Challenges to the Cross

March 11, 2015 Save Article

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Acts 17:16-31 (Program 2013DVD, Airing on 7/10 & 7/17)

  1. INTRODUCTION
    1. In this passage of Scripture, we find the apostle Paul in the city of Athens, Greece.
    2. Paul is grieved because of the wickedness in that city, including idolatry.
      1. Historians have claimed that Athens had more than 30,000 gods.
      2. The city even included an altar to the “Unknown God”, whom Paul would declare to the people.
    3. Paul faced three challenges in the city of Athens that we still face today in our modern cities.
  2. THE CHALLENGE OF SUPERSTITIOUS IDOLATRY (Acts 17:16, 22)
    1. What is an idol?
      1. Anything you love more, fear more, serve more, and trust more than Almighty God.
      2. Whatever is in first place in your life is your god.
    2. Matthew 6:33
    3. The greatest sin we can commit is the sin of idolatry.
      1. Matthew 22:37-38
    4. In Romans 1, Paul explains that we love the creature and the creation more than we love the Creator.
  3. THE CHALLENGE OF STIFF-NECKED BIGOTRY (Acts 17:17)
    1. Paul faced opposition from many self-righteous persons in Athens.
      1. The people in Athens had religion, but they did not have Jesus.
  4. THE CHALLENGE OF SOPHISTICATED PHILOSOPHY (Acts 17:18-20)
    1. Philosophy is the love of wisdom.
      1. There were two particular types of philosophers who encountered Paul in Athens:
        1. Epicureans seekers of pleasure. They did not believe in a personal God; they believed that this life is basically all there is, so grab all the pleasure you can.
        2. Stoics full of pride; they prided themselves on being above it all and self-sufficient.
    2. Philosophy is not the answer to the world’s problems.
      1. Greece was the intellectual center of that day, and philosophy could not save the nation.
  5. PAUL’S MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE OF ATHENS (Acts 17:19-31)
    1. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    2. In the midst of the philosophical and cultural center of that day, on Mars Hill where the judges and philosophers sat, Paul declared to the people the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    3. How did Paul describe God?
      1. He is the God of infinite power who has made everything and therefore stands above and distinct from all of creation. (Acts 17:24-25)
      2. He is the God of infinite love who made us and made us to know Him and to worship Him. (Acts 17:26-28)
      3. He is the God of infinite purity and absolute righteousness who demands that all men everywhere repent. (Acts 17:30)
        1. Luke 13:3
      4. He is the God of eternal salvation who raised Jesus from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
        1. 2 Corinthians 5:21

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