Standing Firm In A Pagan World

July 3, 2015 Save Article

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Acts 17:16-18 (Program: 2456, Air date: 07.5.2015)

  1. INTRODUCTION
    1. In recent years, the Barna Group has reported that nearly two out of three American adults contend that the choice of one religious faith over another is irrelevant because they believe all religions teach the same basic lessons about life.
    2. We live in an increasingly pluralistic society where people believe that Jesus Christ is only one option among many options and that we’re called upon to accept all religions as equal.
    3. How do we as Christians respond to these challenges to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?
    4. Acts 17 depicts an episode in the life of the Apostle Paul where he stood firm in a pagan world.
      1. As he walked the streets of Athens, he saw false teachers, pagan temples, idols and a city filled with cynicism.
      2. Paul met strong resistance as he shared Jesus Christ.
      3. History is repeating itself as what happened so long ago is happening again in our society.
    5. We can learn from Acts 17 how to stand firm in our world today.
  1. WE WILL EXPERIENCE CHALLENGES TO OUR FAITH (Acts 17:16, 22)
    1. Paul experienced three challenges in Athens:
      1. Superstitious idolatry
        1. Acts 17:16, 22
        2. The people of Athens had roughly 30,000 different gods or idols that they worshipped.
          1. An idol is anything we love more, fear more, serve more or trust more than Almighty God.
          2. Whatever is first in our lives is what we worship.
          3. Matthew22:37
            1. Idolatry may be the greatest sin because it breaks the greatest commandment.
        3. We have just as many, if not more, idols in our society today.
          1. The god of materialism
            1. Ancient Athens called this god “Mammon.”
          2. The god of alcohol
            1. The ancient people called this god “Bacchus.”
          3. The god of sex
            1. This god was called “Aphrodite.”
          4. The god of violence
            1. This god was called “Mars.”
          5. The god of wisdom and knowledge
            1. This god was called “Sophia.”
        4. Matthew 6:33
        5. Romans 1:24-25
      2. Self-righteous orthodoxy
        1. Acts 17:17
        2. There were some in Athens who believed in the one true God, but they were self-satisfied and did not see their need for the Savior.
      3. Sophisticated philosophy
        1. Acts 17:18
        2. These are they who see themselves as intellectual giants.
        3. Paul encountered two types of philosophy while in Athens:
          1. Philosophy of pleasure
            1. The Epicureans were lovers of pleasure who believed that absolute truth could not be found through reason; therefore, the wisest thing is pleasure based upon your own experience.
          2. Philosophy of pride
            1. The Stoics believed that everything is God and God is everything and that humanity is self-sufficient.
  1. WE CAN EXPRESS CONFIDENCE IN OUR FAITH (Acts 17:19-21)
    1. Paul preached Jesus and His resurrection to the people of Athens.
    2. Acts 17:22-23
    3. On Mars’ Hill, Paul told the people of the one true God in the midst of a pagan society.
      1. God is the God of creative power.
        1. Acts 17:24-25
        2. God made everything and stands above and distinct from creation.
      2. God is the God of personal love.
        1. Acts 17:26-28
        2. God is a God of infinite love who loves each of us.
      3. God is the God of supernatural salvation.
        1. Acts 17:31
        2. Jesus offers us eternal salvation through His death, burial and resurrection.
        3. Paul was not ashamed to preach the resurrection of Jesus.
  1. WE SHOULD EXPECT CONVERTS TO OUR FAITH (Acts 17:32-34)
    1. The gospel has the power to change lives.
    2. Whenever we witness and invite someone to receive the Good News of Jesus Christ, we can expect one of three responses:
      1. Derision
        1. Acts 17:32
        2. Some will mock and laugh.
      2. Delay
        1. Acts 17:32
        2. Proverbs 27:1
      3. Decision
        1. Acts 17:34
        2. There is power in the gospel.
  1. CONCLUSION
    1. Without the Lord Jesus Christ, human wisdom is foolishness and religion is a mockery.

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