The Gospel VS The Latest

The Gospel VS The Latest

Deacon Chengji - 2 October 2021

The Gospel VS The Latest

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Our obsession with the latest and the new
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.)”

 

Why is it a problem?

1)     Distraction

Athens during Paul’s visit

·       Why led him there to proclaim the gospel?

·       What did he preach to these people living a city full of idols, who are doing nothing but talking and listening to latest idea?

·       What can we learn and apply in today’s context where people are either worshipping idols or chasing for new things?

 

Acts 17:16-21:

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate 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. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

 

What led Paul to preach at Mars Hill? 
Acts 16:6, 9-10

6 Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 

 

 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

 

  • Led by the Holy Spirit

a)     Not the time, place and people of his choice

b)     Saw the “harasssed and helpless”

 

1 Peter 3:15

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

 

 

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

 

Why did Paul preach at Mars Hill?
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

 

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 

 

26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 

 

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[b] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 

 

30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

 

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

 

Who are the audience?

·       Common Athenians interested in the latest things

·       Epicurean and Stoic philosophers

·       Doubters who called Paul a blabbler

 

a)     Epicureans: Eat, drink and take life easy

b)     Stoics: Don’t grumble or complain, master yourself and become better

 

How can apply these to our modern-day context?

a)     Foolish to worship worthless idols

 

What if we asked someone, “Would you want to watch a football game where all the players were no better than you? Or watch a movie where the actors could act no better than you and were no better looking than you? Or go to a museum to see pictures by painters who could paint no better than you?” Why are we willing to be exposed in all these places as utterly inferior? How can we get so much joy out of watching people magnify their superiority over us? The biblical answer is that we were made by God to get our deepest joys not from being superior ourselves but from enjoying God’s superiority.

–        John Piper

 

 

Anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give.

–        Timothy Keller

 

Everything is necessary that He sends. Nothing can be necessary that He withholds.

– John Newton

 

b)     Philosophy and human wisdom are inadequate for answers to life

 

c)     How do we share the gospel in our culture?

Know them, their spiritual state and worldviews

Provide the holistic Christian worldview.

Their doomed relationship with gods and idols

 

Gospel is not the latest news, but it is eternally new
1)   New Covenant.

Luke 22:20

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

 

2)  New Creation

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

3)  New way of the spirit

Romans 7:6

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code”

 

4)  New things

Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

5)  New heaven and earth

2 Peter 3:13

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

“All that is not eternal is eternally useless” – C.S.  Lewis
Deacon Chengji
Deacon Chengji
c.chengji@gmail.com

Deacon Chengji is currently studying at Singapore Bible College. He joined The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) as a ministry staff in 2013. He is married to Preacher Huijun.

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