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TRIAL MONTH: DIRECT EXAMINATION

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By: Gabriela Yareliz

Today, we are talking about what it means to be an authentic seeker and giver. A direct examination is the witness’ opportunity to share his or her own truth to a judge, usually with an attorney who is helping him/her lay out the story.

When one shares one’s own story, it is done strategically with points that resonate and make an impact on the listener, whether that’s the jury, the judge, or both.

Come with me to Athens. Let’s start there.

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[Image via Greecebyagreek.com]

THE UNKNOWN GOD

Paul was walking through the crowded streets of Athens. Temples, philosophers, food, crowds– excitement! Paul is an observer. He is there to share Jesus. He takes his time and looks at his surroundings and what it reveals about the interests of those around him.

The first thing we should point out about Paul is that he doesn’t just stick to the synagogue with his “own kind”, but he goes to the marketplace, every day, to engage with those who happen to be there. Scripture tells us he conversed with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Bold. Paul knew these people were seeking after wisdom and answers. In many ways, they were just like him.

When Paul would share, people asked questions. He was open to questioning. The people were curious.

Scripture details his discourse at Mars Hill. Paul begins by stating what he has observed and how it relates to their search for God. Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.

Some of the people who heard Paul’s discourse about resurrection of the dead mocked him. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’” (From Act 17:16-33)

“That they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him.”

SEEKING

We discussed in our opening statement that if we want to share truth, then we must know truth. This doesn’t happen by accident but by intentional seeking. Our greatest treasure is Scripture, which is inspired by God Himself and reveals Him to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A lot of us find reading Scripture a challenge. How does one delve into Scripture? First, it’s important to find a Bible written in language you are comfortable with.

Next, I think knowing Scripture by memory is important, but the way we should familiarize ourselves with Scripture is not just by memorizing words but through understanding. Scripture is one of the greatest tools we have to develop an analytical mind.

“Scripture is one of the greatest tools we have to develop an analytical mind.”

So for example, rather than making a child memorize Scripture, I’d rather sit down with that child and ask them questions about what they just read.

  1. What is the context?
  2. Who wrote this?
  3. What happened?
  4. Why did that happen?
  5. Did the people receive instruction?
  6. What did the people in this passage do?
  7. Did they receive mercy?
  8. How did God intervene in this passage?
  9. What does this tell me about who God is?
  10. How might this passage apply to me?

This type of approach to Scripture teaches the child to think, and we too should use the same approach. It’s more valuable to teach people to search and think for themselves than to tell people what to think.

It is only by thinking for ourselves that there can be authenticity in what we believe.

“It’s more valuable to teach people to search and think for themselves than to tell people what to think.”

No one wants to hear a witness on a stand recite some memorized canned answer. Even if it’s the truth, it loses credibility in the delivery.

Scripture draws a parallel between Jesus and ‘the Word’ by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Scripture should invite us to be seekers. Reading Scripture is not about reading a book, but about pursuing a relationship with God, the Word– about seeking God’s revelation of Himself.

How we should approach Scripture:

  1. With prayer: Seeking truth should be a reverent and solemn task. We should ask for God to guide us in our understanding. He promises wisdom to all who seek it. (James 1:5)
  2. With hunger: Seeking truth should be something we are passionate about.

If Scripture is to be our measure of truth, that means we must approach it in the correct way and interpret it in the correct way.

The Bible is a book of prose, history and a compilation of people’s stories. It’s a book many have given their lives for.

“No one wants to hear a witness on a stand recite some memorized canned answer. Even if it’s the truth, it loses credibility in the delivery.” 

TESTIMONY

Paul in Scripture went out to non-Jewish audiences to witness; people with different backgrounds than his. Paul was someone who had intimate knowledge of Scripture, knowledge of culture and also had a personal experience.

We see him being bold in Athens. He spoke about Jesus and Scripture, and how God is the “unknown god” they were seeking. He appealed to their desire to worship; a desire each human being has inside. He quoted their own literature to them when he recited, “In him we live and move and have our being, for we are indeed his offspring”. Finally, Paul always discussed his personal encounter with God with those he met. He was open to the questions from the listeners.

He used a combination of all of his knowledge when he testified at Mars Hill. Paul testified truth in creative ways that drew his listeners. Sure, some mocked him, but some also said they wanted to listen to him again (Acts 17:32).

HE IS NEAR

Anyone seeking God can and will find Him. This is relevant regarding the people to which we are witnessing but also relevant to us and how we seek Him. To invite others to find Him– we must seek Him and experience Him first.

A humble heart and a hunger to seek helps us find God.

When we seek God and feel our way toward Him, we find Him. He is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:27)

“Anyone seeking God can and will find Him.”

 

 

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