And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved-so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last!1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
In the past year or so, we have experienced an avalanche of information. There are conflicting views on any number of topics. How do you know who and what to trust? I think one of the most significant challenges centers on our ability to think critically.
How do we do that? We listen, but we do not take everything at face value. Critical thinking requires us to be skeptical and not believe everything we are told just because an authority figure is making a proclamation. Paul described the skeptics he admired in Acts 17 as he described the people of Berea –
they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them, therefore, believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.Acts 17:11b-12
As followers of Christ, we are dependent on the Truth revealed through Scripture. So what did Paul preach? How did he persuade people during his travels?
We see a picture of Paul’s strategy here –
And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days, he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ. 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.Acts 17:2-4
While he spoke of the culture and quoted contemporary poets, Paul’s primary strategy was to use Scripture as the basis for his attempts to persuade others concerning the identity of Christ.
Those who received Christ accepted Paul’s preaching as “what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
How effective are we in knowing and sharing God’s truth today? What can we do today to strengthen our position?