A Bridge to Mars Hill – Acts 17:18-34

Notice, too, the various reactions to Paul’s proclamation, in vv. 32-34. Some mocked; others said, “We will hear you again about this;” and others joined Paul and believed. These are pretty typical reactions. Despite Paul’s brilliance, there were the typical scoffers, put-offers, and believers. But, at least, there were some whom the Lord saved. The bridge was built, the gospel was carried across, and some received it by God’s grace through faith. We know two of the believers by name: one was a woman by the name of Demaris; the other was a member of the council of Ares, Dionysius the Areopagite.

So, are you ready to go argue for the gospel, like Paul, before the ivory tower intellectuals of the day? The fact is not too many people get to the level of bridge-building Paul demonstrated at the Areopagus. Paul was off the chart brilliant and educated, bold and determined, experienced and proven, zealous for God’s name, equipped to the max, called as an apostle, having direct access to revelation from God, empowered by the Spirit of God to such a point he could even raise the dead (Acts 20:7-12). Paul was absolutely the right man to go before the intimidating Areopagus. Even so, consider the results—very few believed.

We can find hope and encouragement in this. however. Only God knows what your limits are, when it comes to what you might be capable of accomplishing in witness. Perhaps you are one who can or may one day be capable of handling such an undertaking of bridge-building at the level of Paul’s Areopagus speech. You don’t know. Only God knows. But remember, Paul did not start with the Areopagus. He started small, just like everyone, first laying a log across a stream.

God will prepare you. He has provided his Word for knowledge of true truth (2 Tim. 3:16-17). He has given you spiritual gifts of some kind (1 Cor. 12). He will provide the words when you need them (Luke 12:12; Luke 21:14-15). He providentially provides opportunities (Rom. 8:28; Gal. 1:15; Acts 26:14). He provides you with the strength to be faithful (Phil. 2:13). And the truth of the Lord’s Word has power and will accomplish his purposes (Isaiah 55:11; Rom. 1:16). Yet, he also requires you to prepare yourself and to be ready to execute his mission (1 Peter 3:15).

Now, if all this (evangelism, sharing Christ, witnessing, explaining the hope of Christ you possess—i.e. bridge-building) … if all this is, for whatever reason, a new undertaking for you, start small by laying a log across a stream, and then advance from there. Whatever the case might be for you, what God wants is willing and faithful laborers, as “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2).

If you are faithful, as a result of your efforts, some will scoff; some will put you off; some will believe. That’s the way of things. Praise God that all we have to do is be faithful to him, in gospel bridge-building. He handles the heart change and faith of the hearer.

And we just keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it. In the process, we get better, and better, and better. As a result, God keeps bringing those whom he has chosen and called into his kingdom by means of your faithfulness. What a wonder!

Brothers and sisters, go out there and make some disciples! Because the world is crying out for Jesus, we must introduce him to them.

 


[1] Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is Not Silent; The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, vol. 1 (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 290.

[2] Craig S. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: 15:1–23:35, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014), 2594.

[3] Ibid., 2581.

[4] Schaeffer, 275–276.

[5] Ibid., 279.