A Clever Presentation Can Help

a little.

Acts 17:29-34 (NIV)

“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. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 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 everyone by raising him from the dead.”

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.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Remember, this all started when Paul’s spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. Having explained the basic concept of a monotheistic creator God, he now takes aim at those idols.

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.

God created man, not vice-versa – obviously. Paul now has his audience back on their heels, especially the “philosophers” who called him a seed-picker. This is a powerful apologetic. By showing that idols are nonsense, he has exposed a flaw in their thinking. This undermines their belief system. For a moment, they’ll be confused and vulnerable. Time to press the issue.

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 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 everyone by raising him from the dead.

The word “proof” closes the deal. Jesus’ resurrection is proof that He is the Christ.

But notice that Paul’s clever presentation convinces some but not all. Clever presentations aren’t the key to leading people to Christ.


It’s frustrating to care about people who don’t believe, but that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is our powerlessness. We can try our best to lead people to Christ, and that can help some, but only some. God is in charge, and His agenda includes things we can’t understand. We have some things we want Him to do, but we can’t insist that He do them. All we can do is ask nicely.

But think about what an amazing privilege it is that we can even ask nicely. We couldn’t possibly tell God something He doesn’t already know. Plus, we are rebellious, sinful creatures. Why would He listen to us?

Praise God that he commands us to pray. Otherwise, I wouldn’t dare.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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