Summary: The sermon is designed to get the church to take advantage of the discussions about the Da Vinci Code to tell others the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Acts 17:16-18 - Opportunities: The Da Vinci Code
West Glendale Baptist Church
Pastor Don Jones
16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So 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. 18A 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.
On May 19th, theaters will be filled with people eager to see the Da Vinci Code. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, it is sure to be a blockbuster for the summer. It is already a best seller, with sales of the book at over 10 million. Debates are raging in the print media as well as prime time news. Thrust to the forefront is the debate about the truth of the gospel, life of Jesus Christ and the truth that Christianity has centered on for almost 2000 years.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is looking to believe something, even if that something is based on lies. Someone has said we live in a mushroom society: we love to live in the dark and we grow best when living in large amounts of manure. The Da Vinci Code provides both. It is a well written fiction that many are claiming to be the "real" truth concerning Jesus. Believe it or not, this is nothing new.
Cue slide: It’s nothing new.
The twisting of the truth of the gospel is really nothing new. In the 1st century the apostles dealt with several perversions concerning Jesus and salvation. One of the most common was the Judaizers. They proclaimed that not only must a person believe and trust in the person of Jesus Christ but a person was to follow all Jewish laws including circumcision. Ouch! They were a very popular sect since many early believers were Jewish.
Another popular group of the first century was the Gnostics. They derive their name from the Greek word "gnosis", meaning knowledge. They believed that through a series of steps or rituals, you would obtain secret knowledge which would lead to your salvation.
It almost seems that people of the first century were unwilling to believe in a savior who would die for them. They obviously couldn’t or wouldn’t believe it was that simple. Again, remember..."mushroom" society. Fortunately Paul made it simple to understand when he wrote Ephesians 2: 8-9.
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith¡Xand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God¡X9not by works, so that no one can boast.
Our salvation has nothing to do with us but has everything to do with the work of Jesus on the cross. Religions, all of them, tell you what you must do to be saved. They will give you a list of rules, do’s and don’t, to follow in order to be "right" with God. Christianity says it has already been done by Jesus. It is all about grace not works. Christianity says its all about opening you life and heart to Jesus and through his work on the cross, you will be saved. At the end of the service you will have an opportunity to receive Him as Lord of your life.
Cue slide: Ostrich, Monk, or Opportunity (Witness)
So what are we to do with this latest assault on the gospel? We really only have three responses. One is the Ostrich; the other, the monk, and finally the other, seize the opportunity.
Cue slide: Ostrich
We can try to ignore the controversy. We can accept that we know the truth about the gospel (and we do), and like the ostrich, we can bury our head in the sand; One of the fastest creatures on the planet and when it gets scared it stop, places its head in the dirt and waits for the danger to pass. There is even an animal that hides by putting its head under the surface of water. Unfortunately, it sometimes is so scared it doesn’t come up for air and dies while trying to hide. It’s simple, effective, and requires little effort. Unfortunately, not only is this stupid by even our standards but it isn’t even remotely scriptural.
Another effective way to deal with the debate is to cloister yourself with fellow believers.
Cue slide: Monk
During the "dark ages" monks would build huge monastery compounds to house those that believe the same. Today, we have churches that can perform the same function. If we are unwilling to engage others, except at church, if we are unwilling to mix with anyone who has a different opinion, if we refuse to get involved, then again we are allowing those we work and live with to die in ignorance. Too many churches, maybe even our own, has fallen into the "monk" mentality instead of obeying scripture. Jesus said in Acts 1:8,