Jump Start # 3458
Acts 17:2-3 “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.’”
It happened 180 years ago this month. Alexander Campbell, the great restorer of primitive Christianity, engaged in a debate in Lexington, KY with Presbyterian N. L. Rice. This would be Campbell’s fifth debate and it would be the longest of his debates. For sixteen days, (November 15-December 1), from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM, every day, the two men discussed baptism, the role of the Holy Spirit in conversion and the use of human creeds. The debate was printed in a massive 912 pages, half a million words, book that is still available today. The outcome of that debate solidified the movement of restoration and need for immersion for salvation.
The age of debating has pretty much fizzled out. I have attended a few many years ago. Today, most don’t care what the Scriptures teach. Most justify what they do by how they feel. Feelings have pushed faith and Scripture out of the picture.
Our verse today, shows that the apostle Paul for three weeks was reasoning from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence about Christ. Although formal debates do not attract the attention nor the crowds that they once did, what we learn from our verses today is so helpful in talking to our family and others.
Notice some things Paul did:
First, he went to them. They didn’t come to him. If we sit back and wait for others to bring up the topic, then it probably won’t happen. If we wait for others to ask us a question, we’ll be waiting a long time. Paul went to them. He was on the offense. He started the conversations. That’s a lesson for us. Ask the questions that will bring about conversations. “Did you go to worship this weekend?” “What Bible verses are you reading?”
When Philip went up to the chariot that the Ethiopian was riding in, he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He went to him.
Second, he reasoned from the Scriptures. That’s important. That’s powerful. That’s where we must begin. Some will reason from feelings. Some will reason from self. Some will reason from what their parents did. Some will reason from what their church tells them. Paul went to the Scriptures. That’s the source. That’s always the best place. The Scriptures are absolute. They are God’s answer.
Some may have to understand how to read Scriptures. Some many need to understand the authority of the Scriptures. But once that has been established, go to the book!
Third, he explained and gave evidence. Paul didn’t just read a passage. He taught. He explained. He showed the proof. Our faith is not blind. It does not rest upon thin air. Give the evidence. Back up what you say with Scripture. It’s not what our church believes. It’s not what I’ve always heard. Look in the book. Dig. Lower the nets.
Let me add, it is very helpful that the person you are talking with has a Bible. Let them read and see these things in their own Bible. If the discussion ends, their Bible will always say what you showed them. Be kind. Stick to one topic and don’t spend an hour jumping from one topic to another and chasing rabbits through the fields. You’ll accomplish nothing that way.
Explain. Show. Give evidence. Then it will be up to the person’s heart and God. You have done your part. There are many current events that give you an opportunity to have a Bible discussion. The war in Israel, is it prophesied? What about abortion? What about changing gender? What about worship?
Get to the book and let’s see what God says about this.
Honest hearts change when they see clearly what God says.