INTRO: Not all great sermons result in great response. I have an idea that most preachers from Stephen to the present - would agree that the best human effort in preaching often produces no visibleresults. In the city of Athens the apostle Paul had what most of us would consider a great opportunity to speak to an impressive group of people. These were the intellectual and philosophical giants of the day. And they were pagan in religious belief.
I. HE COMMENDED THEIR BEING RELIGIOUS
A. Acts 17:22,23a ... you are very religious ... (NCV)
1. these were not evil people!
2. they were bright people to whom gospel had not come
B. They had altars devoted to many gods
1. the ancient world said the Athenians were the most religious people of all the Greeks!
2. not to offend the unknown god, an omnibus altar
II. BUT HE PREACHED TO THEM OF GOD - NOT GODS
A. Religion in ignorance is not true religion!
1. so, Acts 17:23b
2. are people better off in ignorance? No!
B. The God Who made everything - Acts 17:24a
1. Ex 8:10 - There is none like Him
2. throughout the ages men have worshiped gods - gods of their making ... and some have even thought themselves to be god
3. so, Paul began with the fact of God
C. The God Who needs nothing - Acts 17:24b-26
1. of course, Greeks had ornate temples, altars
2. physical beauty was emphasized - Ps 29:2!
3. since all is His, He needs nothing - Ps 50:9-12
D. The God Who wants relationshipwith man - Acts 17:26-28
1. a great contrast with impersonal, capricious gods of the pagan world ... aloof, uncaring
2. Jno 3:16 is a great contrast to what theyd known
3. seek the Lord ... He can be found!
III. HE SPOKE OF REPENTANCE
A. Acts 17;30 ... now commandeth ... to repent
1. Jehovah God is no regional deity ... all men
2. Jehovah God is not like puny idols which are truly powerless ... He can command
3. no longer can people take comfort in ignorance!
B. Note Lk 24:46-48
1. the message of the gospel was/is to be published
2. and every living soul is responsible to receive it, to conform to it ... yes, Athenians, too
3. 2 Pet 3:9 this is the sound of desire ... not of anger or harshness
C. Repentance: the new mind ... is it difficult?
1. change of mind, when ideas, etc. are long established is not easy
2. but if those things are incorrect, the change is absolutely necessary if one is to be in relationship with God
3. relationship with God is established and maintained on Gods terms ... so, 1 Pet 1:14-16!
IV. HE SPOKE OF JUDGMENT
A. So, here is accountability
1. have we turned? have we obeyed? have we been faithful? important questions
2. for we must meet Him there - Eccl 12:13,14
B. The assurance of judgment? the risen Jesus!
1. the resurrection fact validates everything
2. but note v.32 ... weve heard enough
CLOSE: So, he preached this memorable, great sermon, and there was little positive response. Still, the response (while I hope for it) is the choice of the hearer. And what has been your response to the gospel message?
Cecil A. Hutson
19 December 1999
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)