This is the last Part of “Unknown God!” Like some of you, I grew up in church. I know there is an OT and a NT. I know there are 66 books of the Bible. I know about the northern and southern tribes of Israel. I know there were major and minor prophets. I know Elisha did exactly twice as many miracles as Elijah. I know the stories of Peter, John, Nicodemus, Zacheus, Titus, and two guys named Hymenaeus and Alexander were “handed over to Satan by Paul!” I know I’m a sinner who needs a Savior!!
I KNOW JESUS personally, and as HE is REVEALED in all 66 books of the Bible!
- In Genesis, He is the Creator God.
- In Exodus, He is the Redeemer.
- In Leviticus, He is your sanctification.
- In Numbers, He is your guide.
- In Deuteronomy, He is your teacher.
- In Joshua, He is the mighty conqueror.
- In Judges, He gives victory over enemies.
- In Ruth, He is your kinsman, your lover, your redeemer.
- In I Samuel, He is the root of Jesse.
- In 2 Samuel, He is the Son of David.
- In 1 Kings and 2 Kings, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
- In 1st and 2nd Chronicles, He is your intercessor and High Priest.
- In Ezra, He is your temple, your house of worship.
- In Nehemiah, He is your mighty wall, protecting you from your enemies.
- In Esther, He stands in the gap to deliver you from your enemies.
- In Job, He is the arbitrator who not only understands your struggles, but has the power to do something about them.
- In Psalms, He is your song–and your reason to sing.
- In Proverbs, He is your wisdom, helping you make sense of life and live it successfully.
- In Ecclesiastes, He is your purpose, delivering you from vanity.
- In the Song of Solomon, He is your lover, your Rose of Sharon.
- In Isaiah, He is the mighty counselor, the prince of peace, the everlasting father, and more. He’s everything you need.
- In Jeremiah, He is your balm of Gilead, the soothing salve for your sin-sick soul.
- In Lamentations, He is the ever-faithful one upon whom you can depend.
- In Ezekiel, He is your wheel in the middle of a wheel–the one who assures that dry, dead bones will come alive again.
- In Daniel, He is the ancient of days, the ever- lasting God who never runs out of time.
- In Hosea, He is your faithful lover, always beckoning you to come back–even when you have abandoned Him.
- In Joel, He is your refuge, keeping you safe in times of trouble.
- In Amos, He is the husbandman, the one you can depend on to stay by your side.
- In Obadiah, He is Lord of the Kingdom.
- In Jonah, He is your salvation, bringing you back within His will.
- In Micah, He is judge of the nation.
- In Nahum, He is the jealous God.
- In Habakkuk, He is the Holy One.
- In Zephaniah, He is the witness.
- In Haggai, He overthrows the enemies.
- In Zechariah, He is Lord of Hosts.
- In Malachi, He is the messenger of the covenant.
- In Matthew, He is king of the Jews.
- In Mark, He is the servant.
- In Luke, He is the Son of Man, feeling what you feel.
- In John, He is the Son of God.
- In Acts, He is Savior of the world.
- In Romans, He is the righteousness of God.
- In I Corinthians, He is the rock that followed Israel.
- In II Corinthians, He the triumphant one, giving victory.
- In Galatians, He is your liberty; He sets you free.
- In Ephesians, He is head of the Church.
- In Philippians, He is your joy.
- In Colossians, He is your completeness.
- In I Thessalonians, He is your hope.
- In II Thessalonians, He is your glory.
- In I Timothy, He is your faith.
- In II Timothy, He is your stability.
- In Titus He is your reason for serving.
- In Philemon, He is your benefactor.
- In Hebrews, He is your perfection.
- In James, He is the power behind your faith.
- In I Peter, He is your example.
- In II Peter, He is your purity.
- In I John, He is your life.
- In II John, He is your pattern.
- In III John, He is your motivation.
- In Jude, He is the foundation of your faith.
- In Revelation, He is your coming King.
I know Jesus and I hope you do too! But we have a culture that does not know him! There are a lot of opinions out there about Jesus, about the Gospel, about truth… that you are a sinner, you need salvation, and Jesus alone can save you!
KEY- The idea of “sin” and “repentance”- Jesus being the “Way, the Truth, and the Life” is considered narrow-minded, bigoted, intolerant, and insensitive in a culture with little to no moral bearing. And so people have all kinds of reactions and responses to those of us who proclaim Jesus Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords!
But it’s not unprecedented! The culture of the Book of Acts, especially that of the Greeks and Romans was much like ours today. As Paul engaged this culture as recorded in Acts 17, there’s little doubt that he had already established substance and credibility with them- since on most occasions, Paul spent “time” and did “life” with people in the areas he was reaching. We see too how he dealt with the reactions and responses that people have to the Gospel. Hopefully this can help us to better engage people and make Jesus known to them.
Acts 17:30-34 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Let’s unpack this so we have a better understanding of why you hesitate to tell others about God in your life- your relationship with Jesus; and why people react the way they do in our culture today…
First, the TRUTH causes a lot of “TENSION” in our world today!
Paul says, “Hey, here’s the bottom line, here’s the truth, God says everyone is a sinner, you need to repent, and turn your life over to him! And oh, God is the final Judge and he has the final say, and all that rides on what Jesus has done- died for your sins and rose from the dead so you’d have a way to be saved from the consequences of not obeying God!”
And yep, today in our culture, people are going to have a tough time acknowledging that! The truth creates tension; especially when you have a world that says there is no such thing as absolute truth. To which I like to reply, “Are you absolutely sure?” Supreme Court ruling on marriage etc. The “Supreme” God!
People suppress the knowledge of the truth- we all do it. Why? So we can avoid the tension it causes us. The tension of knowing we are not living right, doing right, treating others right. The tension of accepting that we are sinning and disobeying God’s moral code and that there are consequences. But if we can suppress all of that, if we can avoid it and try to convince ourselves there is no absolute truth, then perhaps we can just keep living like we are…
Until, we run smack into “truth” again! And we start to feel the tension… The solution? REPENT- Everyone needs to repent of sin! And everyone can because- Jesus was raised from the dead!
Paul doesn’t avoid the tension, he knows that we all have to deal with it. And even though it may not be politically correct, it may not be convenient or comfortable, “knowing the truth will set you free” ultimately (Jn. 8:32)! How do we deal with this tension in our own lives? In our own family situations? Friends, etc.??
But just like in Paul’s setting on Mar’s Hill, there are three primary responses people can have to the tension that truth causes; as you live it and tell it:
There are the “MOCKERS!” (“…some laughed in contempt”)
Have you ever been made fun of? Ridiculed? Laughed at? Had someone make you feel like a complete idiot for something you said? And they’re not doing it in a “teasing” way; they’re “mocking” you!
When Paul began to share about how everyone needs salvation and Jesus alone is the solution, “some laughed in contempt!” They were indicating that this wasn’t even worth their consideration; it was beneath them as they considered themselves superior in knowledge. They were mockers!
Prov. 21:24 says, “Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance.”
The word for “proud” here means to “boil up, seethe.” Just like water comes to a boil and overflows, the mocker oversteps his boundaries because of his presumptions. With pompous arrogance a mocker scorns and shoots down anything that challenges their own self-righteousness; which is, in Jesus‘ words, “like a foolish man who built his house on the sand…” (Mt. 7:26).
A “mocker” scorns the Gospel because they lack substance and exalt self! You’ll never insult nor debate a “mocker” into the Kingdom of God, let alone be able to truly have an intelligent, civil conversation with them about God.
The key in dealing with those who would mock the Gospel and your life in Christ is to always be compassionate, never compromise truth, keep a clear conscious, and Love them and let them go! Paul spends no time trying to convince the mockers, nor should we.
But then there are the“TALKERS!” (…others said, “We want to hear more about this later.”)
I’m convinced that more people would love to have a conversation about God and church and Jesus and salvation and purpose in life than we give our culture credit for! Especially when our culture IS so spiritual and so many ARE spiritual seekers.
The problem is, we convince ourselves that because they don’t go to church or have a crystal hanging from their rear view mirror or a political affiliation sticker on their bumper that is not our own, they have zero interest in knowing more about Jesus!
The fact is, very few will mock the Gospel, but there are many, the vast majority who truly need and want to see a real representation of Jesus Christ- loving, serving, giving; as well as providing them with honest hope and purpose in this life and the one to come!
When Jesus is on display in our attitudes and actions it is very intriguing and attractive to people! We see it in the Gospels with Jesus himself. We see it in Paul’s life in this passage, and I’ve certainly experienced it myself… and so have you.
I’ve mentioned my friends Denny and Dave… Questions and conversation. I sat with a couple recently in their home and we had a amazing conversation as they explored Jesus…
1 Peter 3:15-16 “And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.” Note that- “gentle, respectful…” Be sensitive to where they are spiritually. Respect their questions, etc.
KEY- Why? Because a“talker” needs time to digest and discuss the Gospel! Some said to Paul, “Can we continue this conversation? Can you meet us later? This is interesting, this seems to have some substance, this may be what we’ve been searching for…”
The KEY is to connect and converse! Who is it that keeps asking you questions? How can you keep the conversation going? Most people in our culture today are in this category- they want to talk to someone who has earned their trust about God!
Finally, there are the “WALKERS!” (“…some joined him and became believers”)
(v. 34) “Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Here’s at least two people who immediately made the decision to follow Christ! Certainly the Holy Spirit was working in their life in that moment, but most likely too, they had been in a desperate state for a while, they were open, diligently seeking, perhaps even had heard of this “Jesus” and now all the dots were being connected!
They were ready and willing to walk with Christ! People like this are what the Bible calls “white unto harvest” (Mt. 9). In other words, their ripe, ready, and just like you know when fruit, like as banana is ripe, you see the indicators of their readiness.
Some of those indicators are: They’re going through a challenging time in life. They’ve exhausted their spiritual search. They drop every hint possible for you to invite them to church! They’re sincerely confide in you. They tell you they started reading the Bible! In Paul’s case, they had most likely been associated with Paul already in some context or another. Again, Paul doesn’t roll into town in a tour bus to do a crusade! He’s living and doing life with people, in the marketplace, homes, etc.
They’ve already heard about Jesus and now he’s truly made known to them!
John 1:35-37 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.
Pointing Jesus out to people through our own representation as well as revealing him through other contexts, becomes the catalyst to cause them to follow him!
A “walker” – a follower, has put their confidence in Christ! It’s Peter proclaiming, after many others were unwilling to make a full commitment to Christ and Jesus asking him if he was going to leave too, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn. 6:68-69).
People decide to walk with God when they’re convinced Jesus alone is the answer! Let’s have the substance and credibility to convince them!
Close: Where are you today? Are you convinced of Christ?? Do you know a mocker? Do you know some people who you need to respectfully and gently keep having the conversation with?
Let’s pray and ask God to help us know how to engage people that really don’t know Jesus and perhaps see them want to at least talk about it; if not want to start walking with God too!