Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In The Arena With The Gospel

This Sunday we had our second worship service at Redeemer Baptist.
We worship the first Sunday of each month until Easter 20010.
Our subject in Scripture was Acts 17:16-34.
Teddy Roosevelt wrote a famous speech at the end of WWI and he talked about the man in the arena and how failure and sideline scoffers are of no value. The credit lies in the man in the arena who valiantly tries though errs and is discouraged.
In the life of the Apostle Paul he has just left Silas and Timothy in Berea. In Berea the God seeking Jews heard their gospel message and received it gladly for they compared the gospel message to their Old Testament scriptures. Great success. That's what I want in every endeavor.
I want success-tangible, touchable countable success.
I think every gospel preacher wants the Holy Ghost to fall on his service, and people come to repent of their sins and be born again.
I want people to respond like the Philippians jailer in Acts 16:30 and ask "What must I do to be saved?" after the sermon.
Paul was in Athens now. These Greeks valued their rich history of education and philosophy.
They would come to the Areopagus [an amphitheater shewn out of a marble hill] and debate. Civil cases were heard there. In Greek mythology the gods deliberated there.
Mars Hill.
Paul was in the arena.
These people were different from those of Berea.
The were educated yet arrogant. Some mocked Paul. They heard these new ideas and mocked them. They referred to Paul as a babbler or seed picker. They compared him to a lightweight bird who bounced around to from idea to idea like a little bird from seed to seed. They were great minds. They looked down on Paul though Paul was a great intellectual in reality.
What did Paul do? Complain? Insult? Quit? HE DEFENDED HIS FAITH.
Why?
Acts 17:16 says Paul was provoked.
Paul was provoked that God was not glorified in this arrogant place.
Paul was on the attack like a warrior in an army.
His anger and passion were not against the arrogant Athenians.
He was at war against those who took glory from the living God with false idols, and hell.
Paul had compassion for the lost people arrogant in their sins. Paul new them because he once was one of those people. Paul had the highest education available for a Jewish/Roman man of his culture. He persecuted Christians until Christ Jesus knocked him off his high horse and Paul repented of his sins and received the grace and peace with God made available only though the work of Christ on the cross where Christ paid for our sins and imputed His righteousness on those who believe the life saving gospel. Paul knew scripture before. Paul had now experienced the forgiveness and pardon for sins that only King Jesus can give.
Paul told the Athenians he knew they were very religious by their many idols. Paul said he notice an alter to "The unknown god". Paul then proceeded to tell them the gospel so they could
know these life saving God.
Their reaction-most sneered or dismissed this "babbler".
Scripture records that Dionsius and Damaris and others with them were saved.
A handful of people were saved-not thousands like at Pentecost.
Did it matter? Yes to those who received pardon, eternal life and peace with God.
Two thousand years later the idols are in museums. Those who received the gospel are in Heaven. The arrogant rebels of the gospel are in Hell. There are churches in Athens today.
You are in the Arena.
Are you willing to compete for the glory of God and the eternal destiny of those arrogant people like Paul was?

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