April 13, 2014

Series | Someone to Believe In

Passage | Acts 17:1-34

Speaker | Dr. Hance Dilbeck

Pastor's Notes:

Intro: Next Sunday is Easter --- We declare and celebrate the 
Resurrection of Jesus.
• Begin meditating on the Significance of Resurrection. Consider what our lives would be like without it!

1 Corinthians 15: 17-19 (Read slowly using “Died” for asleep)

ILL – I thought of this text while listening to the radio Monday.
NPR… Fresh Air with Terry Gross
• the obligatory smart people don’t believe in Jesus Easter show… UNC professor of religion who used to be Bible thumper like me, but now he knows better… Agnostic… Jesus is not God; and His resurrection never happened!
• Transcript… Sad conclusion… wrapping up; having successfully demonstrated their superior intellect.
• As an Agnostic, what does Easter mean to you?
There is horrible injustice and oppression in the 
World… and we should say no to them.
• No power, No Forgiveness, No Hope… What a Pity!

This week, you will be proclaiming the Resurrection to a culture that resembles the first Century more and more every day. Let’s read a story from the Book of Acts that prepares to share the Good News of Resurrection. Acts 17

“We are evolving as a culture” --- looks a lot like the culture in which the church was planted and prospered. The epicenter of that culture was the city of Athens --- 400 years past her prime political influence; but still the cultural and intellectual center of the world! Only 5,000 citizens, but packed with smart people from all over the world.

Paul had to flee Berea and found himself in Athens… He preached to the elites… He proclaimed the Resurrection (mentioned 3 times)… As if he stood in Harvard Square today!

ILL – “Raise your Lips at me” == sneer, mock, laugh…
Set the Stage; Read a Summary of his Sermon; Consider the Response

Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens. (few weeks)
• The city was packed with Idols…Statures like forests… his spirit was provoked…..Anger!
• Speaking against the idolatry and preaching Jesus in the synagogue and in the marketplace (Agora)
• Epicureans and Stoics were listening and belittling… making sure all knew he was not as smart as them. 
• Liked to hear and debate new ideas so they took him to the Areopagus… hill of Ares (the god of war) Mars Hill. The Areopagus was both a hill and a court…
Paul preaches to the cultural and intellectual elite!

Acts 17: 22 – 34 (Read with Comments)

Vs. 22 – “Religious” was a neutral word… gradually negative…

Vs. 23 – “Unknown God” = “Agnosto Theo”
There great fear of the intellectual is to be wrong.
So they prefer to keep all their options open

Vs, 24a Start with Creator!

Vs. 30 - Paul builds a bridge, but moves quickly to confront them
You didn’t create God; He created you.
He does not need you; You need Him.
You don’t control God; He controls you.
He is not accountable to you; you are to Him
You don’t determine Truth; He Reveals it.
God will not line up for you; 
You better Line up with Him --- REPENT!

t/s – Paul in increasingly bold; and the elites are listening; until …

Vs. 31 – Jesus is the Judge (John 5)… all are accountable to Him.
Proof of His stature is the Resurrection!
Vs. 32-34 – Response to Resurrection
Let’s declare the Resurrection this week…
• With Neighbors; Family Easter Eggs; at Work/School
• I celebrate Easter because I believe that Jesus Christ is Risen! Risen, --- He is Lord; He give me New Life!

Responses to the Resurrection (The new responses; same as the old)

Some people will be Biased (32a)
“Bias” = Slanted… Some people have a philosophy, a worldview
Slanted against the idea of Resurrection!
• Epicureans = No spiritual reality; only the Material world.
• Stoics = No Personal God; No use for a bodily resurrection

Emotional; Intellectual; Personal slant… Will not consider it!
They might make a face at you!!

ILL – I declared my faith in Jesus as Lord in meeting last week
One Man’s response… “Humh” (raise his lip)

Other People will be Busy (32b-33)
Exp – This may be real interest; or, a polite dismissal… wither way;
They had more important things on their minds that day.
So Paul left! He never returned.

More amazing than the aggressive rejection of the Gospel
Is the casual, passive dismissal…

ILL – Julie when the boys were talking… “Un humh… that’s nice”

App – Jesus died on the Cross for your sins; and God raised Him up.
You might chose to Reject this as crazy talk; but please don’t brush it off just because you’re busy.

Some Will Believe (34)
“Joined him” = glue = Public Identification; and “Believed” Personal
• I imagine Dionysius considering Jesus… Risen Lord
• He had everything to lose --- Respect, standing, friends
• He took His stand with Paul as a Follower of Jesus!