Summary: We should not be surprised that the gospel is opposed. We’d like to think that everyone will just accept this wonderful news, but that is not the case. Let’s look at the faces of that opposition.
Passage: Acts 17:1-33
Intro: One of the recurring themes of Acts is opposition.
1. mostly from the Jews, but others as well.
2. it was as well as recurring theme in the life of ministry of Christ.
3. we can draw this principle; that where the gospel goes, opposition will arise in one form or another.
4. some forms are very obvious, even violent.
5. others are more genteel, more sophisticated.
Il) the erudite religious academic on TV trying not to laugh as he debunks the faith of God’s people.
6. we are going to look today at three faces of the opposition that Paul faced.
7. and we will find present day examples of each one.
8. and as we look, we will see the appropriate response God calls us to have.
I. The Face of Popular Religion
1. having left Philippi, Paul and his entourage traveled SW for 100 miles along the via Egnatia and arrived in Thessalonica.
2. it was the largest city in Macedonia, the capital, perhaps as many as 200,000 people, with a large group of Jews.
3. and as was Paul’s habit, he went directly to the synagogue and began to preach to the Jews.
4. notice the nature of his message.
5. his reasoning was directly to the point:
In spite of His rejection by the Jewish leaders, Jesus of Nazareth was the Sent One, the Messiah promised by God.
6. and furthermore, the OT clearly taught that the Messiah would not be at first a reigning king, but in fact a suffering servant who would die
7. this proclamation, of course, flew in the face of popular Jewish faith.
8. it is clear in the gospel that the Jews who witnessed Jesus’ miracles were excited about him for the wrong reasons
Il) free food, power to heal and raise the dead meant he could overthrow the Roman occupiers.
PP) John 6:14-15
9. this was the Messiah that people wanted.
10. and the Jewish leaders had passed sentence on Jesus, having Him executed by the Romans.
11. Paul’s teaching said just the opposite, and in doing so challenged the belief of the Jews.
12. he asked them to admit three things:
-we killed our Messiah
-our leaders are blind guides and false teachers.
-the law has been fulfilled by faith in this one that our leaders rejected.
13. and then the coup de grace, Paul offered salvation to the Gentiles when the Jews rejected it.
14. they had their position, and they were sticking to it in spite of the Biblical evidence that showed they were wrong.
15. the opposition to the gospel that in our day comes from within the Christian religion begins with the rejection of Biblical authority. Here’s a quote:
Il) “The Scriptures do not need us to defend them. Rather, we need to ‘read, mark, lean and inwardly digest them’, as Luther instructed, so that our words and lives proclaim Christ. The fundamentalist approach sidetracks the meaning of the Scriptures, arguing that the bible is inerrant in the fields of history, geography, and nature.”
16. those who laugh at us for believing the Bible, confessing Jesus as Lord, in spite of the Da Vinci Code and the Gospel of Judas.
II. The Face of 3rd Party Hostility
1. driven out of Thessalonica, they traveled 50 miles to Berea.
2. again they went to the synagogue, but the situation was different.
3. these people went to their source for truth to check out the message. V11
4. and they found it consistent with Scripture, and so believed.
5. I wonder if Paul was tempted to ditch the Gentile ministry and stay with this group of believing Jews.
6. but watch now, because the presence of faith attracts opposition from others.
7. why did the Jews of Thessalonica care what the Jews of Berea believed?
8. v13, their opposition to Paul knew no bounds, because they were driven by Satan himself.
9. we might think that a person will not care what another, non-related person, believes.
10. but as we proclaim the truth of God, we can be sure that Satan will stir up opposition to us, because he hates the truth.
11. the charges he throws at us false, because he is a liar.
12. vv6-7, same lame charges, designed to cast doubt on the message and the messengers.
13. we need to recognize the power source behind the opposition, and pray against Satan and his lies while we proclaim the truth.
14. Satan is always at work, even in the church, to oppose the truth and spread lies.
III. The Face of Worldly Wisdom
1. after being hustled out of Berea, Paul and his escorts made a 200 mile sea journey to Athens.
2. v 16 indicates he was just waiting for the others, but he was troubled by the blatant idolatry of the city