Bible studies for life Sunday School Lesson for May 23

Share the Message

Acts 17:16–18, 22–23, 30–31

America is a melting pot of peoples, cultures, ethnicities and worldviews. We can reach people from every tongue, tribe and nation practically at our back door. Our world needs to hear the liberating news of Jesus Christ. How can we communicate the gospel to our multicultural society?

Be sensitive to opportunities to share the gospel. (16–18)

After being run out of Berea, Paul settles in Athens, awaiting Silas and Timothy’s arrival. He could have taken it easy and treated himself to a much-needed respite.

Instead, Paul is deeply distressed (which also can be translated “infuriated”) by the sight of idols. The need of the people was great, and Paul’s sensitivity to their condition led him to share Christ in the synagogue and the marketplace. Are you deeply distressed over the lostness of those around you? Pray that God breaks your heart over the condition of this nation. Ask Him to make you sensitive to the lost around you.

Find common ground for introducing the gospel. (22–23)

Paul seeks common ground to introduce Christ to the Athenians. Observing that Athens was “religious,” he uses the altar “to an unknown god” as a launchpad to share Jesus. Likewise, in our witnessing encounters, we should intentionally look for ways to relate to the person as a means to introduce Christ.

For example, several years ago I was on an evangelistic visit. As I pulled up to a house, I immediately noticed the large orange flag with a white T on the back of the owner’s truck. He met us at the door in a faded orange, national championship T-shirt. Around the house was a lot of University of Tennessee paraphernalia. It was obvious this man loved UT football. Therefore, I used the Vols as a bridge to connect to him.

After this connection, he was much more receptive to hearing the gospel. Ask God to give you common ground as a bridge to a gospel presentation.

Help others understand the truth of the gospel. (30–31)

After relating to and gaining the attention of those gathered at the Areopagus, Paul shares that people must repent of their sin. Judgment day is coming, Paul proclaims, sharing the truth that God raised Jesus from the grave.

Similarly, we must help people understand the gospel. Too often we sugarcoat the truth of the coming judgment.

People cannot be saved until they repent and believe. A few years ago, I noticed a star-and-crescent pendant hanging from my Uber driver’s rearview mirror.

I immediately began to ask him questions about Islam. I briefly prayed for God to give me the wisdom to share the gospel and was led to ask if he ever thought about the coming Judgment Day.

He admitted he had a vivid dream the previous night about judgment, and his works were not good enough. In the dream, Jesus was telling him He would send someone to tell him the truth about judgment. Wow!

I began to explain the gospel, and that very day this man repented and believed. Again, ask God to make you sensitive to the spiritual needs around you, show you how to develop common ground, and give you the words to present the glorious news that Jesus saves.


By Rob Jackson, Ph.D.
Jackson has served in a variety of ministry roles, including pastor and state missionary.

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