Summary: Understanding that God exists and that he is the one, true God should impact how we live our lives.
First Things First #1
“There is a God” Deuteronomy 6:1-5
Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
Sometimes, no matter how much you know (or think you know) it helps to get back to the basics…
• For Israel—they were about to embark upon their greatest challenge yet; entering into and laying claim to the land of Promise. It wouldn’t be easy and neither would living there, so in Deuteronomy, God prepares them by getting back to the basics… by telling them again of the fundamentals, the first principles.
• Dt. 6-ff is where he’ll list the Ten Commandments… “God’s Top Ten Most Basic Rules” but before that, I think its interesting that he begins with a statement about himself that will forever set Israel apart from its neighbors, “The Lord your God is One!”
• In a world of polytheism—where there was a different god to worship on every corner—Israel boldly proclaimed There is ONE GOD!
Christianity through the ages has had to face some pretty tough obstacles.
• It has faced persecution from without (oppressive governments, etc.) and false teaching and corruption from within.
• Through its history, there have been those rise up from within the church who would deny the sovereignty of God, the deity of Jesus, the power of the resurrection, the nature of the church, etc.
• Through it all, faithful Christians have been helped by constantly going back to the basics to be reminded again of those core teachings of Scripture, those FIRST PRINCIPLES.
• It is those FIRST PRINCIPLES that I want us to explore in more detail over the next few weeks as we look at… “First Things First.”
• To get the most out of this study, let me suggest to you a few things…
o Make note of the listing of the coming topics.
o Read the text each week I’ll print in the bulletin.
o A study guide to go along with each lesson will be available on the web site & in my class.
o We’re going to continue the discussion in my Christianity 101 bible class… so you’re invited to come and critique the lesson.
Let’s begin this morning in Acts 17:16…
The Apostle Paul has found himself in Athens Greece. It seems everywhere he went he got himself into trouble!
• He had just spent three weeks in Thessalonica where he had been chased into hiding by an angry mob. Under the cover of night he had fled to Berea just a few miles down the road. BUT, the mob had followed him and stirred up trouble for him in there, so the brothers there help him flee to Athens- some miles to the south.
• But, while Paul is awaiting Timothy & Silas to join him in Athens, he just can’t stay out of trouble! He goes to the synagogue AND into the marketplace where he attracts the attention of all the philosophers in the city.
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) NIV
Athens was a cultural center for learning and education; for science & philosophy; art & religion. It was a University town with all the academic snobbery that goes with that.
• In that, there were a wide variety of ideas & philosophies; pluralism. It was a world where ‘everything goes’… much like our world today, it seems to me.
o Epicureans believed that either there was no god, or if there was he was so far removed from the world that he had no influence in its affairs. Agnostics or Deists of today.
o Stoics were first & foremost rationalists- they were the scientists of the day. To them REASON the highest principle. If it couldn’t be proved thru reason or the scientific method… they didn’t buy it!