The Case for More Back and Forth
Look around Sunday morning during the service. Anyone sleeping? Anyone checking out text messages? Day dreaming? I realize that when I lecture, it’s easy to lose the students. In fact in South Korea when I taught the Book of Proverbs, the students would actually get out of their seat when they started nodding off and stand up for the rest of the fifty minutes.
In the first century the Apostle Paul didn’t use this kind of one-directional lecture method. For example: in the synagogue when they gave him the opportunity to present his case that Jesus was the Messiah, it became a back and forth argument, and arguments are not boring. Paul didn’t shut down questions and he answered boldly with strong proof from the Jewish Scriptures. He strongly believed what he was teaching and his goal was to persuade.
Paul didn’t do this just as a technique to get attention. He realized that the back and forth with strong interchange on all sides of an issue is effective not only in getting attention but persuading hearts to believe what you are teaching.
He was also a man of his word. In Acts 18:19 he told the Ephesian Jews he would come back to their synagogue and teach them and in today’s text we get to see him keep his word.
“Paul entered the synagogue and for a period of three months he spoke boldly about the things of the Kingdom of God, arguing and seeking to persuade his audience. Now when some of them began to harden and disobey, speaking slanderously against the Way before the synagogue crowd, Paul withdrew from them and took the disciples (those who had decided to follow Jesus) with him. Each day he debated in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued to take place over the course of two years with the result that all those dwelling in Asia heard the Word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” Acts 19:8-10
LORD, I need Your Spirit to give me the kind of boldness Paul had, his insights into the Old Testament that so powerfully pointed the way to Jesus, the Messiah and Savior. I also need your discernment to know when we have moved away from a constructive discussion, some hearts are hardening, and it’s time to move on with those who are receptive.
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