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Four Questions About Christ's Commission

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Four Questions About Christ's Commission
Acts 17:16–34
Acts 17:16–34 NLT
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. 18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.” 19 Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20 “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21 (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.) 22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
INTRODUCTION:

I- WHY DO WE OBEY CHRIST'S COMMISSION?

A- Because we are moved into action by the clear need.

(Acts 17:16 )
Acts 17:16 NLT
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city.

B- Because we have a clear mandate from the Lord.

(Matthew 28:18–20 )
Matthew 28:18–20 NLT
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

C- Because the love of Christ motivates us to share his message.

(2 Corinthians 5:14) " For the love of Christ compels us..."

II- HOW DO WE OBEY CHRIST'S COMMISSION?

A- By speaking with whomever will listen.

Acts 17:17 (NLT)
Acts 17:17 NLT
17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.

B- By presenting a clear message to those who listen.

(Acts 17:22–31)
Acts 17:22–31 NLT
22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”

III- WHO DO WE ENGAGE WITH CHRIST'S COMMISSION?

A- People who hold different and unbiblical beliefs.

(Acts 17:18)
Acts 17:18 NLT
18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”

B- People who hear, but do not accept our message.

(Acts 17:19–21)
Acts 17:19–21 NLT
19 Then they took him to the high council of the city. “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20 “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21 (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)

IV- HOW DO WE MEASURE SUCCESS IN OBEYING CHRIST'S COMMISSION?

Acts 17:32–34
Acts 17:32–34 NLT
32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

A- The reactions of those who reject the message is not the indicator of success or failure.

1- Some reacted negatively to Paul's witness.
a- Some laughed at him.
b- Some put off making a commitment to follow Christ.
2- Jesus warned his disciples that not everyone would respond positively.
a- Parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23)
Matthew 13:18–23 NLT
18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
1.) Some fail to understand the message
2.) Some entertain a surface belief without commitment
3.) Some allow a worldly focus, life's worries or the pursuit of wealth to keep them from following Christ.
4.) Some follow Jesus wholeheartedly.

B- The responses of those who receive the message is indication of success.

1-Was Paul’s ministry at Athens a failure?
a- There is no record of a church being founded in Athens.
1) There were individual disciples made at Athens:
a) Dionysius, a member of the council
b) Damaris, a woman converted in Athens
c) Other people who believed during Paul's work in Athens
b- If no church was begun in Athens, the failure was not in Paul’s message or method but in the hardness of the Athenians’ hearts.[1]
1) Jesus' primary command for us is to make disciples.
"... Therefore, go and make disciples..."(Matthew 28:19)
2) It is Jesus' responsibility to build his church.
(Matthew 16:16–18 (NLT)
Matthew 16:16–18 NLT
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
* Ultimately we are successful if we fully obey Christ's commission. The results are His responsibility!
CONCLUSION:
A- Now What?
1- Will you choose to remain faithful in sowing the seeds of the Gospel, trusting God for the future harvest?
2- Will you remind yourself that God judges success by the criteria of faithfulness?
[1] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 404.
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