AF-S119-042306 Acts 17
Alêtheia Christian Fellowship
Acts 17:16-18 ~ 16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17He went to the synagogue to debate with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. 18He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “This babbler has picked up some strange ideas.” Others said, “He’s pushing some foreign religion.”
19Then they took him to the Council of Philosophers. “Come and tell us more about this new religion,” they said. 20“You are saying some rather startling 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.)
22So Paul, standing before the Council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious, 23for as I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it—‘To an Unknown God.’ You have been worshiping him without knowing who he is, and now I wish to tell you about him.
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, 25and 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 there is. 26From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27“His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28For in him we live and move and have our being. As one of your own poets says, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 30God overlooked people’s former ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone everywhere to turn away from idols and turn to him. 31For 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.”
32When they heard Paul speak of the resurrection of a person who had been dead, some laughed, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Council, a woman named Damaris, and others.
13But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. 15Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.
The gospel is a double-edged sword.
1- mercy, grace, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life
2- overturns values, attitudes, and lifestyles, and threatens the self-interest of unbelievers (individually) and their culture (corporately).
Peter, Paul and the Lord Himself said much of the certainty of opposition and persecution.
1- Paul evidences an urgency based upon the conviction that men are sinners, desperately lost, and destined for eternal punishment.
2- Paul had an urgency to preserve the purity of the gospel
3- Paul had an urgency of the shortness of time.
Paul’s days were numbered, and he knew it. Thus he sought to make the most of every moment, every opportunity.
God’s plan for Israel and for the world was on a time schedule. The deadline for Israel’s acceptance of Messiah 70 A.D., Israel went into a holding pattern and the “times of the Gentiles” began.
We desperately lack the sense of urgency which characterized Christ and the apostles.
Classes in methods do not make up for a lack in motivation. Indeed, when the motivation is present, we will find the methods to do what is important.
One of the most popular and prominent methods of evangelism today is that of “friendship evangelism.” Many Christians gravitate to this method as a cover-up for a lack of urgency, and as the pretext for obeying God when, in truth, we’re not. I can go by, week after week, assuring myself that I will share the gospel with my neighbor “when the right time comes” or “when I have built a better relationship.” Laid back evangelism can be a symptom of a lack of urgency, and this, my friend, is a most serious ailment. The Laodicean church was “laid back,” too (cf. Revelation 3:15).