Acts 2:22-41; 17:16, 17, & 22-34
Continuing with Easter-related messages, Pastor Steve reviewed how the apostles reached their culture with a message it understood. Starting with Acts 2:22-36, he noted that Peter talked of being a witness to Christ’s resurrection and spoke so powerfully people asked him what they needed to do to be saved. No altar call or “mercy seat,” traditionally popular in evangelical circles.
“No turning the lights down low, bringing up the music, and playing on people’s emotions,” Steve said. “The Jewish culture was waiting on the Messiah and they’re told: ‘You missed Him, but God raised Him from the dead.’ This was the same guy who 43 days earlier around the campfire said, ‘I don’t know Him.’ But he was (now) filled with the Spirit and boldness.”
He then pointed to verse 37, where people asked Peter what they should do. Steve termed that an altar call in reverse, where someone is so convicted by the Spirit, they’re asking us what to do to be saved. That was the kind of miracle Peter saw that day, when 3,000 accepted Christ.
Likewise, we don’t have to give flowery sermons or quote scripture, just share the story of what God did in our lives. To illustrate, Steve read Acts 17:16 and 22-29, where Paul spoke in Athens, the center of the enlightenment, education, and great philosophers. Paul reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews first, using the Old Testament to construct his message. Thanks to Paul’s wisdom, the Jews were stuck in a room with him, rather than the apostle thinking he was surrounded by enemies.
“We need to change our thinking,” Steve said. “We’re not stuck with a bunch of (pagans). They’re stuck in a room with you. . . . God doesn’t need me, but He uses me. God doesn’t need you, but He uses you. Paul talks to them about the (inscription to) the unknown God because that was part of their culture. . . . Just talk plainly.”
One of the American church’s problems is we think because we’re a Christian nation and a good people that everyone should give us the benefit of the doubt, he added. When unbelievers mock us, we tend to dismiss them and consign them to hell instead of sharing the gospel. But to face ridicule for sharing your faith means you’re talking about Jesus.
“God isn’t intimidating by mocking,” Steve said. “He works through it to get to these lost people. We are close to the Jewish experience Peter had. Lots of people know lots of Bible stories, but they don’t really know the stories. . . . It just takes a willingness on our part to love people enough to risk getting made fun of.”