Sunday, July 20, 2014

Encouragement in Evangelism (Acts 17.16-34)

Scripture: Acts 17.16-34
Translation: 17.16Then while Paul was waiting on them [Silas and Timothy], his spirit was burning in him from anger, because he was looking at the city that was full of idols. 17So then, he was debating in the synagogues with the Jews and with the [non-Jewish] worshippers and in the market each and every day with the random people who were there. 18But also some of the of the Epicurean and the Stoic philosophers were discussing [things] with him. And some were saying, “What could this pop-philosopher possibly want to say?” and others “he seems to be a spokesman for strange spirits” (because he was telling the good news of Jesus and the resurrection). 19And grabbing him, they brought [him] to the Hill of Ares/Areopagus, saying “Can we know what this new teaching being spoken by you is? 20because you brought some surprising things to our ears. So we want to know what these things want to happen.” 21And all the Athenians and the visitors who were staying there had time for nothing else except either speaking or hearing about the latest thing.
22And Paul stood up in the middle of the Hill of Ares/Areopagus and was saying, “Men! Athenians! I see how in every way you are more/very superstitious/religious. 23Because when I was passing through and looking up at the things your worship, I found an altar too, on which had written “To an Unknown God.” So, about what you’re worshiping even though you don’t know who it is, I’m going to speak to you about this. 24The God, The One Who made the world and all the things in it, This One Who really is Lord over the heaven and the earth doesn’t live in handmade temples. 25He isn’t served by human hands because He needs anything. He is the [God] Who gives life and breath and all things to all things.
26And He made from one man every nation of humans to live on the whole face of the earth, arranging the truly specified times and borderlines of where they live. 27so they could look for God, then if they might possibly really feel around for Him, they might just find [Him], and Who in fact really isn’t far away from each one of us. 28Afterall, in Him we’re living and moving and existing, just like some of the poets that belong to you really have been saying, “because we too are his children.”
29So, because we really are God’s children, we shouldn’t think what is divine to be like gold or silver or stone, in the image of manufacture and invention of a human.
30So, on the one hand, although God overlooked the times of ignorance, during the present times He commands all human beings everywhere to repent/change their thinking, 31given that He appointed a day on which He is about to judge the world with righteousness, by a Man Who He arranged, holding out faith to all people [as a viable option] by resurrecting Him from the dead.”
32And as soon as they heard “resurrection from the dead,” some were mocking, but others said, “We will hear from you about this again too.” 33In this way, Paul left from the middle of them. 34And some men attached themselves to him and believed, among whom were both Dionysius the Statesman/Areopagite and a woman by the name of Damaris, and others with them.

1.      Structure
a.       Intro
                                                              i.      Setting
                                                            ii.      Teaching Jews and Gentile Yahweh-worshippers in the Synagogue
                                                          iii.      Teaching passersby in the market
                                                          iv.      Philosophers take interest in Paul’s message
b.      Message
                                                              i.      Building Rapport
                                                            ii.      God as Creator and Lord of all (Aseity and Transcendence)
                                                          iii.      God as Relational (Immanent)
                                                          iv.      Summary: This God is Different
                                                            v.      Implication: God as Judge, (demands a response)
c.       Response
                                                              i.      Rejection
                                                            ii.      Interest
                                                          iii.      Acceptance
2.      Themes
a.       Idolatry
b.      Boldness
c.       Who God is
d.      God is the Creator
e.       God is Sovereign
f.       God is different
g.      Call to repentance
h.      Jesus
i.        Resurrection
j.        Response
                                                              i.      Positive
                                                            ii.      Negative
k.      (Contextualization)
3.      Doctrines
a.       God is the Creator
b.      God is the Judge, via Jesus
c.       Jesus rose from the dead
d.      God is in total control of everything
e.       God is drawing all people all over the world to Him all the time
f.       Even though God has positioned Himself to be found, not all will accept the Gospel
g.      Christians take the Gospel and explain it in ways people can understand

1.      Outline
a.       Encouragement
                                                              i.      Who God is and What He does
1.      God is working and set up this whole world to save people
a.       This is great news because it means that God put your friends in your school, in your class, in your social circles, in your lives right now, because He was going to use their circumstances to draw them to Him
b.      This means you have friends and people that you know totally prepared to hear and respond to God—God has done the hard part, even with people who don’t respond God has
2.      God wants to save people
a.       He is even close to them, because He is omnipresent, which means that no one needs to worry about whether someone is too far away from God to be saved, because essentially they are already surrounded by Him, He’s right there
3.      God is in control
                                                            ii.      Paul got the same kinds of responses that we do
1.      Flat out rejection
a.       If you have this happen, it’s ok. You didn’t fail. You were successful. This is just what happens sometimes. God doesn’t blame you, unless of course you were a total jerk
2.      Interest, but not conversion
a.       Sometimes even when you give a clear explanation or summons to respond, some people will still need more time to think about it, to get to know you better, to look into it more deeply
b.      This is actually a great sign, it won’t always mean that person will one day get saved, but it does mean that the person has God working on them, and they are close
3.      Repentance and faith
a.       This is awesome, and sometimes this is the more rare response, but then other times it’s the main response, and ultimately it is God’s hands, but if you share the good news, sooner or later you will see this happen, and there is not much like it
                                                          iii.      There is no right way, per se
1.      There are key things to say, but no set way to say them
2.      No right or wrong places to share the good news
3.      No right or wrong people to share the good news with
4.      No requirement that everyone converts
5.      You don’t even have to be able to finish the whole message
b.      Method
                                                              i.      Key Elements to Cover
1.      There is One True God, who created the universe
2.      God is Sovereign, in control of all, the King over all
3.      All people are ultimately dependant on Him
a.       We often don’t like this fact, but at the end of the day we not it is try
4.      God wants a relationship with humans, and has taken the initiative
5.      God commands repentance and faith
a.       This always is the summons of God to people, this is what we call people to do, to believe the good news, and change their mindset and lifestyle
b.      This is what we always want to get to
6.      God will judge all people via Jesus, who He raised from the dead
a.       I know this is not going to be a popular part of the message, although it is funny to note that what offends people is different in different cultures, they got offended at resurrection, but we get offended at judgment
                                                            ii.      Adapt the form to who you’re talking to
1.      Build rapport/common ground
2.      Talk in terms they understand
3.      Use common ground to your advantage
4.      Don’t shy away from the truth, even if you know they aren’t going to like it
                                                          iii.      Take the opportunities God gives you
2.      Questions
a.       Talk about the unique place God has placed you and how you think He may use that to reach people with the good news through you
b.      What kinds of responses have you gotten or do you think you might get if you share the good news with others? Does it help to know that even Paul experienced similar reactions when he shared the good news?
c.       What are the core parts of the good news? And what parts do you think your friends and family, our culture will like hearing and not like hearing?
d.      Do you think there is a right way and a wrong way to share the Gospel, what do they look like?
e.       Did God give you any opportunities to share the Gospel this past week? Did you remember to pray and ask for opportunities? If you did have an opportunity, did you take it? Why or why not?

f.       If you were going to tell someone the good news, what parts or words do you think would be hard for them to understand? How could explain it to them?

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