achieved because of the mutual support experienced and because the accountability to practice what has been learned is made more public. There are questions at the end of each of the chapters which address all the challenging issues of the teensí developing self-identity, growing independence and need for disengagement, questioning of their parentsí values and coping with the social pressures that come in the form of the car, substance abuse and sex. In Singapore, the social and peer pressure that teens face may be different from those described in the book so there is a need to contextualise some of the discussion questions. This requires the group leader to read Petersonís reflections perceptively and to recommend other appropriate questions that may be more useful to the generally more pragmatic needs of Singapore parents. This is a wonderful book for parents of teens. It may not help them find all the answers but it would certainly get them started in the right direction. (PK)
Though not many of us have the gift of evangelism, we are all "witnesses" for Christ. We can learn much from a gifted evangelist like Paul and thereby become more effective ambassadors for Christ. With this in mind, letís look at Paulís evangelistic efforts in Athens and draw some principles regarding evangelism for our own witnessing.
Paul was "greatly distressed" (v. 16) to see that Athens was full of idols. Perhaps Paulís feeling of distress was because of his jealousy for Godís glory Ė the Lord was not being glorified, but rather idols and the demons associated with them (cf. I Cor. 10:10). Perhaps Paul was feeling distress because he saw this city of humanity, lost and spiritually dead and held captive to the kingdom of darkness. Perhaps it was a combination of both of these realities.
Paul allowed his feelings of distress to move him into action. He started to evangelize. He took the initiative to preach about Christ. He preached in the synagogue as was his normal practice. He also spoke about Christ in the market place with any who were there (v. 17).
Some philosophers engaged Paul in dialogue in the market place. Paulís ideas were new to them so they took him to the "Council of the Areopagus" which met nearby (vv. 18 Ė 19). This council was a prestigious group which had authority over religious and educational matters in Athens. They asked Paul to present his ideas to the Council (v. 20).
Luke makes the comment that they were accustomed to listening and talking about the latest ideas (v. 21). Perhaps Luke was indicating that they were not seeking spiritual truth but rather intellectual stimulation. Indeed this group of proud intellectuals could not be considered a ripe mission field.
Paul takes a positive approach to his audience, referring to them as "very religious" (v. 22). He then mentions an altar which he saw in Athens with the inscription "To An Unknown God." Paul uses this altar as his launch-pad to preach to the Areopagus.
Paulís sermon to the Areopagus is quite different from most of his sermons recorded in the
of Acts. Most of his sermons are addressed to Jews and God-fearing Gentiles
who believed in the God of the Jews. But here at the Areopagus are found
not theists, but atheists (e.g. Epicureans), pantheists (e.g. Stoics),
and polytheists (e.g. idol worshipers). Therefore, rather than starting
his message with Godís covenant with Abraham, Paul starts with creation.
Rather than appealing to the Scriptures (i.e. special revelation), Paul
appeals to nature (i.e. general revelation). He addresses his audience
at the heart of their belief system, their world view: the origin of all
things (vv. 24 Ė 26), the nature of all things (vv. 27 Ė 30), and the end
of all things (vv. 30 Ė 31).
We can learn much through Paulís example there in Athens. Like Paul, we as Christians should: 1) be distressed by false religion; 2) take the initiative to share the message of Christ; 3) seek to understand the thoughts and beliefs of unbelievers; 4) take a positive approach in our sharing; 5) address the world view of our hearers; 6) with non-theists, start with creation and appeal to general revelation; 7) move toward talking about sin, repentance and Jesus. To these lessons we may add from Paulís example elsewhere that of 8) praying for unbelievers (cf. Rom 10:1).
(Walter Edman: Paul In Athens, Acts 17:16-34)
This week at Chapel, Kok Weng will share with us Prayer Pointers for Taiwan.