In the second half of Acts 17 we find ourselves in the secular city of Athens. Paul left Berea due to some Jewish followers who were persecuting him (v.13-15). Once again Jews enraged over his message of salvation through Jesus Christ followed him from city to city stirring up trouble. Tightening up his sandals, Paul is sent by the wise Bereans to the city of Athens to wait for Silas and Timothy.
In Athens, Paul encounters a city chalked full of idols. They were everywhere! The Athenians even went so far as to erect an altar to and UNKNOWN GOD (v.23) just to be sure they had all their bases covered. These people were serious about idol worship. He also runs into strong intellectuals who do nothing but talk about and listen to new ideas (v.21). Did these people have jobs? Imagine the intimidation factor here in trying to tell these people about Jesus the Christ? Paul doesn’t seem too nervy by this (obviously this is the power of the Holy Spirit working in his life). He squares off with them and tells them the Good News. The results? A few became followers (v.34).
One treasure I came across here was Paul’s investigation of Athens. Check out verses 16 and 23:
16 "While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols."
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."
He talks about “looking carefully” at their objects of worship. Basically, he did some investigation work prior to speaking and preaching to them. I find this so interesting because in our day and age it seems we (the Church) seldom know what others are really worshipping (by worship I mean – what they spend their time thinking about, the thing that raises their heartbeat and blood pressure, the thing that tries to fill their heart, and the thing they really love and admire). We tend to shy away and dismiss it as garbage that we should have nothing to do with. But the problem is some people are perishing because they embrace this “garbage” as truth. Then they come to us with questions about it and we are completely ignorant and unable to connect what they see as truth to God’s Truth. It’s essential that we connect God’s Truth to them. This is what Paul did in Athens. Their UNKNOWN GOD was about to be explained to them (v.23).
Imagine the scene if Paul didn’t investigate Athens? How well would he have been able to relate God’s Word to them? Do we take time (like Paul) to investigate what those around us are worshipping? Do we spend time researching their religious beliefs? This couldn’t be more relevant with the upcoming release of the DaVinci Code movie. Are we ready to answer the world’s questions after they see the DaVinci Code? Some will and have embraced this as truth. Have we researched it? Have we read the book?
I thought I would list some practical “investigation” steps to help us out. If you can think of any more I haven’t listed let me know. I’ll list them on here for you.
1. Get into the Word. Some good books dealing with false teachings are: Galatians, 1 Timothy, 2 Peter, and 1 John. Also, I encourage you to dig into the Gospels to check out our Savior’s own words over such matters.
2. Pray. God’s Spirit guides us into all Truth the Scriptures say (John 16:13). Ask Him to do that with your research. Ask Him to filter what you see and read to ensure you don’t get suckered into it.
3. Do some research on the internet. This is free! Some good sites to use that offer information and have links to other sites with information over false teachings are: Christianity today and Blue Letter Bible (Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons).
4. Check our your Christian bookstore. Most offer a plethora of books dealing with and addressing false teachings. Right now you can find numerous books on the DaVinci Code. Some are even discounted due to how many are available.
5. Ask your local pastor for help. He/She is smart, educated, and spent thousands of dollars on a degree (from a Christian school) that he/she would love to put to use! He/She might even have some books you could borrow to save money (just be sure to return them). She/He will point you into the right direction for help with such issues.
I encourage you to be informed. Ignorance isn’t an eligible excuse in our day and age. We are surrounded by information. Don’t let the Enemy keep you from learning about his ways because he sure knows about our ways. If you have any other helpful information let me know and I’ll be sure to add it to this post. Thanks and may God through the Holy Spirit prepare us for service to Him.