And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Early in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 17, when Paul approaches the Jews, he just uses Scripture
(the Bible). They were churched people.
But, later in
that chapter, when speaking to the unchurched people of Athens, he uses a simple creation approach -- not
Only in THISPASSAGE
(I refer to the second passage below, Romans 1:15-25) is it stated that a systematic
presentation of the GOSPEL is to follow. It starts with God's Creation,
NOT the Bible, not Scripture. Creation is God's FIRST point of contact with people.
Creation, NOT the Bible, is God's FIRST interface
with humans. The New Testament -- Romans 1:
Verse 15b --
I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
19-20: Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by
the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
Creation is the correct, FIRST, interface between God and
the ordinary, unchurched person. Inclusion is then, later, made of the Bible.
New Testament -- Acts 17:
22Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars'
hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him
declare I unto you.
24God that made the world and all things therein,
seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed,
and the bounds of their habitation;
27That they should seek the Lord, if haply
they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver,
or stone, graven by art and man's device.
times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof
he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
departed from among them.
34Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and
believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Paul uses a very simple, effective, Special Creation argument: How
can a dead statue make us who live and breathe! One has to be smarter and more capable than, what one makes.
is true that only a few stuck around to talk with Paul further. But, that's more than we get preaching the
Bible to "unchurched" folks. Undoubtedly, Paul, moved on soon to introduce them to the Scriptures.
Let us further look at the New Testament -- Romans 1. This is the
letter by the Apostle Paul to the new Christian Church at Rome.
I emphatically say that, here alone, in all the New Testament, is the Gospel (meaning
"good news") set forth in fairly systematically manner. Aspects of the Gospel are touched
upon throughout the New Testament, but only here, do we find a formal presentation, though not exhaustively
so -- there are some details missing here, and found elsewhere.
15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel
to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to
every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
17 For therein is the righteousness
of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from
heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that
which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead;
so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither
were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be
wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and
to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their
own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and
served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Again, emphatically, I say, that the Gospel
presentation correctly starts with what we call, NATURE, NOT with SCRIPTURE (the Bible!) God's initial, and primary,
interface with most people is the physical world, NOT, the Bible!
We should take an important lesson from this. As is clear in verses 18-20, mankind's
knowledge of and realization of God existence, is absolutely certain from God's created physical world. Further,
God's judgment has been ongoing due to mankind's dislike and disregard of him, and their failure to give God glory and thanksgiving
for all he has made, and provided for them.
Thus, God's physical creation should be our evangelical starting point, especially for
unchurched folks. This passage makes clear that all mankind is on death row, being completely without excuse.
They know judgment is certain. They badly need the Savior! Then, we may move to Romans chapters 3-12, or other
Bible passages, with the Gospel, the "good news," and with all of the wonderful details.
Romans chapter 10:1-13
is often used for specifics to help a person see what they must do to become a Christian:
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they
might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish
their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for
righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But
the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is,
to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh
thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with
thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same
Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
See my page They Came to Jesus! for a handy way to help a person come to Jesus Christ by viewing three men in the New Testament who do just
that, right before our eyes.