excesses. I understand the concern of watering down the message and attracting people under false pretenses. But, unfortunately, Hillsong and others have grossly distorted this with worship services devoid of anything Christian. However, as the worldview gap widens, we need to communicate the gospel understandably without gimmicks. 

Paul gives an example in Acts 17:16-31.

16. While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way, you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25, And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man, he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’29 “Therefore, since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by his appointed man. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and many others. After preaching in the synagogues and on the street, Pau catches the attention of some stoic philosophers. So he goes to the Areopagus to explain this to them.  Paul uses the unknown God statue to talk about Yahweh. It is not clear what the unknown God refers to. Perhaps as Judaism and Hellenism came into contact, people heard bits and pieces about Yahweh. Since Yahweh was just referred to as God, the Greeks thought he was nameless.  Perhaps they thought another god out there in addition to the ones Greeks worshipped, but they didn't who it was.  The philosophers may have been influenced by  Aristoltians philosophy which has theistic elements. Hence they called it the unknown God. Paul makes this unknown god known. He succinctly explains God's character and dealings with man. He knows the whole gospel was foreign to them, so he focuses on the question of who God is first.  He even sprinkles in some quotes from another Stoic philosopher.  D    This probably paved the way for a more complete gospel presentation to those who were interested.   It overs the entire redemptive history and his character.

In few words, Paul mentions that Yahweh is living and not limited to a place or represented by an idol.   He is the self-sustaining sustainer of mankind.  He is also the creator of mankind.   The one-man reference probably refers to Adam. He also mentions God's sovereignty in setting ethnic and national boundaries to bring people to himself .mentions that God overlooked the ignorance of foreign idolatry for a time until he revealed himself to all nations and called them to repentance. Finally, he implicitly mentions Jesus as the appointed man who will judge mankind. Some might consider   Paul's failure to mention Jesus' divinity an oversight.  However, since talking to philosophers, it was probably easier to say Jesus implicitly as the Son of Man in Daniel 7. Judging by their reaction to the resurrection, a fully divine and human figure would have confused them. Although ironically, it seems similar to the Greek concept of a demigod, a half-god, and a man.        He does not use the word child when referring to the relationship between  God and those who believe in him. Instead, he uses the word offspring from the  Greek poet's quote.  Again here, Paul is using familiar terms. 

As you can see, Paul faithfully communicates  God's attributes while using more straightforward and familiar language.  As longs we don't compromise the message speaking understandably is an excellent way to connect with an audience when sharing.  

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