Sunday, October 7, 2012

From Acts to Revelation Part 47 – Athens



From Acts to Revelation
Part 47 – Athens
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION
Last week we saw in scripture, Paul preached to the Berean's, and how they were ready to receive Paul's message of Jesus Christ, because they searched the Word of God daily, and it prepared their hearts to receive the Truth of God.

In Berea, we saw the greatest number of Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah, and this was directly related to the fact that they studied the Word daily.

Again, as in other cities and towns, Paul was hunted, and had to leave.

Paul traveled to Athens, where he sent word back to Silas and Timothy to come and be with him there. But while he awaited them, he did not sit idly by. He continued to do what he always did, share the message of the Cross and salvation.

In today's message, we will learn the following;

1)     How to live in a world, surrounded by sin
2)     How to build bridges, so that others may meet Christ
3)     finally, how to stay true to God in a sinful world, while reaching out to others, bringing them to the Lord, instead of attacking, offending, and pushing them away.


SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

Acts 17:16-34
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.



I.       PAUL DID NOT IDLY WAIT FOR SILAS AND TIMOTHY
a.      Paul was greatly distressed to see the city full of idols
i.       Paul is sensitive to sin

ii.    Paul is driven to do something about that sin

iii. Paul addresses the CAUSE of the SIN, NOT THE SIN!

iv.   The cause, is the need for Christ


b.     Paul taught and preached Christ to the people
i.       First in the Synagogue to the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks (Gentiles)

ii.    Then in the marketplace to ALL there, day by day

iii. What message did he preach?
a.      Jesus and the Resurrection


c.      Epicurean and Stoic Philosophers
i.       Heard Paul, and began a debate, because that's what they do in Athens
a.      This was a simple debate, not an attack, like we've seen in previous scriptures

ii.    Some of them were confused

iii. Other understood a little

iv.   So they brought him to Areopagus to discuss it more
a.      There is no mention here that Paul was arrested, or taken against his will.



II.    AREOPAGUS - ATHEN'S SUPREME COURT
a.      All of the Athenians who lived there, spent their time doing nothing but talking and listening to the latest ideas
i.       Like the local beatnik cafe'


b.     Paul begins by affirming the Athenians religion
i.       He does not open with an attack on their faith or beliefs, rather, an acknowledgement of it

ii.    In doing this, he is showing a common ground

iii. and, he does not offend them, or attack them, which would just shut their ears to the Truth!


c.      Paul states the following about their religion;
i.       that he looked carefully at their objects of worship

ii.    that there was a statue to the "unknown God"
iii. Then Paul says, "I see you worship a God you do not know, so let me introduce you to Him!"


d.     REMEMBER
i.       They do not believe in GOD

ii.    They do not know God

iii. They did NOT build this statue to Him!

iv.   Paul is simply using this COMMON GROUNDS of religion and faith, as well as the fact that there just happened to be a statue with no name in Athens, to BUILD A BRIDGE for the Athenians to come from where they are in their understanding, to where they need to be, in relationship with GOD!

e.      Paul explains "who" this God is in Acts 17: 24-31



III. THE RESPONSE TO PAULS MESSAGE OF CHRIST
a.      Some sneered...what's new?

b.     Some wanted to hear more! Praise God!

c.      Paul left the council, and some of the people became follower of Paul and believed!



CONCLUSION
In today's message, we will learn the following;

1.      How to live in a world, surrounded by sin

Paul addresses the SIN in the proper manner, by tackling the CAUSE...NOT THE SIN!


2.      How to build bridges, so that others may meet Christ

Paul uses COMMON GROUND between himself and the sinners, to build a bridge to Christ



3.      Finally, how to stay true to God in a sinful world, while reaching out to others, bringing them to the Lord, instead of attacking, offending, and pushing them away.

Paul taught the TRUTH of scripture, WITHOUT attacking the sinner, or offending the sinner, thus drawing them into the understanding of Christ, rather than pushing them away from God.





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