Paul Vs. Athens: Engaging The Culture With The Gospel Acts 17:16-34 -- By: Tony Merida

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 06:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Paul Vs. Athens: Engaging The Culture With The Gospel Acts 17:16-34
Author: Tony Merida

Paul Vs. Athens:
Engaging The Culture With The Gospel
Acts 17:16-34

Tony Merida

Dr. Merida serves as Pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS and Assistant Professor of Preaching (ministry-based) at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he formerly served as Dean of the Chapel.

Tom Rainer recently stated in a chapel sermon at NOBTS that in the past 6 months, less than ½ of the pastors in the SBC have shared the gospel one time! He added that less than 1 of 10 church members in the SBC will ever begin a conversation about the Gospel. What a sad commentary on all who are called to proclaim the excellencies of God (1 Peter 2:9).

Why do we find it so hard to share the best news in the world? In Mark Dever’s The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, he provides a list of some common excuses: (1) “I don’t know their language” (2) “It is illegal” (3) “It could cause problems at work” (4) “Other things seem more urgent” (5) “I don’t know any non-Christians” (Dever, 19-23). He also says that sometimes we make excuses concerning the hearers, such as “they don’t want to hear,” “they want be interested,” or “they’ve probably heard it before” (ibid. ).

We could make excuses for days, while the world waits to hear.

Recently, the popular comedian Penn Jillette, from Penn and Teller Show, was evangelized after one of his shows. Penn has been an outspoken atheist for some time. A humble gentleman gave Penn a Bible and talked with him. It had a great affect on Penn. Penn’s response shocked me. He said that he has never respected anyone who does not share their faith. He believes that if you believe you have the truth, then you should share it. Penn asked, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Penn went on to say about this gracious evangelist: “This guy was a really good guy. He was polite and honest and sane, and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible, which had written in it a little note to me . . . and then listed five phone numbers for him and an e-mail address if I wanted to get in touch.” (Baptist Press,; video also on You-Tube).

A pastor in Las Vegas, John Mark Simmons, commented: “That episode is a wonderful encouragement for all of us to be salt and light. If you know anything at all about

Penn or his shows, you know he pretty muc...

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