“Going After The Lost Sheep And Those That Were Yet In The Fold!”


“Going After The Lost Sheep And Those That Were Not Yet In The Fold!”(Acts17: 16-34).
During a retreat yesterday with elected elders and group leaders who have to be dedicated/introduced as leaders of their groups today, I reminded them of the song, “Bi ghò la nta’ ba ndzòmbi le ntò mù…” Go and search for the lost sheep and bring back…”
Lost sheep should not be limited to backsliders perse. There are so many scattered sheep out there who have not once tasted the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of believers.
Going in search of the lost sheep and bringing them into the fold presupposes that the pulpit within the church house is not enough; it is too limited.
Lost sheep wander in wide wild fields. Such are the places where the good news have to be taken to.
“Give me that old time religion…” is reminiscing on cherished practices of old that needs to be revisited.
Paul was in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him. “He was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” What did he do? First he went to the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks. He also went to the market day by day to reason with those who happened to be there. Among those who listened and began to dispute with him were Epicurian and Stoic philosophers. They called Paul a babbler; meanwhile Athenian residents were the ones who “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.”
The philosophers took Paul to the Areopagus. Areopagus means hill of Ares who was the greek god of thunder and war. In New Testament times it was a place where religions and morals were discussed. They even considered themselves to be custodians of teachings that introduced new religions and foreign gods.
They asked Paul to tell them about the new religion he seemed to be bringing.
From here on Paul brought the good news to them. Paul did not just give them the full dosage of the gospel at once.
He began from the known before proceeding to the unknown that he was introducing to them.
Paul’s approach to evangelism here is a good example of contextualising the gospel. First he acknowledged that the Athenians in every way were very religious; even having an altar with the inscription: “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Cueing from there, Paul told them that what they worshipped as unknown is what he was bringing to them. He told them about God who does not live in temples built by humans; but he is not far from humans. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Paul contextualised his message further by citing some of their poets who said, “We are his offspring.”
In the two quotes above the first was from the Cretan poet Epimenides and the second from Cilician poet Aratus.
Paul concluded with his core message – which is for us too; that in the past God may have overlooked the human ignorance of idol worship. “But now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
My dear friend, this message is for us too!
Conclusion: It is good to First identify the problem as Paul did. The city was full of idols.
Strategy to solve the problem: He preached, first in the Synagogue, then the marketplace and lastly, the Areopagus.
Methodology: Contextualisation. He recognised and appreciated that the Athenians were in every way “very religious.” He used the inscription on one of their altars as an entry point in introducing God Almighty. He preached in the Areopagus which by its very name was the place of a god. He quoted from Greek poets whom the philosophers were familiar with.
Results: There were three responses to Paul’s sermon.

  1. Some rejected it as they sneered when he talked about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  2. Some procrastinated as they said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
  3. Lastly are the few who “became followers of Paul and believed. “
    Lessons from the responses show that we must not expect to win the crowd. The majority may sneer at us or procrastinate. That should not discourage us. Few will always follow and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    We should continue to work on the sneerers and the procrastinators until they become followers to become believers. Let us walk out of the four walls of the church house, fetch and bring home the wandering sheep.
    At the end of the day it is, repent and believe. Have truly done so?
    Sunday prayer: Holy Spirit guide our paths in our search for the lost sheep. Amen!
    Have a blessed Sunday! Peace be with you!


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