Saturday, June 18, 2022

Telling Brainiacs About Jesus

“So [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. – Acts 17:17

During my past 28 years in ministry, I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors to share the good news of Jesus Christ. And do you know what I’ve discovered? In my experience, the lower-income families tend to be the most receptive to hearing about Jesus. They tend to open their doors more widely, and their ears are more open to what I have to say. Often, upper-middle-class and upper-class families keep their front doors closed … along with their ears and their minds.

And that’s a shame. More times than not, adults who are highly educated, wealthy and successful don’t want to budge. They like where they are. So, they have no motivation to change, even when they hear the good news of Jesus Christ loud and clear. When it comes to sharing the gospel, wealthy intellectuals are a tough crowd. This was especially true during Paul’s day in the city of Athens, Greece.

In Paul’s day, Athens had a rich history of being the intellectual center of the world. For centuries, Athens was the place where the brainiacs of the world gathered to discuss and debate the latest philosophies. And the city was filled with beautiful buildings, museums and statues—especially of gods and goddesses. When Paul went to Athens, Acts 17:16 tells us, “he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” His heart broke for those who were looking for God in all the wrong places.

But his reaction to the city’s idolatry wasn’t just negative. It was also positive and constructive. He “reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there” (v. 17).  He spoke to God-fearing Jews, idol-worshiping pagans, and everyone in between. Some were receptive to his message. Many others weren’t. But Paul kept preaching. He kept teaching. He kept striking up conversations. And it eventually paid off. Paul was invited to share his newfangled philosophy with the best and brightest philosophers in Athens—a group called the Areopagus Council. They were the brainiacs in town, and, like today’s Supreme Court, they handed down verdicts in matters related to judicial and religious issues.

When Paul preached to the council, he began with a compliment: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious” (v. 22). Rather than telling them they were wicked, or misguided, or going to hell, Paul began on common ground. In verse 23, he showed that he had taken time to walk around and examine the Athenians’ objects of worship—and that that he had discovered an altar that was inscribed “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” Then Paul made this beautiful segue: “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” He went on to tell them about God the Creator and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul was able to get through most of his message, but some folks in the crowd started heckling (v. 32). Overall, it doesn’t appear that as many people accepted Christ in Athens as Paul had hoped. But a number of men and women did, including an Areopagus member named Dionysius and a woman named Damaris. Winning intellectuals to Christ has never been easy—even for the great Apostle Paul. But here are four tips from Paul’s playbook on sharing Christ with brianiacs:

Tip #1: Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with their home turf. One of the biggest mistakes people can make when they share Jesus is failing to listen or pay attention to the person they’re talking to. Remember the old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Before you tell people about Jesus, let them first see Jesus in you. Let them see that you care about them as a person, and what’s important to them is also important to you.

Tip #2: When you start talking, begin with a compliment on common ground. I’ve never been a big fan of many Christians’ picket signs outside sports stadiums and at political rallies. Signs that read “Turn or burn!” or “You’re going to hell” or “God hates sinners!” Was that the approach Jesus took with unchurched people? Was that the approach Paul took with Gentiles? And the answer is … No. The old saying is true: “You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.” So, be kind to those around you who need Christ, and speak kind words, especially at the beginning of your conversation.

Tip #3: No matter where your conversation begins, direct the conversation clearly and convincingly to Jesus. The same should be said about ALL our evangelistic conversations. We don’t want to convince people how great we are. We want them to focus on how great Jesus is. We don’t want people remembering us. We want them remembering Him. We don’t want people asking themselves, “What must I do to be as cool as that guy?” We want them to ask us, “What must I do to be saved?”

Tip #4: Always surrender the results to God. Please never forget this: It’s NOT your job to open a closed mind or soften a hard heart. That’s God’s job. You can’t save a single lost soul. That’s something only God can do. Your job is to speak the truth about Jesus Christ in love and give people an opportunity to respond to that truth. You pray and wait. You wait and pray. And you make yourself available to walk someone through their confession of faith and baptism when they’re ready.

While you wait, you repeat the four steps with others. Others need to hear that they were created by God. That Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead so that we could be forgiven and enjoy eternal life. Many people you talk to will refuse to accept this truth. But others will accept it. So, tell them, and surrender the results to God.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Study the Bible … the Right Way

The Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day. – Acts 17:11

Imagine for a moment a church that teaches that God is the Easter Bunny, Jesus was a Viking pirate and Jerusalem was built by extraterrestrials. How would you know whether or not these teachings were true? Perhaps you’ve believed in error all these years.

 Well, keep this in mind: Bad things happen when two things go wrong in a church: 1) when Christian pastors and teachers aren’t faithfully teaching their congregations the word of God, and 2) when Christians aren’t studying the Scriptures to make sure what they’re being taught is in line with God’s Word.

So, Paul and Silas must have been impressed when their missionary travels took them from Thessalonica to Berea. On the Sabbath day after they arrived, Paul entered the Jewish synagogue and started telling people about Jesus. And in verse 11, Luke gives us a wonderful summary of Paul’s ministry in Berea: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

The Bereans are held up in this chapter as role models for you and me for three reasons. #1: The Bereans “were of more noble character than the Thessalonians.” The original Greek word translated as “noble” in the NIV Bible is “eugenes,” which also translates as “more open-minded” (NLT), “more willing to listen” (NCV), and “more receptive” (NRSV). In other words, the Bereans received Paul’s teaching with open ears. They weren’t “know-it-alls.” #2: The Bereans listened to the message with “great eagerness.” They were enthusiastic Bible students. And #3: The Bereans examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

The Bereans received Paul’s teaching enthusiastically, with open ears and an open mind—but they didn’t take what he said at face value. They did their homework. They searched and examined and studied the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said stood the test of God’s word. Then, and ONLY then, did they believe his teaching, hide it in their hearts and walk in obedience to it. I hope and pray that millions of Americans would do the same thing these Bereans did.

When it comes to correctly handling the word of truth, the stakes are too high for us to slack off. God is calling you to be a Berean. Here are five practical steps to help you do just that:

Step #1: Be an eager, enthusiastic student of God’s Word. Come to church on time with an open mind and heart.

Step #2: Listen carefully to the message being taught, with an open Bible in hand. Pastor Kevin DeYoung says, “You do not want to be at a church where you can listen to sermon after sermon and it doesn’t even matter if your Bible is open. You want to be at a church where the preaching is pulling you into the text—to see it, to listen to it, to find connections with it.”

Step #3: Take notes and write down questions so you can test what is taught with Scripture. Let’s be honest with each other: Most American Christians believed they have fulfilled their duty if they have gone to church and politely listened to the sermon. That’s not enough. The New Testament tells us to “Correctly handle the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

Step #4: Spend quality time in God’s word EVERY DAY. You will never become a Berean if you just study the Bible once a week. Read at least one chapter every day and spend some time thinking about it, asking questions, searching for the answers to your questions, and praying over it.

Step #5: Give the Bible the final say in all matters of life and doctrine. Please don’t let me, or ANY pastor or teacher, boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, professor or boss, have the final word on matters of life and doctrine. GOD must have the final say. And God’s final say is detailed in the pages of Scripture.

Chuck Swindoll says it really well: “No matter how gifted or charismatic or well-trained and experienced your Bible teacher or pastor may be, form the healthy habit of checking what is being said against the Scriptures.” If you truly want to become “of more noble character” like the Bereans, let God and His Holy Word have the final say.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Singing in the Slammer

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” – Acts 16:25

Back in the Apostle Paul’s day, Jewish men prayed a specific prayer of thanks every morning. In that prayer, a Jewish man would thank God for not making him a Gentile, a woman or a slave. But in Acts 16, we can read about members of all three despised groups redeemed and united in faith in Christ.

After parting ways with Barnabas, Paul set off with his new missionary teammate Silas to strengthen the churches he’d planted in Syria and Cilicia. Then, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul and Silas found their way to Philippi, where they helped lead these three unlikely converts to Jesus Christ.

The first was a wealthy businesswoman named Lydia. Paul headed to the river and found a group of Jewish women who were meeting for prayer, worship and a discussion of the Scriptures. Paul joined in the discussion, and he led Lydia to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. As soon as she became a Christian, she offered her home as a place to stay for Paul and his group of missionaries.

The second Christian convert was a demon-possessed slave girl. We’re not specifically told that she got saved, but it’s implied. According to verse 16, this girl “had a spirit by which she predicted the future. And she earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling.” Paul didn’t want demons or any slave masters pulling this girl’s marionette strings, so he commanded the demon in the name of Jesus Christ to leave her. The demon DID leave her. And when the girl’s owners saw that she was set free from her demon, they were furious—because her freedom hit them right in the wallet.

So, the slave girl’s owners brought Paul and Silas to the local magistrates and drummed up some bogus charges against them. Because a small mob was forming, the magistrates had a kneejerk reaction. To appease the unruly crowd, they flogged Paul and Silas severely and threw them into prison for the night. They ordered the jailer to guard them carefully, so he placed them in an inner cell with their feet in stocks.

But something very surprising happened at midnight, as Paul and Silas were sitting on the cold stone floor with their backs throbbing in agony. Instead of grumbling and complaining, Paul and Silas began praying and joyfully singing. And as they prayed and sang, a violent earthquake shook the prison. According to verse 26, “All at once the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” The jailer, who had been sleeping at the time, woke up. And when he saw that all the prison doors were open, he assumed all the prisoners had escaped. Not wanting to face the public disgrace of being shamed and possibly executed for letting his prisoners escape, the jailer pulled out his sword, ready to take his own life. But Paul called out to him, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

After the jailer turned on the lights and found the prisoners right where he left them, he fell trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out of their cells and asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 30). And that night, after hearing the gospel message, the jailer and his entire household accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and were baptized.

And there you have it: three very different individuals who became followers of Christ in Philippi: a wealthy businesswoman, a poor slave girl and a middle-class Gentile man in law enforcement. As Paul had recently written to the Galatians, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

I’d like to give you two powerful insights from this chapter to meditate on.

Insight #1: Any fool can sing during the day. But God gives His followers songs in the night. It’s easy to sing when the lights are on, the kids are behaving and you’ve just polished off a hot cup of coffee. It’s much harder to sing at midnight when you’ve been wrongly accused, beaten up and thrown in the Big House. But that is the BEST time to praise God. That’s when praise becomes REALLY powerful. Just like in that Philippian dungeon, that’s when people around you will sit up straight and listen, saying to themselves, “There’s something different about this person. They have something that I don’t have, and I want it.”

Insight #2: Always be ready to share the Good News of Jesus Christ—at any time, at any place and in any way. God calls you and me to share Christ with those around us: whether we’re in our family room, in our neighbor’s driveway, at school or work, on the basketball court or in the checkout line at WalMart.

Think about it: Paul was never really imprisoned. He could sing in jail just as easily as he could sing at church. And he could share Christ with cons in the clink just as easily as he could share Christ with law-abiding citizens in a synagogue. It didn’t matter, because as long as He was right where God wanted him to be, He was free to sing and free to share Jesus. The same could be said about you and me. No matter where we are, no matter who we’re with, we are free to pray, free to sing, free to lead people to Jesus Christ.

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook Live. For more information, visit