An Ancient Pattern for Modern Times
Acts 17:2-4
And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,…

This is quite an old world, and it is a long time since men and women began to try to find out how the great things in human life should be done, and how to make the best of everything. Many struggles, many failures, have no doubt, been experienced; but there has been, after all, a wonderful survival of the fittest, the best, on the whole. The result is, that there are very few really new things left for us to discover. For the most part, it is practically old things in a new dress — ancient patterns wrought out in modern forms. What wonder, then, if the modern Church of Christ should find her best example of work, and faith in the Church, ministers, and people, in the New Testament histories! I desire to call your attention now to Paul and his hearers, as giving to us a good example in these latter days.

I. We have an example of KEEPING THE SABBATH AND USING IT FOR DIVINE WORSHIP. "Paul, as his manner [custom] was, went in upon them," and joined in their worship. This worship of God springs out of the religious wants and instincts of the human soul; develops, strengthens, and perfects the aspirations of the soul in its following hard after God, things unseen and eternal. This we all much need. For six days in the week, the rule is, that our time and energies are centred in the struggle for existence and well being, amid things material and transient. It is hard work, too, to rule over the earth, and all that is therein, and have some true dominion over it, as, indeed, we ought to have. But when we have done that for six days, and the seventh day comes, and we rest from world ruling and training, as God rested from His world making — when this Sabbath of the Lord, this Sabbath made for man, has come, what are we to do with it, how use it? Paul and Silas, and the Jews, give us an example. Go to the synagogue, the meeting house, where God meets with His people, and they meet with Him. Go to the synagogue, where God is, and is worshipped by song, by prayer, by all reverent speech and thought, and so shall we attain principles and inspirations for godly living, which will give high, noble meaning, and resolute purpose to our entire lives.

II. We have an example of THE GENERAL OBJECT, ON WHICH OUR THOUGHTS SHOULD BE ESPECIALLY FIXED IN OUR SEASONS OF WORSHIP. It is God in Christ. God as revealed in Christ. Paul opened and alleged certain things concerning Christ. To him, Jesus Christ was God — God manifest in the flesh, in the form of a servant, and the fashion of a man. In Christ God was revealed in a new and wonderful form, uniting Himself with man as man, and lifting men up to a blessed union and fellowship with Himself. As a name, "Jesus the Christ" is the best translation of what God is to man, and for man. "Jesus" means "the Saviour," and there is an immensity of meaning in that when you consider the innumerable evils to body and soul for time, and in the far-off eternity, to which sinful men are deservedly and justly exposed. "The Christ" means "the anointed." Christ was set apart as Prophet to interpret and reveal the thoughts and love, and eternal purposes of God in the forms of human speech, life, suffering, and death — the form of a man, intelligible to all men everywhere. He was anointed — set apart as Priest — to appear in the presence of God for us, the sinful; and in the form of a man, through the Eternal Spirit, offer Himself in sacrifice for us, and obtain eternal redemption for us by His own blood. He was the anointed King, to rule over the new kingdom of grace and righteousness, to rule till all enemies to Him and to us shall be put under His foot.

III. We have an example of THE BEST MEANS OF FIXING OUR THOUGHTS ON CHRIST; securing clear conceptions concerning Him, and certitude of faith in Him. Paul "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." Reason in man is the apex of his spiritual nature — the point at which he touches the infinite in God, and the infinite in God touches and enters into finite man. Man is rational, because he is spiritual in living relation to God, who is a Spirit. He reasoned with them; he appealed to them by facts, by illustrations, by arguments, by principles, that they might know, understand, and believe the truth which he had to proclaim as a rational message from Jesus Christ to them and to all men. He "reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." When we reason, we commence from things which are admitted as true in fact, or in principle, on both sides, and then proceed to show that something else must also be true, on the ground of what has been already admitted. Paul and his hearers had things believed in common. Gods Moses, the prophets, the Scriptures as the veracious history of God's thought and purpose in the past ages. He got the premises, grounds, foundations of his arguments, his syllogisms, in the records of God's thoughts and deeds, as he reasoned with them to prove that Jesus is the Christ, and that their instant duty was to believe on Him and obey Him as their Saviour King. So it must be still, from the sacred Scriptures, from human experience, that the true preacher must reason, and by reason and reasoning convince the gainsayers, convert the careless, and lead the inquirer to faith in the Lord Jesus.

IV. We have an example of WHAT THE RESULT SHOULD BE IN THOSE WHO ARE HEARERS OF THE GOSPEL TESTIMONY. "Some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas." They believed, that is, they were persuaded by Paul's reasonings from Scriptures, and from facts well known and supported by reasonable evidence. In faith their minds looked out and up and saw the real Christ — the Saviour, King — and began, like Paul, to "count all things but loss for Him." Precious faith! for it sees Christ, embraces Christ, and, as such, is the root principle of the new life. But having believed, you see, they consorted with Paul and Silas. Man is social. Our very nature compels us to consort with one another. The means of this are doubtless very various. But, this sorting out and consorting of different classes for different purposes, are the strongest, most lasting, when the assortment arises from one faith, one love, one hope, one final end. But those are all found in Christian men and women whose one master faith is God in Christ; whose one controlling master love is God; whose one master inspiration in the darkest hour is the eternal hope of glory; and whose final end is "to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever."

(Prof. Wm. Taylor.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,

WEB: Paul, as was his custom, went in to them, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

Thessalonica and Berea
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