Acts 17:1-34

by Shaun Caudill

As important as it is to know what you believe, it is just as important to know why you believe it. Asking others the question, “Why do you believe what you believe?” is part of the ministry that God has given us to help others recognize their need for Christ.

In Acts 17, we see Paul reasoning with his audience. Twice in this chapter, the Bible uses the word “reason.” When we reason with others, we discuss two opposing views and respectfully show how one is a better foundation than the other to build one’s life upon. Acts 17:17 says “So he reasoned…with [them].” It is not a verbal argument to prove one person is better or superior than another but a discussion of which idea is more truthful. This is what Paul does as he talks with others in this chapter. In fact, when Paul is in Athens, he is so moved in his spirit by the idol worship that he begins to preach. He finds ways to reason with others about why Christ is the true God. The Bible shows us that Paul used what was familiar to his audience, as well as Scripture, to help people see if their worldview lined up with God’s truth. Notice that some scoff and walk away, but others think about what Paul states. They admit that it makes sense and want to know more. When you talk with others, do you reason with them, or do you argue with them? Can you let someone make up their own mind, or are you frustrated when people don’t believe what you want them to?

In the same way that Jesus used parables to get people to think, Paul reasoned with others to make them come face to face with their own beliefs so as to create a crisis of decision. I’ve come to realize that I have not walked in other people’s shoes and sometimes don’t understand the reason a person holds a particular belief. It could be because of a personal hurt or painful situation they have experienced. If I argue and make them feel stupid, I may being doing greater damage–even if I am right. If I share God’s truth and then ask questions, causing them to think about what they believe and why, they will have to wrestle between themselves and the Holy Spirit to come to the truth. Would you ask God to help you become a minister of helping people ask “Why?”

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