Acts 17:30- “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent...”
By: Lee Hsia, Downtown Campus Pastor, Houston’s First Baptist Church
June 4, 2019
The Apostle Paul is passionate, compassionate, and brilliant in engaging with the citizens of cosmopolitan Athens. In Acts 17, we read that Paul’s spirit became distressed when he saw that the city was full of idol worship (v. 16). That motivated him to engage every day in the Gospel with the religious people in their gathering places as well as with the worldly people in their gathering places (v. 17-21).
Paul affirmed the people of the city (v. 22-23), but he was also direct in calling out their ignorance (v. 23). Making the connection to their religious aspirations, he goes on to share the Gospel of Jesus (v. 24-31). As is my experience with evangelism around the world, Paul gets results, and the results are varied: some reject the Gospel, some want to talk more, and some accept Jesus as Savior and Lord (v. 32-34). It’s our responsibility to share the Gospel, and leave the results up to Him (John 6:44).
We are so privileged to live in Houston, the most diverse city in America! We’re diverse ethnically, but we’re also diverse spiritually. My heart is distressed because I see two large groups of our city that greatly need spiritual awakening, and to whom we the Church need to give the opportunity to receive the true Gospel. On the one hand, there are those who have been deceived by Satan into believing a false gospel, a gospel of salvation by human works of any kind. On the other hand, there are those who have never been exposed to Christianity, who have never heard the Gospel at all. I was in the latter group until I was 15, when I found a Bible laying on the ground of the driveway to my childhood home in Sugar Land.
Every person in both of these groups needs desperately to hear the Gospel, and we the Body of Christ in Houston need to proclaim it, with love and respect, all day, every day! “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:13-14)
Our Heavenly Father, we are calling upon You, God, to perform nothing less than an act of God. We ask that You cause great spiritual awakening in our beloved city of Houston. Would you stir the hearts and souls of our city to repent of sins and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord? Use us, Lord, your followers, to call all people, everywhere in the Houston area, to repent. May we be a Gospel-centered, Gospel-proclaiming city. In Jesus’ name, amen.