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Monday, October 13, 2008

Paul in Athens : Church History

Question: The Mediterranean world was a religiously pluralistic environment. Both Greek and Roman cultures had pantheons of many gods to be worshipped. Scripture records instances in which the Apostle Paul came into contact with these other religions. In Ephesus, the result of this encounter was a riot (see Acts 6) but in Athens, there was a very different result. We also live in an environment of religious pluralism. What might the Church today learn from Paul’s encounters that would help us as we encounter multiple religions?

Bibletruthonline.com answer:

The result of Paul's preaching in Athens gives us two important insights for the Church today. The first insight as told in Acts 17:22-23, is that Paul preached to an audience that on the whole had not heard about Jesus Christ. He began at a "neutral" point for them to relate to without personally attacking or openly denouncing them. He looked at the culture, the people, and their idol worship and stated: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you." (Acts 17:22-23). This allowed the audience to open their ears just a little because the initial proclamation was not directed at them in an insulting way. Who enjoys dealing with an insulting person?
The second insight that must be highlighted is the role of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit protected Paul. The Holy Spirit, in my opinion, was the source that gave Paul the insight on how to approach the people of Athens. Paul as like any man or woman, was probably fearful speaking to a people who worshiped so many idols, especially after the experience in Ephesus. Scripture tells us that "Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols" (Acts 17:16a). Isn't this true for us today? As Christ's sheep, are we not also "provoked" by the Spirit when we embrace an opportunity to share the Gospel message? What would be the purpose of the Spirit placing us in a situation of testifying to the Truth of Jesus Christ that we then use self-will and possibly skewed "logic" to figure out? I know that if the people of Athens gave Paul an ultimatum between renouncing Jesus Christ and living or refusing to deny Christ and dying...Paul would have died that day in Athens. This protection comes from our Shepherd through the means of the Holy Spirit and this is a crucial reflection to make on a daily basis.


Statement of Faith by my seminary

My Seminary: Statement of Faith

Under God, and subject to biblical authority, the faculty, managers/administrators, and trustees of (name purposefully hidden from those who do not have decent intentions) Theological Seminary bear concerted witness to the following articles, to which they subscribe, which they hold to be essential to their ministry, and which are the foundation upon which the seminary is based.

I. God has revealed himself to be the living and true God, perfect in love and righteous in all his ways, one in essence, existing eternally in the three persons of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

II. God, who discloses himself to mankind through his creation, has savingly spoken in the words and events of redemptive history. This history is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, who is made known to us by the Holy Spirit in sacred Scripture.

III. Scripture is an essential part and trustworthy record of this divine self-disclosure. All the books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, are the written word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. They are to be interpreted according to their context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through them in living power.

IV. God, by his word and for his glory, freely created the world of nothing. He made man and woman in his own image, as the crown of creation, that they might have fellowship with him. Tempted by Satan, they rebelled against God. Being estranged from their Maker, yet responsible to him, they became subject to divine wrath, inwardly depraved and, apart from grace, incapable of returning to God.

V. The only mediator between God and humankind is Christ Jesus our Lord, God's eternal son, who, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, fully shared and fulfilled our humanity in a life of perfect obedience. By his death in our stead, he revealed the divine love and upheld divine justice, removing our guilt and reconciling us to God. Having redeemed us from sin, the third day he rose bodily from the grave, victorious over death and the powers of darkness. He ascended into heaven where, at God's right hand, he intercedes for his people and rules as Lord over all.

VI. The Holy Spirit, through the proclamation of the gospel, renews our hearts, persuading us to repent of our sins and confess Jesus as Lord. By the same Spirit we are led to trust in divine mercy, whereby we are forgiven all our sins, justified by faith alone through the merit of Christ our Savior, and granted the free gift of eternal life.

VII. God graciously adopts us into his family and enables us to call him Father. As we are led by the Spirit, we grow in the knowledge of the Lord, freely keeping his commandments and endeavoring so to live in the world that all may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.

VIII. God, by his Word and Spirit creates the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, calling sinners out of the whole human race into the fellowship of Christ's Body. By the same Word and Spirit, he guides and preserves for eternity that new, redeemed humanity, which, being formed in every culture, is spiritually one with the people of God in all ages.

IX. The Church is summoned by Christ to offer acceptable worship to God and to serve him by preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations, by tending the flock through the ministry of the word and sacraments and through daily pastoral care, by striving for social justice, and by relieving human distress and need.

X. God's redemptive purpose will be consummated by the return of Christ to raise the dead, to judge all people according to the deeds done in the Body, and to establish his glorious kingdom. The wicked shall be separated from God's presence, but the righteous, in glorious bodies, shall live and reign with him forever. Then shall the eager expectation of the creation be fulfilled and the whole earth shall proclaim the glory of God who makes all things new.