Faithlife Sermons

Philosophy of Christianity

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As Christians, sometimes we swing between two extremes: hedonism and moralism. Now, we'd never consider ourselves hedonists, but aren't we often more than willing to pursue our own comfort, satisfaction, and pleasure and forget about God for a while? And then when we come back to our religious "senses," we become moralists - focused on making sure our behavior (and maybe even others' behavior) conforms to some outward standard of righteousness.

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Background

Paul had been all around Asia minor preaching in Synagogues. Mostly speaking about the Messiah to people who were looking for the Messiah. So he had a relevant message.
What kind of message is relevant to the world around us today?
Our society today is much more like Athens than Jerusalem.

Paul’s MO

First the Jews (check)
Second devout people (check)
Third whoever is in the market - tries to find a way to make Christ relevant to them!

Epicurians

Hedonists

This belief was expressed in a desire to seek contentment and satisfaction and to avoid pain and discomfort.

Stoics

Moralists, pantheists, fatalists, proud of their moral place in the world
God? More of a god-force in everything

Stoicism contended that the physical universe is empowered by a reasoning force known as logos, which connects the divine with the material. Ethically, stoics attempted to live in accordance with the natural laws they observed and systematized.

vs. 21 - Doing nothing else but telling or hearing some new thing!

Whence? - Origin - Creator God
What? - Nature - We are His Offspring!
Whither? - The End - There is a Judgment
The Teacher’s Commentary 121: Acts 16–19—The Gentile Church

“recognizes the philosophical cast of mind of his audience and presents his message understandably to them in terms of the three great questions of philosophy: ‘Whence,’ ‘What,’ and ‘Whither’; or otherwise stated, ‘the origin,’ ‘the nature,’ and ‘the end of all things’ ” (Carter and Earle, The Acts of the Apostles, Zondervan). In his exposition Paul quoted, not from Scripture but from Greek religious poetry!

A Personal God

A relationship
Henri Nouwen, “Making All Things New”
Boredom, resentment, and depression are all sentiments of disconnectedness. They present life to us as a broken connection. They give us a sense of not-belonging. In interpersonal relations, this disconnectedness is experienced as loneliness. When we are lonely we perceive ourselves as isolated individuals surrounded, perhaps, by many people, but not really part of any supporting or nurturing community. Loneliness is without doubt one of the most widespread diseases of our time… It is even visible in the diminishing interaction between people on the streets. Out of all this pervading loneliness many cry, “Is there anyone who really cares? Is there anyone who can take away my inner sense of isolation? Is there anyone with whom I can feel at home?”
Hedonism, materialism leads to emptiness.
Moralism, pride of sufficiency leads to emptiness.
“Christianity isn’t simply about a particular way of being religious. It isn’t about a particular system for how to be saved here or hereafter. It isn’t simply a different way of holiness. Christianity is about Jesus Christ.” - NT Wright, Paul: The Prison Letters
NT Wright, Paul: The Prison Letters
NT Wright, Paul: The Prison Letters “Christianity isn’t simply about a particular way of being religious. It isn’t about a particular system for how to be saved here or hereafter. It isn’t simply a different way of holiness. Christianity is about Jesus Christ.”
There is a center!
Only connection, relationship, solves this problem. We are God’s offspring. In him we live and move and have our being. This is not some force. This is a relationship with a person - Jesus Christ.
Not a force, not idols, not pleasure or things or pride or morals...
Paul presents JESUS. A Person.
He created us.
He redeemed us.
He judges us.
He raises us to new life.
It is the relationship with the person that saves us. It is not empty moralism.

One Blood

Education Paul, Joyful in Service

See Paul at Athens before the council of the Areopagus, as he meets science with science, logic with logic, and philosophy with philosophy. Mark how, with the tact born of divine love, he points to Jehovah as “the Unknown God,” whom his hearers have ignorantly worshiped; and in words quoted from a poet of their own he pictures Him as a Father whose children they are. Hear him, in that age of caste, when the rights of man as man were wholly unrecognized, as he sets forth the great truth of human brotherhood, declaring that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Then he shows how, through all the dealings of God with man, runs like a thread of gold His purpose of grace and mercy. He “hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.” Acts 17:23, 26, 27.

Hear him, in that age of caste, when the rights of man as man were wholly unrecognized, as he sets forth the great truth of human brotherhood, declaring that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.”
Then he shows how, through all the dealings of God with man, runs like a thread of gold His purpose of grace and mercy. He “hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us.”

Success?

The Teacher’s Commentary 121: Acts 16–19—The Gentile Church

The author speaks of fitting the methods used to present the Gospel to the patterns of communication that are present in a society. Have your group members evaluate: which of the following approaches does not “fit” today’s world as an effective method in evangelizing?

1. Passing out tracts on a street.

2. Holding revival meetings in a church building.

3. Putting evangelistic sermons on TV.

4. Holding a debate on a college campus.

5. Busing children to Sunday School.

6. Sponsoring a Divorce Recovery Workshop in the community.

7. Holding Bible studies in homes.

8. Doing house-to-house visitation.

9. Plastering your car with “Jesus saves” bumper stickers.

10. Organizing a mayor’s prayer breakfast.

Discuss each, giving reasons why it does or does not fit contemporary culture. For each which does not fit, ask your group members to suggest alternatives.

Then share: “What was the most important influence in each group member’s own conversion? How was the Gospel presented to him or her? What conclusions can be drawn, if any, about how to best communicate the Gospel in our modern world?”

Never Goes Out of Style

But there is a core to the message that will never go out of style:
God wants a relationship with us.
Jesus came so we could have a personal relationship with God!
Seeing all and serving all.
We are all children of God.
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