Acts Devotionals

Launching Pads

Should you be charged with some sort of crime and need to appear in court, you will more than likely employ a Defense Attorney to defend you. In court, the Prosecuting Attorney will present his case against you and once he has completed his argument, your Defense Attorney will have the right of response by arguing for you. His task is to “out argue” the Prosecution’s case against you.

The Greek word “apologia” translated into English is “defense”. Christianity takes this word further. When arguing the Gospel’s Truth, it is known as Christian Apologetics. Although there are people called Christian Apologists, every believer needs to be an apologist in his or her own way when interacting with people of a different faith. This is how it ought to work … a person shall …

(1) Think and study through what is believed to understand their own faith to be able to communicate with others.

(2) They need to personally believe what they say about their faith.

(3) Arrange one’s argument in an orderly manner for presentation.

(4) Defend what you believe. Please read:

Ac 17:22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men 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. Now what you worship as something unknown 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 hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each 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 man’s 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 the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Although this passage is lengthy and we shall take time to work through it, it is important to read through how Paul’s Defense of the Faith is mapped out.

1) He politely commended their religiousness. We saw this yesterday. His method in verse 22 was the ice-breaker.

2) The careful investigation.

Ac 17:23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship.

This obviously took Paul time … he walked around and at each idol he would stop and observe it, gathering whatever insight he could about each “object or worship”. He wanted his hearers … those wanting to known what he was teaching, that he did not come amongst them without knowledge of their “religious” artifacts (objects of worship).

Often, we burst into an argument about the rightness of Christianity (it is the only true religion) against another religion without knowing anything about that religion. To engage anyone about our faith, we need to know something of their faith.

Let me give you an example. In Hinduism that have many, many gods. To ask a Hindu to accept Jesus as God will be easy. All the person will do is add Jesus to their long list of gods. There are sufficient good books about “world religions” or “cults and sects” to understand something about those you work with, live next door to or within your family who follow a different faith.

Let me ask … should a Jehovah’s Witness knock on your door wanting to ask questions or get you to buy their Watchtower Magazine, how would you respond? As a young Christian, alone at home one Saturday morning, a young lady knocked on the front door. She was trying to sell me something. I listened to her and declined. Then I asked her about Jesus and whether she had a relationship with Him. She answered like this … “I am a witness”. She was honest but shy … she could not say Jehovah’s Witness, most likely because of the connotation. So we agreed that I was a Christian and she a Witness … and she left. I lost a golden opportunity of defending the Christian faith (apologetics) because at that stage I knew absolutely nothing about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Once aware of my inadequacies I bought material and learnt about their beliefs.

We all live in different environments … so be like Paul and investigate what “objects of worship” surround your suburb. It might be a Masonic Lodge, a Kingdom Hall, a Muslim Mosque, A Christian Science Church, Philosophy Hall, etc. Buy material about who they are and what they believe … but make sure the material is written by Christians because then you will be helped to understand the difference between Christianity and the other religion.

3) The extraordinary finding. Get this … I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. This is almost unbelievable, unless you believe the Sovereignty of God! In the distant past (timelines are unknown to us) God permitted this “altar” (shrine, idol, statue) to be placed right there, not having a god’s name on it, so that Paul, at that particular time in history might see it and use it as a trigger to explain who the UNKNOWN GOD is!

Beloved, never forget that absolutely nothing happens by chance or coincidence. Everything … absolutely everything is by the permissive will of God so that in some way and at some time, He shall receive glory. Far too often we Christians forget who and what our God is. He is the one, true, living God. He is Creator and Sustainer. He is omnipotent (all powerful). He is omniscient (knows all things). He is omnipresent (present all the time everywhere by God the Holy Spirit). He is one God, Triune in His being, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. What He permitted Paul to find, in principle He allows His people to find in our day to.

We ought to be observant, not dispelling history, geography or archaeology. We ought to obtain material from places like “Answers in Genesis” or “Creation Ministries” to understand more and better the history of Creation and specifically our planet. In many ways this will not only help us defend our faith against the evolutionist, it will help us defend our faith before many religions as well.

4) The God provided launching pad. The UNKNOWN GOD was a God provided launching pad for Paul to defend what he was teaching … the Christian Faith.

Our Sovereign God and Father, You are so glorious. In Your foreknowledge You permitted pagans to place idols, one representing an unknown god that Paul could use as a platform from which to present the Gospel. Help us to be observant and use things around us as launching pads from which we may defend the Christian Faith. Amen.

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