Burden for Lost Souls – Acts 17:13-34

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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I once heard a story about a Christian woman who was burdened for the soul of her drunken, abusive husband. He would not listen to the gospel and had no use for church. However, he did agree she could invite an evangelist for dinner. As she set the table, she only set two plates, one for her husband and one for their guest. When her husband commented on this, she replied, “I am too burdened to eat. How can I eat when I know any breath might be your last and that if you die you’ll go to hell?” Then she said, “I shall not eat any more food until the day you come to Christ as your Savior.” Initially, her husband responded with ridicule, but he soon became broken over his sins and trusted in the Lord Jesus.

As Paul stood alone in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him, “…his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16). At this time, Athens was the most celebrated city in Greece and the cultural capital of the world. It was renown for arts, architecture, poetry, and philosophy, but it was also known for its abundance of idol worship. For all of their intellectual advances, they were utterly pagan. Historians believe this city contained more than 3,000 public idols, plus thousands of smaller idols in homes. When Paul stood looking at the bustling masses and cultural wealth, his soul was “stirred” (meaning to be moved, grieved, or burdened), for their spiritually-lost condition. This motivated him to take action. He spoke in the synagogues and “…with the devout persons…in the market daily…” (vs. 17). When given an opportunity, he spoke publicly on Mars Hill, explaining the Athenians were ignorantly worshipping every supposed god. He urged them to turn in genuine faith to the only true God, the “Lord of heaven and earth” (vs. 24), who created the world, and would one day judge the world. This judge was the Lord Jesus Christ, who had risen from the dead.

What we need to learn from this account is that Paul possessed what he called a “great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart” over lost souls (Romans 9:2). How long has it been since we were truly burdened for a lost soul, prayed or wept for them, or shared with them the message of God’s love? Today, may our callousness be replaced by a burden for souls.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."