Acts Series #33
Back to the Beginning:
When Church was Church
Responding to a World Without Christ - PART TWO
As we begin today I have something I want to give you … Men if you would pass that out … I want you to set that aside and forget about it for a minute and I'm going to explain it at the end.
As we pick up where we left off last week, Paul has gone to Athens alone … and so as we observe him respond to a world without Christ, we see that he went …
he was …
A. Greatly Distressed - The city was full of idolatry
This happened …
B. While He Waited --- great things can happen while we wait and if we're not careful we will miss opportunities while we wait
1. into the synagogue
2. into the marketplace
It is in this mission into the Marketplace that we find our story continued
READ Acts 17:18-34
So we already said that Paul's first response was that he went … and his second response was that he …
"I find in myself desires which nothing in this earth can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world."
It's not enough just to enough just to say "BECAUSE" … when asked why people need to follow God.
A. Pre-Christian vs. Post-Christian World
1. the world of Paul's day was not so much different in ideology than today.
2. As many cultures, they had different gods for everything. A Farmer might focus and worship the Sun god and the Rain god, or the Fertility god, and a Sailor might worship the god of the sea. While the soldier the god of war.
3. how much different are we today really?
a. god of material possessions
b. god of peace in the future
c. god of prosperity
d. god of religion
e. god of power
f. god knowledge
4. Epicureans and Stoics - these two groups of philosophers wanted to discuss Paul's teachings. It has been said that Philosophers "give indiscernible answers to unsolvable questions"
a. Epicureans - everything is boils down to atoms / matter and so this life is all there is. Life is a result of the fortune of atoms coming together and when we die they disperse and life goes on without us. So, they believed that happiness in the best of things, though usually teaching balance, still happiness was all that mattered … so Enjoy Life
b. Stoics - Well if the Epicureans believed in enjoying life, the Stoics believed in Enduring Life. They believed that happiness was found in being able to be satisfied or content in the way things are. They believed in a natural order .. a life of service and being moral. They believed the universe was brought to life by the divine "logos" and every person was the slave to "logos" and they identified that logos as Zues
But if these philosophers believed in Enjoying life or Enduring Life, Paul called them through Explanation to …
B. … Enter In to Life - Explanation
Paul had observed the city and seen that it was FULL of idols to every imaginable deity … But Paul saw his opportunity when he noticed one strange altar TO AN UNKNOWN GOD and Paul said "I have GREAT NEWS for you… I'm going to tell you today the God you seek, whose name you do not know.
As we respond to a world without Christ, I've always believed that we can find the hole … find that emptiness and help them recognize that Jesus, creator, sustainer, crucified, risen, and Lord, is what they are seeking, and what they are trying to worship, they just don't know it nor do they know how.
So, Paul explains to them about the "unknown god" and ultimately the only true god
1. He Created All things - he is a Great God - The Scriptures begin … In the beginning God created the heaven's and the earth … John 1 says Jesus created ALL things and without him NOTHING has made that was made … He is a great God and our Creator …
Why is this important?
It is VERY important to proclaim Christ as Creator … If he is NOT our creator, if he was NOT here FIRST and before time, created time, created all things … then why does he have the right to be our God? Why does he have the right to direct our lives?
He is a Great Creator God
2. He is Sustainer of all Things, he is a Good God.
Not just great but good.
Paul says God determines times and seasons for life and people, and in him we live and move and have our being. He is our breath and our life. In Col 1:17 "he is before all things, and in him all things hold together" --- Some believe like the Stoics that there is a great "logos" (word) a deity that created everything but that's it, he made the clock, he wound it up but he's just letting the universe run itself and we are on our own.
But if God is NOT responsible for your next breath, for making sure that the earth maintains it's orbit and axis, for sustaining life in the universe, then why do you NEED him? Why are you beholding to him if he is not sustainer
He is a Great Creator God
He is a Good Sustainer God
3. He will Judge All things as Governing God.
V 31 - 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 all men by raising him from the dead. -
Mt 25:31-34,41 ?31? "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. ?32? All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. ?33? He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
?34? "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. ?41? "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
He is Great, he is Good, but he is Also Governing and we are accountable to him. If I am not accountable to God, why bother obeying him? Why not just live my own way?
If I will not stand before him then I am not accountable to him.
That leads us to WHY Jesus will be our Judge because he has MADE the way for our forgiveness of sins, through his death, and he conquered death through his resurrection, so if we reject his sacrifice he will then be our judge
He is a Great Creator God
He is a Good Sustainer God
He is Governing Judging God
But he does not WANT to be your Judge …
4. He is to be Worshipped as Gracious God. We have no business worshipping things that we make with our hands with our lives. Paul said you worship things made with human hands of silver and gold and you call it divine?
How can humanity make something that supercedes humanity? How can we worship something or someone that does NOT have power over life and death?
But Jesus Christ, BECAUSE, he Created, Sustains, Judges, and Offers Grace through the death and resurrection of Christ, I CAN WORSHIP him, ADORE him, LOVE him with my life because he loved me FIRST …
Rom 5:8God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love IS: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us
John 15:13A greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends
So how do we Respond to a world without Christ?
We Explain Christ
BUT DO NOT STOP THERE
If you had a cure for cancer, would you tell everyone how wonderful it was and describe how great it is and then walk away?
NO … you would offer it to the one with Cancer, you would challenge them to take it.
If you know someone who is a drug addict and you care about them you challenge them to quit it
If you know someone with any damaging behavior or habit wouldn't you challenge them to take the necessary steps to get free?
We must go
We must explain but very quickly as we close
Paul Went, Explained and …
3. Challenged v30
We cannot present the gospel and not offer them Christ and challenge them to receive him.
Look at verse 30 Paul said
In the past God over looked such ignorance, but NOW he commands all people everywhere to REPENT
The call is always to LEAVE OUR way and Follow Christ and that requires repentance, changing direction following Christ.
Paul is NOT saying that before they were NOT responsible, but he was saying that God had been patient with you and gracious to allow you this much time apart from him, will you receive him now.
Someone might ask you, "so are you saying that If I had died before this moment that I would be judged and separated from God?"
My response is "Well I am not God, but I know you are responsible for the Revelation that God has given you"
Romans 1:19-20 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them 20 for since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse
That is General Revelation and EVERYONE is Responsible before God for how God has revealed himself.
How will God work that out? I don't know, but I know God and know I can trust him.
But If you have HEARD of Christ, and been offered salvation, you have SPECIAL REVELATION and you are responsible for what you do with Jesus Christ and if you reject him, fail to repent then he becomes Judge instead of Sacrificial Substitute.
Which follows the question, "so, what will you do with Jesus Christ"?
You do not have to be ugly or rude but challenge them not to remain in
Joshua told Israel, choose you this day whom you will serve … as for me and my house we will serve the Lord
Moses said "I place before you today the choice of life or death, blessings or curses and I tell you to choose life, that you and your children may live"
Jesus looked at his disciples after a crowd had chosen to walk away and asked
"Are you going to leave me too."
We need to challenge the world to come to Christ, though the crowd may turn away …
But at that question Peter gave the right answer he looked at Christ and said
"Where else are we going to go, you have the words of life and we believe that you are the Holy One of God"
How do we respond to a world without Christ?
What will you do?
If you do have Christ as Lord, we challenge you today to receive him as YOUR Lord
If you know Christ, will you respond to a world without Christ? Well, you WILL respond, with apathy, rejection, or with urgency.
Take out what I gave you at the beginning
I read a story about a man in China who was afflicted with Cataracts that had blinded him.
He was taken to a Missionary Dr. who removed his cataracts giving him sight.
A few weeks later 48 blind men came to the doctor from the remote parts of the region. They were all holding on to a rope being led by the former blind man who had been relieved of his cataracts. He had led them walking 250 miles to the missionary hospital.
That's all I'm looking for today, some people who used to be blind telling some blind people how to get to the Dr. and receive sight.
Who's gonna pick up a rope?