Summary: America is no longer “culturally Christian”, thus we are living in a mission field.
Living in the Mission Field
Introduction: Today is Our Celebration of Missions Sunday
Latin: Missio - one sent off (same root as missile); has come to be associated with those who seek to take the Gospel to different cultures.
America is no longer “culturally Christian” (which is good and bad), thus we are living in a mission field.
Last night, I has a discussion about Short Term Missions Trips.
They have value in exposing people to other cultures and to people who are desperate for the Gospel.
But we do not have to board a plane and fly thousands of miles to find a culture in need of the Gospel; we are living in one right now.
America is a mission field: How are you engaging it?
+ Paul is on his second missionary journey, and he has been taken to Athens (v.15).
He is alone, and persecuted; some say this is a low point in his ministry; but this is the man who said, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
+ Paul, while waiting on the arrival of Silas and Timothy, begins sharing his faith (v.16-21).
Epicureans - believed the chief end of man was pleasure and happiness
Stoics - believed that thinking should be above feeling and sought to suppress their desires and show no emotional response to pain or pleasure.
Areopagus - Also known as Mars Hill, this was the place where the Areopagus Court would meet and discuss civil, criminal and religious matters.
+ Paul begins his presentation of the Gospel (v.22-28)
Very Religious - deisidai÷mwn (deidoœ to fear, and daimoœn deity)
Unknown God - ∆Agnw¿stwˆ qewˆ◊.
Illustration: Setting the Goats Free - Terrible plague, Epimenides set goats free and wherever they lay were assigned shrines to “unknown gods”.
God who made everything - a direct attack against Epicureans who believed matter is eternal and the Stoics who believed God is in everything (pantheism).
Quotes Greek Poets: Epimenides and Aratus
+ Paul addresses the sin of the Athenians: Idolatry (v.29)
PRIMARY TEXT: ACTS 17:30-31
I. God has held back His righteous judgment for a time
“Overlook” does not mean that the people before this time escaped judgment
Romans 2:12-16 “sin without law perish without law”
It means that the people were not judged immediately as was deserved; the fact that the world still exists is testament to the fact that God is holding back His judgment.
Acts 14:16 “All nations went their own way”
Romans 3:25 “Passed over former sins”
Consider This: On the individual scale, no sin had been overlooked. Those who have died in their sins have been sent to torment awaiting the lake of fire like the rich man in Luke 16. But, on the grand scale sin has not yet been fully punished. On the grand scale judgment has not yet come. It has been overlooked, but it will not be forever.
Revelation 20:11-15 “Death and hades gave up their dead”
II. God has commanded repentance of the whole world
God does not suggest, or request our repentance - He commands it.
Objection: ”God invites men to salvation."
In regard to the invitation, we need to understand that the Bible does include invitations to sinners but that does not negate the command that the Bible gives to sinners.
When I invite my son to come to me and he refuses he is in disobedience.
The difference between invitation and command: There is no consequence for ignoring an invitation.
Illustration: Evangelist Said “You have a right to repent or not”
NO! You don’t. You have the ability not to repent, but your do not have the right.
Lack of repentance is rebellion!
Furthermore, you have the ability not to repent; but because of your moral depravity you do not have the ability to repent.
You are commanded to repent, but your sinful will keeps you from it.
Repentance is not something we are capable of in and of ourselves.
Jeremiah 13:23 “Ethiopian skin…”
Romans 8:7 “Cannot submit to God’s Law”
So God is commanding something which is impossible for us.
QUESTION: Is God unjust to commands what we cannot do? NO.
The Bible often records times where there are commands to do things that people aren't able to do:
You are incapable of keeping all Ten Commandments, yet it is a command (Ex. 20)
You are commanded to love the Lord with all your heart, yet you can’t (Matt 22:37)
Jesus commanded a man with a withered hand to stretch out his hand (Mk 3:5)
Jesus commands a man paralyzed to rise and take his bed and walk (Mk 2:11)
Jesus commands a dead Lazarus to come out of the tomb (John 11:43)
Jesus commands Christians to be perfect as your Father is perfect (Matt 5:48)