But Paul replied, “I’m not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. On the contrary, I’m speaking words of truth and good judgment… “I wish before God,” replied Paul, “that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am—except for these chains.” (Acts 26:25, 29, HCSB)
Atheists claim that the idea of the existence of God is incompatible with empirical observations. The Old Testament deals with this type of skepticism: “The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.” They are corrupt; their actions are revolting. There is no one who does good (Psalm 14:1, HCSB).” But it can be argued that the skepticism described in this psalm was not intellectual but moral – it wasn’t the intellectual denial of God but the practical denial of God. In other words, the fool is LIVING as if there were no God.
Intellectual atheism is a relatively new idea and appeared in human history.
But in the era of the Bible, the prophetic proofs of God in the Old Testament aren’t given to prove God exists but to prove that the Hebrew God was “stronger” than the other nations’ gods. This would probably have been true for Festus as well – he would have had a pantheon of Greek gods from which to choose.
And so Paul witnesses to his captor. There are three elements to Paul’s evangelism. First, he is speaking historical truth. He also uses reason and good judgment. And finally, there is the testimony of his own life. Ultimately Festus determines: “…This man is doing nothing that deserves death or chains (Acts 26:31, HCSB).”
So as you go throughout your week witnessing for the Lord, try to use Paul’s three-pronged approach: 1) the truth of Scripture; 2) the weight of reason; and 3) the support of a moral lifestyle. Like a three-legged stool, each is necessary. If one is missing, you’re in for a spill.
May the Lord bear much fruit through us!