Laymanointing

…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Cross culture keys, sharing gospel with people of other religions – Paul in Athens

While reading Acts 17, … of Paul sharing the gospel with the Greeks in Athens,
found some interesting points on how Paul shared the light of the gospel to other cultures
— who believe in many gods & godesses (polytheistic), have other religions,
and who have little or no Judeo-Christian background.

Today, in cities, workplaces and education institutes we are increasingly immersed in multicultural environments of diverse people from various parts of the world.  (Just taste and smell the aroma of mouth-watering pots of exotic and fusion food that’s being served near our doorsteps.🙂)
These are open opportunities, … for us to befriend and reach out to others of another culture, … who, for some may have other faiths/gods, … or have little or no Judeo-Christian background.

In this post we’ll look at how Paul reasoned with the Gentile Greeks in Athens, at the Areopagus on Mars Hill.

… What therefore you worship as unknown,
this I proclaim to you.

Acts 17:23 (ESV)


To help bring things in perspective,
… once a friend of mine met someone overseas from a land-locked country
who saw a coconut in the market.  He enquired my friend (who happened to be nearby) about this strange looking, exotic food.
After my friend explained that it was a coconut, … he  asked my friend how does one eat and enjoy this fruit, … (is it like eating other fruits he has eaten before).

In a way, introducing Jesus to others of another faith,
is like sharing the joy of eating and drinking a refreshingly fresh coconut,
to someone who has never seen a coconut before in their life.

And, … with the right tools and technique, … the coconut’s hard shell is easily opened, … and one enjoys its refreshing richness, … quenching one’s thirst.


In this post we’ll introduce
** Culture Keys, Compass

Explore Paul’s sharing at Athens
** Attitude
** Compliment
** Addressing the mind
** Engaging the heart – Culture key
** Response

Highlight
** Culture key/compass Examples
** Healings & Miracles, Personal Testimony, Deeds

** Conclusion

Paul wrote:  Follow my example, just as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)


nations

Culture Keys, Compass

yet He did not leave Himself without some witness [as evidence of Himself] …
Acts 14:17 (AMP)

“God has prepared the message of redemption
for all peoples on earth,  baring none.  

He has also been working to prepare
all peoples on earth for the message
that’s prepared for them …
seeding the cultures of mankind in advance with
Christ foreshadowing things.

… and messengers who are willing that God prepares them
to bring the God prepared message
to God amazingly prepared people

… a do-able mission, a worthy one” 
— Don Richardson, veteran missionary

26 … God decided beforehand when nations should rise and fall,
and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God
and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him
—though he is not far from any one of us.
Acts 17:26,27 (NLT)

In this post we’ll also be exploring the Christ foreshadowing things in other cultures
— culture keys, compasses within each culture pointing the people to Jesus,
thus helping the people to seek, feel their way toward God and find God,
though, God is not far from any one of us.

Our God has revealed himself in a simple manner,
… even a child can know Him personally;
God is not too complex or difficult to be known personally.


(On a side note, as the record of Paul’s message at the Areopagus is rather brief, and without a mention of Jesus by name, … it seems, its not so clear, … whether Luke recorded Paul’s whole message or just the main points in the account in Acts.  For example, in Luke’s record of Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost, Luke added, ‘And with many other words’ Peter testified and exhorted the people (Acts 2:40 (NASB))
However, before Paul’s meeting at Mars Hill,  Luke does mention that Paul shared about Jesus and His resurrection to the people he met.)

Attitude

Acts 17:19-22 (NLT)
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.

18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”

19 Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20 “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21 (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)

22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows:
“Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way,
23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines.

And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

Before his sharing at the Areopagus on Mars Hill
the reactions to his earlier sharing was … “a babbler … strange ideas“,  …
“He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
nevertheless, they were open to hear more from Paul,
their curiosity was aroused, and they invited him,
“Come and tell us about this new teaching,”

Let’s see how Paul overcame the thoughts of strange ideas and foreign.

23 “I’m telling you about this God, …”
Paul begins his sharing by introducing the God he believes in.

Although Paul was  deeply troubled by all the idols he saw,
he was culturally sensitive, respectful and compassionate in his sharing to the people.
After all, … they were worshiping gods without knowledge of who God  really is, out of ignorance.
So too were we, before coming to know Jesus personally.

Interestingly, the Greek word for deeply troubled [παροξύνω paroxynō], only appears in two New Testament verses, the other occasion is in 1 Corinthians 13:5

[Love] it is not easily angered [παροξύνω] … 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)

Hence, Paul chose to love the people he was reaching out to, in compassion.

Paul noted:
13 
even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ.
In my insolence, I persecuted his people.
But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.

14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was!

He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:13, 14 (NLT)

Like Paul, let’s continue to be mindful and thankful of his mercy, and generous, magnanimous  grace poured upon us;     helps keeps us humble, gracious & merciful to others.

22″I notice  … as I was walking along I saw  …” 
Paul became acquainted with the people of the city, by walking around, chatting, and researching on their culture and religion, … at the synagogue, and public square, marketplace with Gentiles & Jews, and diverse Greek philosophers.
He came to the meeting with an understanding of the people.   Well prepared,  not parachute in cold;    not a ‘bull in a china shop‘.

We earn our right to be heard, by respecting and honoring others,
and patiently reasoning with them & listening to  them.
We see this being consistently applied by Paul throughout his message in Athens.
In so doing, Paul expressed his love for the people he was reaching out to.

On a side note, Paul applied the art of Greek persuasion style
logos, pathos, ethos,
in the delivery of his message to his Greek audience.
A form that’s meaningful to his audience.

(more information on logos, pathos, ethosclick here)


Compliment

Paul began his sharing:
22I notice that you are very religious in every way …  I saw your many shrines
He opened his sharing by commending his hosts of their interest in pleasing and honoring the gods they believe in.

He did not make any moral or judgmental statement about their religious beliefs or practices.

When listeners feel offended, they become defensive, … much less open-minded.

He highlighted something positive about them and their way of life, … even though it was different from his.

In so doing, the listeners felt respected by his kind opening remarks.

23“And one of your altars had this inscription on it:
‘To an Unknown God.’

This God, whom you worship without knowing,
is the one I’m telling you about.”

Paul’s walkabout around the city must have been quite extensive in this large city of numerous impressive temples and altars,
to notice this altar “To an Unknown God“.

The Greeks believe in many gods & goddesses. (More details — Wikipedia)

‘To an Unknown God.’
This God, whom you worship without knowing,
is the one I’m telling you about.

Unknown God, … could possibly, refer to whatever other god or gods that exist,
but whose name and nature, … has yet to be revealed to the Athenian Greeks
(a catch-all god)

Paul skillfully used this concept of  the “Unknown God
to unveil the sovereign Almighty God he knows personally,
that his audience can also personally know :-),
who has revealed Himself to peoples.
From ‘unknown‘ … to known.

Paul wisely bridged their worshipful attitude
to point to the God he worships;
the God they can personally know and worship.

Paul’s starting point was their worldview,
not his.

And with an understanding of their worldview,
he builts on their understanding,
to lead them to his.

i.e., Paul guided his audience by illuminating the true light upon
what they already know.
Thus, Paul’s faith and worldview becomes not so foreign or strange, or external to them.

Paul also began with reference to their city, Athens.

Paul began from a position of agreement with his audience.
His introduction was built upon common ground, common assumptions, i.e. both he and his audience were interested in knowing and worshiping God.
(Disagreements arise when people do not share similar assumptions.)

Hence, Paul initiated … by crossing over … to the culture of his audience,
by building bridges of understanding with them.

(rather than just ‘throw the book‘ at them)

Thus, Paul engaged his audience’s attention,
with meaningful content that interests them.
Paul cared.


Addressing the mind

Acts 17:22-27 (NLT)
22 
So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way,
23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.

Paul begins by explaining the God he believes, … in a logical manner (his audience included well-read philosophers)

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it.
Since he is Lord of heaven and earth,

he doesn’t live in man-made temples,
25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs.

He (God) himself gives life and breath to everything,
and he satisfies every need.

Who God is.

As the Greeks have many gods,
Paul needs to explicitly explain the one true God he is referring to (i.e., monotheistic)
— made the world and everything in it, … Lord of heaven and earth
Creator, sustainer, provider, Lord of everything.  Infinite.  Unlimited powers.

Acknowledge and take to heart this day that
the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below.

There is no other.
Deuteronomy 4:39 (NIV)

“he doesn’t live in man-made temples,
25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs.”
(At this point of his sharing, its quite possible Paul gestured at the temples around them.)

Therefore, our God cannot be housed in the limited confines of temples,
and does not need to be physically served like a gods with limited abilities.

Jesus said,  “For even the Son of Man came not to be served
but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:28 (NLT)

24 Since he is Lord of heaven and earth,
Our God is not a creation of man’s imagination.  (Or in Greek religion, an offspring of other gods & goddesses.)
Our God and His character is revealed by what He has made (made the heaven above and earth below)

But God has given proof of what he is like.
He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven.
He gives you crops in their seasons. He provides you with plenty of food.
He fills your hearts with joy.”
Acts 14:17 (NIRV)

20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.
Through everything God made,
they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. …

Romans 1:20 (NLT) 

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.
Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)

Its important to state clearly who this God that we believe in,
especially to others who are of another faith/religion ,
who may believe in many gods, or have little Judeo-Christian exposure.
(i.e. we are not adding one more new god to their collection )

Similarly, when Jonah was in the storm at sea, he introduced his God to the non-Jewish sailors on the boat,

Jonah 1:7-9, 16 (NLT)
Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?”
Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and
I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.

16 The sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power,
and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.

26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth.

The origin of man.  God’s creation.
Man’s identity.
Our one common shared origin/genesis,
Our one common God, creator.

In this new life,

it doesn’t matter
if you are a Jew or a Gentile,
circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free.

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
Colossians 3:11 (NLT)

26 He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

God is sovereign.

The Lord sovereignly works through human history.
God is intimately concerned about the affairs of the world and nations.  He is not detached from the affairs on earth, peoples and nations.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God
and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him
—though he is not far from any one of us.

God desires  people to know Him personally.
God actively reaches out to humankind to know Him personally.

God is intimately concerned about the affairs of each individual. He is not detached from the concerns of each individual.

God desires for each person to seek Him and know Him personally.
This verse links Paul’s earlier observation of the people’s worshipful attitude
to the ‘unknown‘ God
that they can know personally,
who is intimately concerned about their well-being.

…”What is man, that You remember him?
Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him?”
Hebrews 2:5 (NASB)

Note:

** Paul begins his sharing firstly by pointing to the greatness of God, the sovereign Almighty God he believes in
** So far in his sharing, Paul has not quoted anything about Old Testament history or prophecy as he did with Jewish audiences (eg. Acts 13:13-43, 28:23-29) .  This is understandable as the Greek audience has no background in the Bible; and would have sounded foreign & strange to them.
** Paul also made no reference to the gods of his audience except the unknown god.  Even for the unknown god, his remarks were not controversial or divisive or condemning.
** Also, thus far in his sharing, Paul hasn’t raised the sin issue, or the problem with man, or some step methodology.
** Paul used simple language, without jargon.

Thus, Paul did not use a one-size-fits-all message for everyone.
He contextualized his message, by understanding and highlighting the background and culture of his audience.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NLT)
22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness,
for I want to bring the weak to Christ.
Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone,
doing everything I can to save some.

23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

Paul began his sharing with who God is,
and God’s love for the people He created.
God is actively reaching out to His people to personally know Him.


Engaging the heart – Culture key

Acts 17:28-31 (NLT)
28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

In the next part of Paul’s sharing, Paul bridges something in Greek culture to link to God’s revelation of Himself and Jesus.
Such culture keys or compasses touch the hearts of the people of another culture
— Christ foreshadowing things.

28 For in him we live and move and exist.
As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Here Paul quotes from 2 well-known pieces of Greek philosophy which his listeners at the high council of the city would be thoroughly well-versed with.

On hearing these quotes, his audience would have been impressed that Paul, a foreigner,
was well-read, and able to highlight the wisdom of their culture.
(certainly, not just another babbler)

Worldview, background and culture are some of the challenges of effective communications.
Paul’s use of meaningful examples from his listener’s worldview & culture helped support his sharing.
Thus, Paul skillfully & wisely guided them to an understanding of God.

By highlighting and bridging culture and beliefs of the Athenians
to what Paul believed,
… his audience would probably have felt at ease that Paul understood and respected them and their world view.
They would probably also felt esteemed by Paul.

Thus, his sharing did not come across as foreign or strange,
condescending or preachy,
or self-righteous.

By respecting and honoring his listeners, Paul earned the right to be heard, and taken seriously.

‘We are his offspring’
is a quote from Phaenomena, written by Aratus,  a Stoic philosopher from Cilicia, who lived about 315–240 BC. (Expanded Bible)
(A portion of the full context of this quote from Phanomena (English translation) is included at the end of this post.)  An excerpt:

‘From Zeus let us begin …
full of Zeus … full is the sea and the havens thereof;
always we all have need of Zeus.

For we are also his offspring;
and he in his kindness unto men giveth favourable signs and wakeneth the people to work

… For himself it was who set the signs in heaven, and marked out the constellations,
and for the year devised what stars chiefly should give to men right signs of the seasons, to the end that all things might grow unfailingly.

Wherefore him do men ever worship first and last.’

The context from Phaenomena, seems to echo Paul’s earlier statements as he introduced his God
(although the text in Phaenomena, is referring to the Greek god, Zeus)

From Paul’s sharing prior to this, … compared to the Lord God,
Zeus is not sovereign, does not have all power, is not known in a personal way,
and is one of the many gods and goddesses for the Greeks.

In a way, Paul builds upon, and extends beyond what the Greeks have known,
leading them, … from what they know
to what Paul desires to show them.

Let’s look at the second Greek reference:
‘For in him we live and move and exist.’

is a quote from Cretica, written by Cretan philosopher Epimenides, from about 600 BC (Expanded Bible).

Here’s the context where Paul quoted from (English translation),

‘They fashioned a tomb for you, holy and high one,

Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies.

But you are not dead:
you live and abide forever,


For in you we live and move and have our being

Notice that in Cretica, it talks about a death, burial and a resurrection
of the holy and high one, who abide forever,
in him we live and move and have our being

Paul wisely used this truth in Greek culture, to bridge onto the next part of his sharing — Jesus, our redeemer, resurrected Savior.

As can be seen, Paul took time to be acquainted with the culture and background of his listeners.  He did not parachute in cold.
Throughout his sharing, Paul spoke positively and highlighted the culture and background of his listeners,
wisely weaving in the Bible narrative revelation of God and our savior, Jesus.
He built bridges, and connected with the hearts of his audience.

29 And since this is true,
we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

since this is true

What is true?
‘We are his offspring’ —
we are created in God’s image, living beings.  We are not cast in lifeless stones, neither is God.
Defintely not designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

‘For in you we live and move and have our being’ — God gives life to all, holds the power of life.

Thus, the 2 quotes from Greek culture, also reinforced & confirmed the Greek listeners’ understanding of what Paul had said earlier in his message, i.e.

17:25 … He (God) himself gives life and breath to everything,
and he satisfies every need.

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times,
but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.

30 ·In the past, people did not understand God,
and he ignored this [or God overlooked such times of ignorance].
But now, God ·tells [commands] all people in the world
to ·change their hearts and lives [repent]. (EXB)

God’s mercy & grace to everyone.

Paul reiterates God’s desire for all people,
to ·change their hearts and lives [repent] and turn to him

On a side note, for people without a Judeo-Christian background, the word ‘repent‘ is rarely used in everyday conversation or in the media, and may not mean much to them.  Perhaps, its clearer to simply say — change their hearts and lives and turn to God.

31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice

God is also the Judge who judges justly for all people;
i.e. the reason why we need to change our hearts and lives and turn to God.

Greek worldview —  ‘Ancient Greeks believed that upon death, an individual would enter the realm of Hades, the Greek underworld, and be judged … ‘ (Wikipedia)

by the man he has appointed,
and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

The just God who sent His Son in human likeness
to atone for the sins of humankind,
thereby completely satisfying the just punishment due to humankind;
thus fulfilling God’s justice on our behalf.

he proved to everyone who this is
by raising him from the dead
the tangible proof that this is true & accomplished by Jesus.

Jesus overcame death through His resurrection,
and this hope is available to everyone who puts their faith in Him, and follow Him.

In this last section, … Paul appears to paraphrase and echo the text in Cretica,
to link it to refer to Jesus.
Thereby striking a resonant cultural chord in his audience hearts.


Response

32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Like the parable of sower and the seed,
the results of Paul’s was mixed,
… some laughed in contempt, … some enquired for more information, … some joined him and became believers,
after all,
for Paul’s audience, … this is the first time they heard of a revelation of God and Jesus by God’s messenger.

Like Paul, our role is to share, to persuade
only the Holy Spirit can convict people to turn to God
((2 Corinthians 5:11, John 16:8-11).


Culture key/compass examples 

26 … God decided beforehand when nations should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.
Acts 17:26,27 (NLT)

In this uplifting video, veteran missionary Don Richardson shares amazing examples of culture keys/compasses, that God had embedded in cultures long, long time ago,  … all to point peoples, tribes & nations to Jesus   — headhunting tribes in Papua New Guinea, Dayaks in Borneo and in India.
(fyi, the full video is in 7 short parts)

.. God has made everything beautiful for its own time.
He has planted eternity in the human heart ..
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

14 Those who are not Jews
do not have the law,

but
when they freely do what the law commands,
they are the law for themselves.
This is true even though they do not have the law.

15 They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong,
just as the law commands.
And they show this by their consciences.
Sometimes their thoughts tell them they did wrong,
and sometimes their thoughts tell them they did right.

Romans 2:14,15 (NCV)


The first missionary to Burma (Myanmar) was Adoniram Judson.  He translated the Bible into Burmese.  He  toiled tirelessly for 6 years before a Burmese person came to the Lord.  It was through the Karen tribe, that he received a great harvest.  The Karens were touched by the gospel through a cultural key in their oral tradition

“Long, long ago the Karen elder brother and his young white brother lived close together. God gave each of them a Book of Gold containing all they needed for their salvation, success and happiness. The Karen brother neglected and lost his Book of Gold and so he fell into a wretched type of existence, ignorant and cruelly oppressed by the Burmese. The white brother, however, prized his Golden Book, or Book of God, and so, when he sailed away across the oceans, God greatly blessed him. Some day the white brother will return, bringing with him God’s Book, which, if the Karen people will receive and obey, will bring to them salvation and untold blessings. ”  (Source: The Reformed Reader)

A Karen, Ko Tha Byu met Adorinam and heard God’s word.  Adorinam Judson was the ‘white brother’ who came back bringing God’s Book.


Middle East:


Chinese characters and the book of Genesis


The Tai Dam in Vietnam believe in the King of Heaven who founded the city of Dien Bien Phu, formerly called “Heavenly City” by the Tai Dam. They believe there used to be a vine which reached from the earth to heaven. One mother was upset because her son kept climbing the vine to fellowship with God. She cut the vine and ever since then the Tai Dam have been unable to communicate with God.
— Source:  Joshua Project


Healings & Miracles, Personal Testmony, Deeds

Besides communicating effectively across cultures,
in the various accounts in Acts,
… in the places that Paul and his companions went on their missionary journeys,
they met people who believe in gods that had power.
They also encountered people who operated in the spiritual realm with power as well (eg in Paphos and Philippi).

In addition to sharing the good news, Paul and his companions tangibly demonstrated the power of God in Jesus name, through the Holy Spirit, and through their lives,
meeting the needs of the people.

After all, … when Paul first met Jesus. he also tangibly experienced the power of God,
while on his way to Damascus.

Though not included in Paul’s sharing of the gospel in Athens, … on other ocassions, Paul also shared his personal testimony (eg.  Acts 22).

Paul wrote:
18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me,
in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient
19 in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18,19 (NKJV)

Paul shared the gospel of Christ in word and deed,
in mighty signs and wonders

by the power of the Spirit of God.

Some examples:

Paphos:
Afterward they traveled from town to town across the entire island until finally they reached Paphos, where they met a Jewish sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He had attached himself to the governor, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man. The governor invited Barnabas and Saul to visit him, for he wanted to hear the word of God.But Elymas, the sorcerer (as his name means in Greek), interfered and urged the governor to pay no attention to what Barnabas and Saul said. He was trying to keep the governor from believing.
Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he looked the sorcerer in the eye. 10 Then he said, “You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? 11 Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” Instantly mist and darkness came over the man’s eyes, and he began groping around begging for someone to take his hand and lead him.
12 When the governor saw what had happened, he became a believer, for he was astonished at the teaching about the Lord.
Acts 13:6-12 (NLT)

Iconium:
But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord.
And the Lord proved their message was true
by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders.

Acts 14:3 (NLT)

Lystra:
While they were at Lystra, Paul and Barnabas came upon a man with crippled feet. He had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was sitting and listening as Paul preached. Looking straight at him, Paul realized he had faith to be healed. 10 So Paul called to him in a loud voice, “Stand up!” And the man jumped to his feet and started walking.
Acts 14:8-10 (NLT)

Philippi:
16 One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! 27 The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
30 Then he brought them out and asked,
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Acts 16:16-18, 25-28 (NLT)

Shipwrecked in Malta:
As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.

Near the shore where we landed was an estate belonging to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us and treated us kindly for three days. As it happened, Publius’s father was ill with fever and dysentery. Paul went in and prayed for him, and laying his hands on him, he healed him. 9 Then all the other sick people on the island came and were healed.
Acts 28:3-9 (NLT)


Conclusion

yet He did not leave Himself without some witness [as evidence of Himself] …
Acts 14:17 (AMP)

Culture keys or compasses touch the hearts of the people of another culture
— Christ foreshadowing things
embedded in each culture long, long time ago.
Because, we all share a common origin/genesis,
a common God, creator, … there are remnants of His-story in various cultures,
From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth

Paul wasn’t interested in winning an argument/debate,
rather he wisely applied the art of Greek persuasion – logos, pathos, ethos,
to his Greek audience
of his good news message.

Its best to close with the words of Jesus, Peter and Paul
about lovingly & graciously sharing the good news of Jesus with others.

Luke 6:31 (MSG)
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior:
Ask yourself what you want people to do for you;
then grab the initiative and
do it for them!

1 Peter 3:15,16 (NLT)
15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NLT)
19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.

21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law,
I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ.
But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness,
for I want to bring the weak to Christ.
Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone,
doing everything I can to save some.

23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

Romans 13:10 (NLT)
Love does no wrong to others,
so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.


Further reading:

Don Richardson, Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World, Regal, 2006.

Janet Benge, Geoff Benge, Adoniram Judson: Bound for Burma, YWAM Publishing, 2000.

C. H. Kang, Ethel R. Nelson, The Discovery of Genesis: How the Truths of Genesis Were Found Hidden in the Chinese Language, Concordia Publishing House, 1979

Chan Kei Thong, Charlene L. Fu , Finding God in Ancient China: How the Ancient Chinese Worshiped the God of the Bible, Zondervan, 2009

Arthur Rouzer, Sharing the Good News with the Japanese, A Cross-cultural Consideration, 2012

Related posts:

A simple, easy way to share the gospel of Jesus with family & friends

Cross culture, sharing gospel: Jesus & the Samaritan woman at the well


Footnote:

Phaenomena, written by Aratus (English translation)

[1] From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed; full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men; full is the sea and the havens thereof; always we all have need of Zeus. For we are also his offspring; and he in his kindness unto men giveth favourable signs and wakeneth the people to work, reminding them of livelihood. He tells what time the soil is best for the labour of the ox and for the mattock, and what time the seasons are favourable both for the planting of trees and for casting all manner of seeds. For himself it was who set the signs in heaven, and marked out the constellations, and for the year devised what stars chiefly should give to men right signs of the seasons, to the end that all things might grow unfailingly. Wherefore him do men ever worship first and last. Hail, O Father, mighty marvel, mighty blessing unto men. Hail to thee and to the Elder Race! Hail, ye Muses, right kindly, every one! But for me, too, in answer to my prayer direct all my lay, even as is meet, to tell the stars.

http://www.theoi.com/Text/AratusPhaenomena.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epimenides, (source for Cretica text)

On a side note, amongst the stories of Greek gods, is an account of a very great flood
http://www.allabouthistory.org/greek-gods.htm

 


Cross-Culture | Sharing Jesus

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
November 15, 2016
laymanointing.wordpress.com

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License


 

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