In Acts 17:1-4, Paul accomplished his work in Thessalonica “out of the scriptures.” Those who were saved in Thessalonica were save because they believed what the scriptures said about Jesus Christ.
When you are dealing with the lost, there is sometimes a question about the best way to deal with them. When I was younger, D. James Kennedy published Evangelism Explosion, which was a guided manual on how to lead someone to Christ. Bill Bright published the four spiritual laws to help Christians lead the lost to Christ. These days, there are some who believe lifestyle evangelism is the way to go. And still, others, who believe in predestination to salvation, don’t believe you need to do anything, since the decision has already been made by God for those who will believe.
The truth is, we should be careful to do the same things Paul did when dealing with lost souls. We should deal with them out of the scriptures. You should purchase a New Testament that is easy to carry and printed in a large enough font to be easily read. This way, you will be able to deal with souls out of the scriptures, with an open Bible in front of them.
Notice what Paul did out of the scriptures. Paul:
Reasoned out of the scriptures – Acts 17:2 – to reason is to speak in a logical way or to support or justify what you’re saying with reasons. As Isaiah wrote, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord,” Is 1:18. When you reason with a sinner, you give them a logical explanation of the gospel, well illustrated and supported with good reasons that explain why they must believe on Jesus Christ. For instance, death is a good reason why a person must be saved. Nothing but eternal life can solve our problem with death. And Jesus offers eternal life. That’s very reasonable.
Reasoning out of the scriptures is not apologetics. In Nabeel Qureshi’s book “Seeking Allah, Finding God,” he describes how he was saved. He had a friend who used apologetics to deal with him for a few years. But he didn’t make much head way. They simply debated the merits of each other’s beliefs. However, when Qureshi began to read the Bible and believe the Bible, then the Lord dealt with him and he was saved. It wasn’t apologetics that did it; it was the scriptures.
When Jesus dealt with the two disciples who were still unwilling to believe that he had risen from the dead, he asked them a question. He asked, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Lk 24:26. That’s a great question. That’s what Peter had to deal with when he was trying to keep Jesus from suffering the cross. Thankfully, he finally understood it, 1 Pet 1:11.
Opened the scriptures – Acts 17:3 – to open is to make known or disclose. This is exactly what Jesus did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Lk 24:32. They said, “he opened to us the scriptures.” This is like what the Levites did in Neh 8:7-8. They “caused the people to understand the law… they read in the book of the law distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”
If you think about the word, “open,” it reminds you to open your New Testament and show them the verses. Let them read the verses and ask questions about what they’re reading. I had a fellow literally take the New Testament out of my hand and read each verse as I showed it to him. Open your Bible and show them what it says.
Alleged out of the scriptures – Acts 17:3 – to allege is to assert positively or to declare. This is what Barnabas did in Acts 9:27 when he brought Paul to the apostles. They were afraid of him and didn’t believe that Paul was a disciple, Acts 9:26. Once Barnabas declared the facts to them, “he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem,” Acts 9:28.
When we tell someone else about Jesus, we should allege or assert positively the facts concerning Christ’s love, his death, burial, and resurrection, his willingness to save them, and the eternal consequences in hell if they don’t. When Jesus said the he is the way, the truth, and the life, he left no room for any other Savior. He is the only one. And we cannot be shy or ashamed to tell them the truth. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel and neither should we be, Rom 1:16
Preached out of the scriptures – Acts 17:3 – to preach is to urge strongly and persistently. Preaching is gone for the most part today. This is the generation that “will not endure sound doctrine,” 2 Tim 4:3-4. They have turned “away their ears from the truth” and have heaped “to themselves teachers.” Like Paul said to Timothy, we need to “Preach the word,” 2 Tim 4:2.
I am all for passing out tracts, living with a good testimony, sowing the seed of the word of God, and praying for the lost. But at some point, you are going to have to preach. You must, as led by the Spirit of God, open your mouth and preach, “Thus saith the Lord…”. Pray and ask the Lord, “Dear Lord, help me ‘that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,’” Eph 6:19. And then make it known through preaching.
Conclusion: Here are four things Paul did out of the scriptures to lead people to Jesus. These are the same four things I hope you will do for the same purpose. Reason out of the scriptures. Open the scriptures. Allege out of the scriptures. Preach out of the scriptures. And may God bless you as you do.