Summary: This message looks at obeying Scripture by being both separate from the world and yet being all things to all men in order to win some.
DISTINCT AND ALL
“Using The World To Our Advantage”
Acts 17:21, 1 Thess. 5:21
Acts 17:21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
1 Thes. 5:21 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
INTRODUCTION: Scripture speaks of instances where we as a believer are tested. In fact, Scripture declares that as believers we will be tested. 1 Cor. 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, “
The first of these verses speaks to the fact that we will never be given more than we are able to accomplish, and the second verse tells us that we will indeed get these types of things.
With a little thought, I have been able to come up with three purposes for a test. The first is for the mastery of material – Kids and Bible Memory would be an example of this. The second is for proficiency in order to advance – A driver’s exam would be a fitting illustration. And third, the quality of a product. Though this is a negative example – one I would not want to see any of you doing, drug dealers are always concerned about the Quality of their product.
THREE KEY PASSAGES
1 Thes. 5:21, says to, “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
We are encouraged, no commanded to test EVERYTHING and to hold onto what is good!
Far too often, as believers we have reacted to our world. We have carried the mantra of 2 Cor. 6:17, "Therefore come out from them
and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
We have done this without a clear understanding of what this really means!
We need to reconcile this with the call of Scripture to also,
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Cor. 9:22
There is a way to interact with our world AND maintain our distinctiveness as believers in Christ!
The Scripture gives us tremendous insight into doing JUST that through the life of Paul as recorded in Acts 17
First We Need To:
I LOOK AT THE SITUATION
A Athens was a community of the cutting edge of “societal evolution”! – 17:21
1 Athens was driven by entertainment – ultimately this would result in the creation of the Gladiators.
2 This would probably have been akin to our “talk shoe” mentality and reality show addiction
B A Community keenly aware of when there was something new. – 17:18-19
C A Community searching for some sort of “spiritual identity”. – 17:16
1 So many idols and temples
2 Paul was in the commercial center of Athens – the AGORA.
3 The center was full of monuments and would become so crowded with them that Rome would be forced to finance the building of a NEW Agora
4 Temples to Kybele, Ares, Apollos, Athena, as well as many others were located here.
a gods were guilty of lying, murder, pillage, and rape
b Temples were vile, immoral, and pornographic
II PAUL’S REACTION TO HIS SURROUNDINGS
A Paul is GREATLY distressed – 17:16 – He was distressed to the point that he was driven to do something.
1 Athens was an idolatrous society driven by a quest for knowledge and an appetite for entertainment
2 Today we have a society driven by entertainment
a Most powerful figures in American are those associated with entertainment
b Our society is SERIOUS about entertainment
c In most countries heroes make history, in our country heroes make movies!
Robert Hutchins, the former chancellor of the University of Chicago said this, “It is not so important to be serious as it is to be serious about the important things. The monkey wears an expression of seriousness which would do credit to any college student, but the monkey is serious because he itches.”
B Paul “carefully examined” his surroundings – 17:23
1 Paul walked around
2 Paul looked around
C Paul “RESPONDED” to his surroundings – 17:19-22
1 Paul accepts the offer of the people
2 Paul responds to what he sees
a He did not run
b He did not hide
c He did respond
HERE LIES THE KEY – HERE IS WHERE PAUL MELTS TOGETHER THE TWO CALLS OF SCRIPTURE – TO BE SEPARATE AND TO BE ALL THINGS.
III TURING THE SEARCH TO THE SAVIOR – 17:16-17,22-34