Reason (July 22)

Acts 17:1-12

Comment

Though Paul certainly could confront people with truth when necessary, the hallmark of his approach was his logical and reasoned presentation of the gospel message. Read any of the letters he wrote—Romans is the best example—and you’ll see that he was a master at laying out a sound explanation for the central truths about God’s nature, our sin, Christ’s solution.

When you look at his background, Paul’s organized mind doesn’t come as a surprise. He was highly educated, tutored under a man who was reputed to be one of the finest teachers in the land. In his writings, you can see his natural tendency to argue point-counterpoint with imaginary foes who might challenge his positions. Paul was an intellect to be reckoned with.

Can you think of a better person for God to send to the philosophers in Athens? The account in Acts 17, where you’ll find Paul presenting an ingenious argument, starting from the Athenian idol to an unknown god and moving all the way to the only true God and His resurrected Messiah. His approach was so effective that some of his followers became believers.

It’s interesting to note the wisdom God displays in His choice of spokesmen. These philosophers would not have related to Peter’s direct, “turn-or-burn!” approach. They needed logic that conclusively proved its point.

(Bill Hybels & Mark Mittleberg, Becoming a Contagious Christian, Zondervan, 1994, p. 125)

Synagogue

Synagogue – a congregation of Jews who gather to pray, read Scripture, and hear teaching and exhortation based on scripture and the place where such a congregation assembles.

(Harper’s Bible Commentary: Revised and Updated, Harper & Row, 2011)

Reading the Scripture

Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the church office.)

•    Video:
o    The Book of Acts: The Visual Bible (Dramatized video movie, word for word from the NIV text. Available from Keith or this web page).
o    WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)


Teaching Suggestions

•    The synagogue was the center of learning, fellowship and worship for the Jewish community. You can find pictures of the ruins of two synagogues in The New Testament World in Pictures, William H. Stephens (Broadman Press, 1987, pp. 207 and 214) and an artist’s depiction of a synagogue in the Holman Bible Dictionary (Holman Bible Publishers, p. 1312) (Both in Tommy’s office).

•    Maps/Atlas: Locate Thessalonica and Beroea (Berea) on a Bible map. We have a number of maps and Bible Atlases on the Sunday School teachers’ shelf in the library.

•    Our church supports a number of theological and other educational institutions: Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Georgetown College, Campbellsville University, Oneida Baptist Institute, Clear Creek Baptist Bible College, LABC Weekday Preschool, Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, and others through Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
o    In light of today’s scripture, what is the importance of these educational institutions for the Christian message?
o    Learn more about some of these institutions and share with your class. Help our members understand our educational partnerships. See our web page for descriptions and links (/labc-glocal-ministries/ ) or the Glocal Ministries flyer provided previously. If you don’t have time to look at all of these institutions, maybe you could pick one to highlight, like Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.

•    Kay Floyd Memorial Project: Today is Kay Floyd Memorial Project collection Sunday. This project seeks to provide school supplies for local school children. Invite someone from the Mary Martha class to talk about the Kay Floyd project. See Cynthia Frey for more information. In connection with today’s lesson highlight the importance of educating children.

•    Education at LABC:
o    What are the ways we educate at LABC? (for example Sunday School, missions education, Vacation Bible School, conversations, modeling, worship symbols, etc.)
o    Church Budget: Take a look at the church educational budget. Consider how much we spend on education.

•    LABC Core Values: One of our Core Values is Spiritual Growth (below). Is this value related in any way to Reason in today’s lesson? How?
We are committed to equip and to help our church family to cultivate deeper relationships with Christ and to become effective ministers. Our spiritual growth is shaped through age appropriate Bible Studies, Sunday school classes, and other opportunities for spiritual formation.(2 Timothy 3:16-17)

•    Evangelism Styles: “Suggestions for Using and Developing this Style” (from Becoming a Contagious Christian: Participant’s Guide, p. 29) - Intellectual
o    Set time aside to study and prepare. This style, more than the others, relies on preparation. Take serious action on what it says in 1 Peter 3:15:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
o    Avoid doing all the preparation in an academic vacuum. Get out and talk to others. Try out your arguments and answers on real people, and make refinements as needed.
o    Develop your relational side. Talk to people about everyday events, and what is happening in their life and yours.

Resources

I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons.

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)

•    Synagogue:
o    The New Testament World in Pictures, William H. Stephens (Broadman Press, 1987, pp. 207 and 214)
o    Holman Bible Dictionary (Holman Bible Publishers, p. 1312)

•    Evangelism Resources:
o    Becoming a Contagious Christian, Bill Hybels & Mark Mittleberg (Zondervan, 1994)
o    Becoming a Contagious Christian: Participant’s Guide, Mark Mittleberg, Lee Stobel & Bill Hybels (Zondervan, 1995)
o    Got Style? Personality-Based Evangelism, Jeffrey A. Johnson (Judson Press, 2009)
o    Anytime, Anywhere: Sharing Faith Jesus Style, William L. Turner (Judson Press, 1997).