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The art of explaining the faith in such a way as to make a reasoned defence against its detractors. Paul’s Areopagus sermon is a classic example of biblical apologetics, which can be of value to all who are called upon to defend the faith today.

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Paul’s Areopagus sermon, a classic example of biblical apologetics

Paul speaks to his listeners on their own ground, starting on their own terms

Acts 17:22–23 NRSV
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
Imagine you had your own company. You built it up from scratch. Through hard work, sleepless nights, and countless loans, you finally got the formula right. Your providing a service that people need. Your way of helping your customers is second to none. And because of not only what you do, but how you do it, the quality, service, and knowhow has brought you to a place of being a reputable, well known, and even honored company. And then, someone else takes over., they other ways of doing things, they begin to cut corners, lower standards, start to devalue their customers, before long the company is no longer enjoying its hard won reputation. How long does this take?
Not honoring God is devaluing the Christian position.
We cannot cut corners on our faith
We cannot lower our standards of what it means to be a Christian.
When we talk about each other in a negative way, arent we devaluing one another?
When I first walked into a church, I was struck by the reverence, the awesomeness of God. Why, I believe it was the foundation that the church was built upon, the fact that you are stepping into a space that has been set apart for God. Do we treat one another as being set apart for God?
It is the power of the Holy Spirit, settling into the space and our hearts when we accept Christ into our hearts, our homes, and our worship places (the Church).
Paul expresses his horror at seeing all of the idols that now permeate the space that was once occupied by the one true God. He explains the Christian position, he reminds the people who they are and whose they are.
We don’t cut corners on our faith. We cannot and must not try to shrink or otherwise shape God into a form that makes God fit into our daily lives. Our lives were given to us by God and our lives belong to God. Allowing God to transform us takes, faith, humbleness of heart, and a continuing walk in the will of Almighty God that occurs when we follow God’s way and not our own.

Paul presents the Christian position

Acts 17:24–27 NRSV
The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us.
We don’t cut corners on our faith. We cannot and must not try to shrink or otherwise shape God into a form that makes God fit into our daily lives. Our lives were given to us by God and our lives belong to God. WE are the ones that need to cry out to God. Mold me and Make me after your will!, not the otherway around. It is God who formed us and not we ourselves.

Paul supports his argument in a culturally appropriate way

Paul supports his argument in a culturally appropriate way

Paul quotes from two secular writers, first from the Cretan poet Epimenides, and secondly from the Cilician poet Aratus.

Paul concludes his argument and calls for a response

Acts 17:29–31 NRSV
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
The technique that Paul uses here in this text is known as Apologetics. It is the defense of the Gospel, not an excuse for it. It is using our acquired knowledge of our age to understand and communicate the Gospel the Euangelion, the Word that transforms our lives. For we are not to be conformed by this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Apologetics is a way to help us in our transformation process. To be Holy as God is Holy.

Apologetics as a regular feature of Paul’s ministry

Acts 18:4 NRSV
Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks.
See also ; ; ;

Apologetics is part of the work of church leaders

Titus 1:9 NRSV
He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it.

All Christians share responsibility for the task of apologetics

1 Peter 3:15 NRSV
but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you;

Other examples of Christians engaging in apologetics

Acts 18:28 NRSV
for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Messiah is Jesus.
See also ;

Apologetics alone is an inadequate way of presenting the gospel

1 Corinthians 1:17–25 NRSV
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
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