Religion ... Ridicule ... Results

J.C. Penney Co pulled a T-shirt from its shelves that was accused of ridiculing home-schooled children. The shirt carried the words “Home Skooled” and a picture of a mobile home. (CSA Weekly Recap 8/17/01) … More

Ridiculing

Paul arrived in Athens, the intellectual capital of the ancient world, and the center of idolatry, education and philosophy. Someone once said that in Athens it was easier to find a god than a man.  “The city was wholly given to idolatry” (v. 16).  People spent their time telling or hearing “some new thing” (v. 21). Athens illustrates to what great heights of achievement man can ascend and still be ignorant of God. It also illustrates what knowledge amounts to apart from divine revelation. The city was also devoted to philosophy. Even today, when we think of Greece we automatically think of Socrates and Aristotle. The two main philosophies of that time were the Epicureans and the Stoics. The Epicureans were very materialistic minded; they were atheists and their main goal in life was pleasure. The Stoics were the exact opposite. They were very religious, and their chief emphasis was on personal discipline. The Epicureans said, “Enjoy life,” and the Stoics said, “Endure life.”

At Athens Paul could clearly see that human wisdom was foolishness, philosophy had no answers, religion was a mockery, and law could not change the human heart. He began to witness in both the synagogue and the market place. Soon he was invited to Mars Hill to share his teaching. We find him sharing four basic truths about God:

  1. The greatness of God:He is creator (v. 24)
  2. The goodness of God:He is provider (v. 25)
  3. The government of God:He is ruler (vv. 26-29)
  4. The grace of God:He is Savior (vv. 30-31)
As a result of His message some laughed and mocked. Others were interested, but wanted to hear more. A small group believed in Jesus Christ and were saved.

Application

Lord, help me to be sharing the four points above that Paul shared. If I am doing this I will probably get the same kind of results.

Acts 17:16-34 (English Standard Version)

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, "What does this babbler wish to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities"--because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean." Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for "'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, "'For we are indeed his offspring.' Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, "We will hear you again about this." So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

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Acts 18:5-11
Opposition Enhances Ministry Results

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The Holy Spirit is a Person

Acts 19:8-16
Miracles Performed by Paul for Authentication

Acts 19:17-22
Beware of Cult Practices

Acts 19:21-41
Results of Religious Greed

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Discipleship Despite Difficulties

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