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I am absolutely convinced from my own understanding of sociology. My own understanding of history that we live in one of the most exciting times in the Christian history. I want to explain to you what I mean by this, as we saw in the last message from Paul and Silas experience and the Philippian jail we saw how God always is, does his best work when there is a clear definition between truth and falsehood.
God's life always shines much brighter when the documents come up to the surface.
God always manifests his greatness on the greatness of his power among his children, and among his people. When very trust in him alone.
God's supernatural manifestations of the best expressed and best experienced by his people in the times when they themselves but him alone and that is why I say I believe with all my heart that we are living in one of the most exciting times in the Christian era, but may first summarize to you.
Chapter 17 versus 1 to 15 first 15 verses of chapter 17 of the book of acts. Paul goes to Berea first gets persecuted and opposed by the Jews, the justice of Thessalonica under do the same thing to him. He leaves Timothy and Silas in Luke the right of the author.
Another one who is writing the book of acts by this branch of the Holy Spirit, he leaves them in Thessalonica, and then he goes alone to Athens.
He goes alone to what it was known as the cultural capital of the Roman Empire would tell you a few things about Athens Athens, like so many of our cities today boasted about its rich philosophical heritage.
They boasted about the universities that have in the schools of higher education that they have in the city. Athens, like so many of our cities today boasting would always boasted about the art and the music on the literature, the Athenians lived actually on their past history they haven't done anything for the present and the future.about the time of Paul, but they lived on their past reputation of being the Empire's intellectual capital. The intellectual center of the Roman Empire and Paul lands in Athens as a tourist. Because really what they were doing. They just smuggle them out of Thessalonica because if those go to kill him. So they smuggled him out and he goes to Athens all alone as a tourist, but he ends up being the evangelists. How did he do that.
I have three things I want to share with you this morning and I pray that the Holy Spirit of God don't imprint those on your heart and imprinted on my heart that Paul's model of reacting to the idolatrous condition of his day that will be your model and my model and reacting to the idolatrous condition of our day. First of all, Paul became distressed over their idolatry. Secondly, Paul was become determined to introduce them to Jesus. And thirdly, Paul had a definitive message to the empty hearts. Paul's distress over their idolatry. What was he distressed, beloved friend, I want to tell you something if you know Jesus Christ. And if you are in deep appreciation of the grace of God and the favor of God and the mercy of God that snatched you out of the jaws of maternal death and damnation.
You should be. And if you're not there something wrong with you. You should be distressed over the condition of the unsaved. Paul's reaction should be our reaction when we come face-to-face with ignorance of the truth. Paul's action should be our reaction when we see our societies smothered with idolatry. Look at verse 16 of chapter 17 of the book of acts.
The Bible said that Paul was greatly distressed. In fact, probably some other translation said Paul was provoked by grief and indignation. Paul was distressed at the fact that men and women who are created in God's own image that men and women who were created to glorify God. Men and women who were created to honor God and bring honor to his name.
Instead, they were honoring statues and idols that are made hand.
Recently I was repulsed when I was watching a documentary on television when I saw a man on the northwest of the United States was showing the camera how he worships his God and he went to a little closet in his living room and he opened and there was a tiny little statute to put his hands together and he bowed to that statute. Then I said to myself why am I distressed about this is the only idolatry is that that is the primitive idolatry. No I now begin to think of how many sophisticated idols surrounding us in this very culture in this very city, how we are right now living in the midst of sophisticated idols. One is a liability to listen carefully because I want to explain to you some more things about that an idol is a God substitute. That's an idol. It doesn't matter what it is. What is primitive or sophisticated any God substitute in the life of an individual is an idol that has to go. An idol is any person or anything that occupies the place that belongs to God alone and idol can be the pursuit of wealth for wealth sake and idol can be political ideology and idol can be uncontrollable appetite for sex for drugs for alcohol and idol can be a person of husband or wife a child of the father, mother, and idol.
P that endless recreation and endless desire for pleasure seeking and idol can be work for work's sake and work for achievement, sake and idol can be at church and idol can be religion and idol can be even a Christian service and idol can be television and idol can be support and idol can be a leisure.
Anything that takes God's place is an idol missing.
From a relatively the city of Jerusalem, city of Jerusalem did not have the idols that the city of Athens had the Lord Jesus Christ comes up on the Mount of olives and he looks down upon the city and he was equally distressed and he begins to weep over Jerusalem. So what a minute, but Jerusalem had no idol old yes the idols were worse than those in Athens because the idols of Jerusalem were false religion. The idols of Jerusalem were false rituals.
The idols of Jerusalem where people were going to charge I'm speaking to God with their lips, but the harmful thought away from him. That's why Jesus wept. And that is why Paul was distressed to tell you something, beloved friends until you and I become distressed over sin in our society. God will not move until you and I become provoked by italic training in all its forms until you and I are broken over the idyllic trick with all its forms until you and I are able to weep over idolatry in all its forms until you are not can inwardly be indignant over idolatry in all its forms until you and I become grief stricken over idolatry in skirts of Jesus Christ who denies that salvation is through Jesus alone until you are not become a poured by those who claim to be Christians, and yet they deny the very heart of the gospel until you I are inwardly wounded by the apathy of the Christian community until you are na´ve come to the point in our lives of doing that we will not understand acts 1716 that Paul was greatly distressed is a problem in America today, most churches are playing churches (churches in the praying churches there, but here an hour ahead of time on their faces before God, praying for worship. That's what would've happened, we would see the further great awakening that we are longing for one of the great things about the apostle Paul. He did not allow distress to lead him into discouragement did not allow being distressed was sin and idolatry to lead him into despair.
He did not allow his distress over idolatry to lead him into depression. He did not allow it to lead him into a sense of hopelessness. No. Which brings me to the second point, Paul distress made him determined to introduce them to Jesus with thirtysomething if you ever have a sense of distress over the condition in which we live is going to lead you either to hopelessness or is going to motivate you to do something about the situation, our sense of distress must motivate us to lovingly confront people with the gospel. Or we will become indifferent and would become apathetic. Our sense of inward provocation Muslim leaders to lovingly invite men and women to have an encounter with the living God, or else we will be discouraged and become unfruitful and effective for God, our sense of indignation must bring us under the conviction that these men and women are so desperate for what you know what I know, but Paul understood. Paul understood that in a culture where conflicting philosophies and conflicting thoughts that are fighting that are at war for our minds and the minds of our children for our hearts and the hearts of our children that these conflicting philosophies that are fighting is no time for the Christian to retreat is no time to say well I don't have anything to offer. I don't know how to get into that war.
I can't do anything about it. No no no no in Athens Greece in the time of Paul.
There were many conflicting philosophical schools. The two dominant ones where the Epicureans and the storks the Epicureans and the storks actually called Paul a bubbler not a bubbler in this kind of context means that is a person who does not have an original thought. Now they thought this is an insult. Paul took that as a compliment.
He was not proclaiming himself is proclaiming Jesus.
Sure enough, he doesn't have an original thought. The Epicurean philosophy was established by Epicureans 342 and 270 BC and he lived at the same time as the founder of the storks on when it comes about in a minute.
What is the Epicurean start well. The Epicurean start that indulgence is the key to life. They taught that pleasure is the highest good. The Epicurean profess to believe in the gods but then they immediately gone inside the because I'm not really interested in mankind. The Epicureans taught that pleasure and the pleasure that is most worthy of pursuing was a lie of tranquility alive that is free from passion and pain and above all free from the fear of death and then they go on to teach that there is no life after death. When you die, it's all over the storks on the other hand almost had an opposite kind of philosophical approach to life. The storks were opposite to the Epicureans, this philosophical school established by a man named Zina who came from Cyprus and lived in Greece he lived in 342, 260 BC, give or take. In fact, Epicureans and zero. Both were contemporaries the storks with fatalistic there were pantheistic, the storks taught that God was the world's soul in the world was God's body at its past stoicism was marked with moral earnestness, but all it was marred with spiritual pride to the storks virtue was the supreme good man they said should live above passion. People should be unmoved by agreeing joy or pain or pleasure. I do not make a good stork. Some of you do. I don't that pass me by a friend. This was a key to life. They said apathy was the storks locked in life. No wonder they call Paul about the no wonder both the Epicureans and the storks there were aghast at the thought that the God who created the world became a man and then he hung on the cross and died to pay for the sins of people who believe in him and then he rose from the dead, in order that he comes back one day. The judge all of humanity that were aghast that this preaching, but Paul was determined to introduce them to Jesus and therefore he preached a definitive message to their empty hearts. Please listen to me carefully. The reason men and women anywhere do not believe worship and obey the true God is because they do not want to know believe and worship the true God's choice.
God made himself known in so many ways, but people reverently and consciously reject him and they don't want to believe in him is the true God. I want to illustrate what I mean here.
Look at American society. More than 90% of the population claim to believe in God but if you go up to one of those people and you say to them, God will judge you and you will stand before his judgment seat one day, probably 60% of them is all know that this God let this go.
If you would go to them and say that anyone who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven as the only Savior and Lord. And if you reject them you going to spend eternity in torment, he got to spend eternity in pain to spend eternity in your grant you got to spend eternity and damnation all know that God we don't want to judge mental God. They wanted God that they design is sick so that he is design the way they wanted. They wanted God that they can fashion the way they one infection him and you are just like you have a designer jeans and get a designer God says that is the world you have a of a such a God or you have a Calvin Klein God.
That's our culture today and Paul's message was in effect though you rejected the God revealed himself in his creation and chosen instead to worship the creatures and worship other gods to hearts are empty and you are discontented with your God's though you refused to worship the creator. And yet you continue to worship his creatures and his creation though you try to fill your minds on your heart, with all source of philosophical thought about God and yet you have a God shaped vacuum in your life that only the creator God can feel that is why Paul goes on to say, that's the reason why there will be no excuse in the day of judgment. Nobody can ever stand in the day of judgment say God you give me a raw deal. No one no one listen carefully.
Please, the sun worshiper will be asked on the day of judgment. Why did you reject the creator of the sun, the pleasure seeker will be asked on the day of judgment.
Why did you not worship the one who created all pleasures for us, those who worship at the shrine of science and technology will be asked on the day of judgment. Why did you do not worship the God placed all knowledge on earth for our enjoyment at our convenience and for our blessing. There is no excuse for anyone on the day of judgment, says the apostle Paul and Paul's message begins with the creator God and ends with calling them to repent of the sin of rejecting God.
Paul's message begins with the creator of life, the sustainer of life, the rule of life, and he ends up with a rightful demand by that creator to be worshiped alone. Paul's message begins with the owner of all creation and ends up with the owners rightful demand for response from those whom he made those whom he created and those will be sustained.
Paul's message is this that all idolatry, whether it is primitive or sophisticated all idolatry. Whether it is mental or mental all idolatry, whether material or imaginary all forms of idolatry inexcusable by God. There one of the biggest idolatry of our day is the trying of to minimize the goals between the creator and his creation, minimizing the golf between the creator and the creatures so that we can bring you under our control. But the truth is this beloved friends, listen carefully, modern-day idolatry that says that we are gods with a small G will be severely judged by God. Modern-day idolatry that says that God is in us all and we all in God will be severely judged on the day of judgment.
The Abyssinians have acknowledged that in having that inscription in the altar that says to the unknown God never acknowledge their ignorance of the true God and here the apostle Paul had just provided them with the evidence ignorance. Look at verse 30 of acts 17 verse 30 is what Paul said. Ignorance is no excuse that the use of translation that's exactly what it means. Ignorance is no excuse for God, never, never left himself without a witness but it is in his mercy, God is giving them a second chance. It is in his mercy that is giving them another opportunity to repent and ask for his forgiveness is in his mercy that is going to withhold judgment little longer in order to give them one more time to repent and seek his forgiveness. I am so glad he gave me a chance.
But not only that, Paul said God provided proof that the day of judgment is coming and that the judge is going to be no other than Jesus Christ, and their greatest proof was to raise him from the dead after three days in the tomb, Paul is saying the resurrection is God's ultimate proof.
The judgment is coming up on the living and the dead.
Everyone of us to face the judgment of God may be someone here today who said I thought all religions are the same. I thought all roads lead to heaven. I thought all things are just equal in today. I heard there's only one way to God with the listening bar radio watch about television.
You're been confused by all the idolatry in our culture and all the philosophical mumbo-jumbo in our culture and you been ignoring the Lord of life is calling you today to surrender to him to repent of your sins and receive his forgiveness.
Psalm not bad yes you are.
If you lied once you deserve hell so the Bible said, but there is a way out. God said through Jesus, I cannot only forgive you, but I assure you of eternal life. I'm going to tell you this true story number to conclude the year was 360 A.D. Julian was enthroned as the Emperor of Rome. Julian was the nephew of Constantine the great.
You remember Constantine the great who Christianize the Roman Empire will Christianize the Roman world, but his nephew Julian when he came to power he sought to reverse what his uncle did. He brought back pagan worship and he began to persecute Christians he withdrew from Christians the protection that his uncle Constantine had given them. That is why he was called the apostatized Emperor. Sometimes you hear me say the word apostate apostate is a person who has come to the truth is seen the truth and maybe even walked in the truth for a little while and then turned their back on the truth it was called the apostate Emperor Julian not only openly persecuted Christians.
Not only that, he withdrew the protection that was given to them by Constantine here literally made the life hell on earth.
He was trained and educated in Athens and there inherent school in Athens where he was trained he was studying alongside a Christian man, a committed Christian by the name of adjutant. This part of his hatred toward Christians, and the persecution of Christians. He liked adjutant and he brought him into the court to work for him to work with him in his court. But Julian frequently frequently made fun of his Christian friend frequently put him down frequently teased him and then one day in front of a very large crowd of wealthy Roman citizen.
He began to poke fun at his Christian friend adjutant this is Agatha. How is your Carpenter of Nazareth is he finding work these days I get in who could not take it anymore. They said to him, he is perhaps taking time away from building mansions for the faithful to build you a coffin Emperor was courage less than two years later, on June 26, 366 A.D. Julian was dying with a purging arrow in his heart he attempted to go retake the ancient Persian Empire effect dying Julian grass, a handful of dust right with his own blood he flown the nest heavenward and hear all the mess east to Galilee. You have conquered Galilean. The Roman Empire has long since crumbled in the dust of history, but the Emperor of the Galilean moons on the Bible said that God desires not for anyone to die in their sin, but that they turn from their wickedness and live he would be rather building a mansion in the sky for you.
The new building an internal coffin for yourself when you respond to him if you want to be assured of eternal life and not the eternal judgment. You can do that today. God, I thank you that we have done nothing to deserve your grace, you did it all and you handed to us as a gift. All God I pray that today many will respond to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, receive his forgiveness walk with him in his power. Father I pray that anyone who was into the idolatry of religion, idolatry of rituals. Idolatry of denominations. They will surrender that to and that their walk with you.
The only hope the only Savior, the only Lord a new name I pray, amen. Thanks for listening to this message from Dr. Michael. You sat recently featured on leading the way. If you'd like to know more about us, please visit LTW.org that's LTW.Ward