Athens: Facing Questions Acts 17:16-19, 22-31 Aug. 03, 2008
If you become a Christian hermit you might avoid questions about your faith, but if you are interested in ministry; questions will come. It seems Paul actually desired to stir up questions so he could be a more effective witness for the Lord. I personally like sharing with people about Jesus. It seems to me people will become a more effective witnesses as they interact with others about the Lord. They will ask questions and as you search for answers you will grow in your ability to face and answer questions.
1. The . . Anticipation Of Facing Questions. 17:16-19
A. Paul's . . Waiting Developed Anticipated Questions.
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that
the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with those who worshiped
God, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.
B. Paul's . . Witness Developed Anticipated Questions.
18 Then also, some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers argued with him. Some said, "What is this
pseudo-intellectual trying to say?" Others replied, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign deities"-- because
he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 They took him and brought him to the
Areopagus, and said, "May we learn about this new teaching you're speaking of?
Several sources say Athens had
more idols than any other ancient city. As Paul waited for Silas and
Timothy the Holy Spirit stirred him to think about how he could preach
Jesus to these religious, but lost people. He used every opportunity he
could to reason with the people about their need for the Savior. He
went to the synagogue and the market place to reason with them about
Jesus and the resurrection. As he spoke
with these people his ability to witness developed. He got criticized,
and no doubt mocked, but that just
motivated him to speak of Jesus even more.
2. The . . Areopagus And The Facing Of Questions. 17:22-29
A. Paul's . . Standing And The Facing Of Questions. 17:22
22 Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that you are
extremely religious in every respect.
B. Paul's . . Strategy And The Facing Of Questions. 17:23-29
1. A Strategy Using The . . Basic Unknown. 17:23a
23 For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar
on which was inscribed: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD
2. A Strategy Using The . . Basic Known.
Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the
world and everything in it--He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands.
25 Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives
everyone life and breath and all things. 26 From one man He has made every nation of men to live all
over the earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live, 27 so
that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from
each one of us.
3. A Strategy Using The . . Basic
28 For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For
we are also His offspring.' 29 Being God's offspring, then, we shouldn't think that the divine nature is
like gold or silver or stone, an image fashioned by human art and imagination.
Paul stood up in the midst of the Areopagus. He wanted to be seen and heard by all. His presence and message aroused questions, and his preparation and direction by the Spirt gave him the confident boldness he needed. God led him with a strategy to take advantage of the so called, "unknown god." The people of Athens believed in so many different gods that the leaders created a law that there could be no other gods. However someone thought they might actually offend a god they did not know about so they erected a statute to the "unknown god," Doesn't ignorance such as this motivate you to want to share, about God? Paul used this ignorance as an opportunity to tell them about the One True God, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. The . . Appointed Man And The Facing Of Questions. 17:30-31
A. The . . Command Related To The Appointed Man. 17:30
30 "Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere
B. The . . Confirmation Related To The Appointed Man. 17:31
31 because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He
has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead." HCSB
Who is this appointed man of
whom I speak? Jesus of course! God has appointed Him to be the standard
of righteousness by which all humans will be judged. In the Book of Matthew Jesus told us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. That is impossible unless our sins are forgiven and the righteousness of Jesus is transferred to us. How does God prove or confirm Jesus as His appointed Man? He causes Him to be resurrected, and only He can give proof like that. With such an excellent message and messenger Paul demonstrates to all of us the kind of lifestyle we can develop as we share what we know about Jesus, and what we are learning about Him. Amen? Amen!