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I want to invite you to turn to Acts chapter 17, and I'm going to do this. I'm going to call a bit of an audible today because of time, and for time's sake. And so you just going to have to be ready up there. An audible, definition, if you look in Webster's book, an audible is what the Cowboys should always call when they come to the line, because whatever play they've called is a bad play. Go look it up on dictionary.com. You'll see that. But anyway, an audible is when you change what your plan was. I'm going to come back to Acts chapter 17 in the future, because it's one of my favorite chapters in all the Bible. I'm just going to focus on the challenge that we have, and really be the opportunity that we have in the and the responsibility we have to take the gospel to every arena in our lives.

In Acts chapter seven, what we see is Paul, the Apostle Paul, is on his second missionary journey. In Acts chapter 17, we see the visits three cities. Each one of these three cities are different religiously, culturally as well. He starts off Acts chapter 17 in a town called Thessalonica, and he plants churches there and he connects with people. We get the books later on, first and second Thessalonians were written to those churches in that area. Then he leaves Thessalonica, and he goes to Berea. He shares the Gospel, and share the Gospel and faith with them. Then he communicates with Berea. Then the third place he went to is probably much more like our environment today. It was very religiously mixed space and place philosophically, it was a seedbed of philosophy of that day, Athens. He went to Athens, and he took note of what he saw in Athens.

Now, if you and I are going to be able to share the gospel in every arena, and we would see ... and I would encourage you to read the whole chapter today. We'll see that Paul, when he went into each one of those towns, that's what Thessalonica, Berea, and here in Athens, that he shared the gospel not only at Church. In those days, it wasn't called Church, it was the synagogue. Paul would go to Berea, go to Thessalonica, wherever he went, the first place he would go would be to the synagogue. He would begin to share the Gospel, and basically connect what they believed and what they were being taught from the Old Testament to the New testament, and the truth of Jesus Christ as God's one and only son. He's the fulfillment of the Old Testament. That's why John the Baptist looked at Jesus and said, "Behold the lamb of God," pointing back to the Old Testament, "That takes away the sins of the world."

Every Jew that heard that phrase in that statement immediately understood, the whole sacrificial system was pointing towards this one event, this culminating Messiah, the savior of the world. So, Paul would go and he would share in the worship. If you want to lead someone to the Lord on your way out to the car, you do that. It would be awesome to have that happen right here at church. But then you would also see Paul, he shared faith in the marketplace. That he would walk around, and he even calls it the marketplace right here in the verses to the Athens. Says Paul walked out into the marketplace, in the neighborhood, in the market. Wherever he was, and where he worked, and where people work and he would share the gospel with them in the marketplace.

But also in Athens was a place where all the philosophers of the day would come together and they would have ongoing debates. Now, if you think I happened to preach a long time, I want you to know if you read this phraseology of Paul at a place called Mars Hill, your translation might say, that the average debate once they invited you up and you were basically said ... and they called it Mars Hill because it actually is a Mars Hill. There's a hill that you would go there and it's 377 feet. Boy, it rises up and it's this large hill, and over the years in Athens, some of the greatest philosophers you could ever imagine presented their ideas there abouts. Whether it was Socrates or Plato or his students. Aristotle, and so many other Greek philosophies were communicated right there.

When they took, and Paul began to preach not only in the synagogue there, but also in the marketplace, then he also preached now at Mars Hill. Mars Hill was a place that anytime someone said, "I've got a new idea, a new philosophy or new thought," they would take them out to Mars Hill. They would invite them to a dialog and a debate. Now, if you think I preach long time, the average ... you can read historical writings. The average discussion in debate was about two hours. All right? How many of you would love for me to preach two hours? I love y'all too. In fact, y'all get a discounted tithe for the rest of the year, only five percent for y'all, those who raise your hand, you've got to make that up. Your 15 if you didn't raise your hands, so you know you've got to offset that. Now you'll think differently how you respond.

But what they would do is, they'd invite people out. They would have a dialogue, and they would literally try to punch holes through whatever the philosophy was. And now listen, if we're going to share our faith like Paul and like we know we're commanded to in scripture, there are three things that we need, and here's the audible. You can look it up. And so guys, just follow me upstairs and ladies follow me upstairs. There are three things we need to know and be certain of if we're going to share our faith. Let's go ahead and put all three of them on the screen.

First thing is, you and I have to be certain about what we believe. We have to know what we believe. That's why we have doctrine classes. We have a ministry academy class, we have apologetics classes, we have discipleship classes. We have all kinds of classes to make sure you know, and you are certain about what you believe. If you are here today and you believe a little, but you would like to know more, just look around. I will promise you as we move towards January, there will be more things for you to learn that we can disciple you and teach you. So when you're standing there, you will be certain about what you believe. Part of what we need to know is what does scripture say? What is it mean that I am a Christian? And how should I view the universe from past to eternity future?

The truth is, and you might want to write this down, this isn't in your notes. We're going to move through this. Any good worldview ... if you are going to communicate the gospel to someone, if they believe something different. Every good worldview has to contain these four elements. Has to contain these four elements. You might want to write this down.

A good worldview has to have a message about the beginning. How did it all start? You might want to just write the word origin. What is the origin of the universe? Well, there are a lot of people that say, "Well, there's just some cosmic ooze that took place, or some explosion that happened, some big bang that happened." Well, that may explain the universe because none of us were there. All right? But there's also another way biblically. Here's how we define the beginning of everything. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God created everything. So we have a world view that tells us how everything began.

The second thing that every good worldview has to happen is the idea of meaning. What is my purpose here? Why are we here? If you take what we just all kind of exploded into this, these atoms collided, and now we have this universe. Now all of a sudden, somehow some way people showed up. Then what's our meaning? The truth is, there is no meaning to life. If we are just part of this cosmic ooze, this evolutionary process that somehow created, I want you to know there is no meaning. There is no underlying purpose that is there. But as child of God, we understand that God created us in His image to worship and please Him, and he is constantly calling us to Himself.

The third thing every worldview has to have, it has to have a definition of morality. What is right and what is wrong? How come we say, we're going to do this and we're not going to do that? What is the definition of truth? Is there such a thing as truth? Is there certain things that are absolutely morally, eternally right and some things that are wrong? Or is it all just kind of guesswork rolling through here? Boy, if you look in God's word, they will tell you, here's what is right and here is what is wrong. We have things called the Ten Commandments. We have all of these rules and laws that govern what our relationships, our lifestyle, our worship to God. That is what we do, and that's why we say no to certain things, and yes to other things.

But here's the fourth element that is very important. It's our destiny. Where are we headed? Where are we all going? Now as we think about that, go to revelation chapter 21 and 22. There's a new heaven and a new earth. Now, when you look at someone's worldview, when you understand that the second idea is we have to be aware of what others believe. Now be aware of what others believe. When you encounter someone that has a different worldview, you want to ask them some questions. You want to let them tell you what they believe. They say, "Well, you know, I just kind of believe that we all happened. It was just kind of this and kind of that. We just showed up here, and there has been an evolutionary process."

Then you go, "Okay, well then what's your purpose in life?" Then they're kind of like, "Well, I guess just to live as long as I can and be as good as I can." "Well, why would you want to be good?" If there is no absolute moral right and moral wrong, why do you want to be good? Why do we need to be good? While the reality of it is, the worldview, the Christian worldview says," God created us in his image." We teach that God is holy, is 100% God. He's holy, he's pure, he's everything. If He created us in His image, we have this natural, innate desire to be good, to live well. Then you want to ask them, "Where are we headed?" Then you want to ask them, "Where we headed?" You have to be aware what are the belief.

Now it's kind of interesting as we look through this passage in Acts chapter 17, picking up the story in Athens, what we see as Paul Preaches in the synagogue, he preaches in the marketplace. Then he goes to Mars Hill and they begin to have a dialogue. He begins to share his faith. They began to ask him questions. So he understood this. Now, part of what Paul does is beautiful if you go read Acts chapter 17. He walked through Athens, and he realized that they had all of these idols and all of these temples to other gods, and other spaces in other places. The Bible says he was upset, doesn't mean he was angry. It says he was distressed. That they were longing and looking for the answer, but they didn't have the answer.

As a matter of fact, Paul praises the people of Athens. He says, "Hey, I see that you are very religious and that's good." What was he doing? He was saying, "I can tell the beauty of what I see here is that you are longing for the answer." And he praises them. As a matter of fact, he says, "You even have an alter or a temple built to an unknown God." He says, "You actually have an altar built with this idea, that y'all may not have heard the ultimate message yet." Paul goes on to say, "You are ignorant about the very thing that you built the altar to."

Now I want you to hear me and I want you might want to write these two down. There is a difference between being ignorant and being stupid. I've got a lot of jokes I could share there, but there's a difference. Ignorant, you might want to write this down, and you can look it up. Ignorance just means you lack knowledge. Okay? A baby, a young child, a toddler, that walks up to an oven and puts their hand on the oven, or a hand on the burner and it burns them, they acted ignorantly, right? They didn't know it was going to burn their hand. They were just without knowledge.

Now, if I go home today, crank it up on high, slam my hand there and I burn it, I'm stupid. Do you realize that? There is a difference. When Paul says, and I've actually heard people say this and they almost sometimes ... We have to be real careful as believers, that we tell them, don't talk down to those who just don't know the gospel. They'll say, "Remember Paul, just call them a bunch of ignorant idiots." Well, no, he really didn't. He just said, "I applaud y'all for legitimate search for truth. I applaud you even for building an altar to a truth and a God that maybe you haven't met yet, and you are ignorant of the truth." He didn't say there were stupid.

If you read the writings of Socrates, and Plato and Aristotle, or read the philosophy and you just go on down the ... man, they were some of the smartest people that lived. Walked on the face of the earth. Still influence our thoughts today. But the reality of it is Paul says, "You're ignorant. "Now, here's the third thing. You have to be prepared to share your faith. So Paul walks in, and here's where the connection has to be. He walks in, walks around the city, walks through Mars Hill.

He says, "Hey, listen, I see that your religious people, I see that you've even built an altar to an unknown God, because you are ignorant," not stupid. "You're ignorant about what you do not know, but at least you are leaving open the possibility that there is a better truth, and a connection with God." Then he was prepared to share his faith, and he goes, "That's what I'm going to share with you right now." If you go read the passage, here's what Paul said.

He started by defining, basically the Gospel. Says, "He began to share with them the good news." Now, if you're going to share the good news with you need to make sure that you have all the parts in there. I will just submit to you, and you might want to just write these, that there are really four significant parts of sharing the gospel. A lot of times now, because of time or just because of the way we are in our modern society, we truncate the gospel down. We shrink it down. I would say there are four major things when you are sharing the gospel, that you and I need to communicate with someone.

First of all, we need to communicate that God created everything. God created everything including them, including me, including everything that we see. That God created everything. Talk about Genesis one and two, "And when God created everything, it was good." But then the second thing we need to communicate, when we talk about the Gospel, we need to communicate the fall, the sin. See in Genesis one and two, we see good. In Genesis three, sin entered into the world and death, and evil and everything. Why do you want to share that part of the Gospel? That explains a lot.

See, part of a world view is that it has to be logically consistent. You have to be able to empirically verify it. There are some world views out there, other religious worldviews and other people, who basically believe that evil is a figment of your imagination. That's not logical at all. Just look around. Walk in my shoes for a couple of weeks. You want to see if evil is real, man let me tell you. Sit with a family, a mom and a dad who has lost a son or a daughter. If you don't think this world ain't messed up, just sit with them.

Why? Because children were created to lose their parents, parents were not created to lose their children. But we live in a sinful society, right? We live in a place that evil is here. So we have to explain to them the fall. God says, and because of that, all the disease, all the hurt, all the death, all the heartache, all the broken people, all the broken relationships, all the brokenness you see in the world came as a result of sin. But you don't stop there either, because as you're sharing your faith, you go to part number three is called redemption.

The god who created everything in Genesis one and two and created it good, He wants to redeem us, and our life and our person. If He created you in His image, He wants a relationship with you. When Paul was having a dialogue with all those people there at Mars Hill, they really believed ... and he actually points out a couple of groups by the way, you can go read it. He points out the Epicureans and the Stoics. There were others that were there, but he points them out for a reason. Because they were at two different ends of the spectrum.

The Epicureans probably, and I won't go in a ... I'd love to share a lot more about them. They're interesting individuals, but here's basically their motto. If it feels good, do it. They were a hedonist of the day. But one thing that was consistent about the Epicureans and the Stoics was this, they believed that somehow, someway they were gods or a God that created the world and just kind of let it go, not active relational in it.

The stoics would have been on the other end of the spectrum. They would be the intellectuals. They would have talked to you like this. They would have had a scowl. They would have looked like university professors. They would have walked around, they would have talked about it, and they would have said, we've got to distance ourself from emotion, and all of these feeling things and all of that. If you're a Star Trek fan, they would be Spock. That's who they would be. Just kind of distant from everything.

So Paul actually address ... He says, "I see we have some Epicureans here, and I've got some Stoics here, and here is the reality. The God who created everything, unlike what you believe in your philosophy is not only God creator, he's God relater. That God wants a relationship with you" Let me just tell you what, they didn't get that part. They thought there was some God way off, somewhere in their philosophy. That created the stars and everything, but we're not going to have a relationship with him.

See, part of redemption is that God loves you so much because He created you. That He sent His one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, be buried in the tomb, raise again on the third day, that you could be saved. All the evil and sinfulness in your life could be forgiven. So that you could have a relationship with Him. Let me just tell you what they did when he talked about the God who created the universe having a relationship with you. They all went, "Huh? Really?" And then they said, "Hey, can you give us some proof?" Proof is important. I want you to know that I'm not just simply a Christian because I want to be a Christian. I'm a Christian because it's true.

Paul actually looks at them and he goes, "Listen, some of your own writers," and I love that. Being aware of what they believe. He read their stuff. I will tell you, if you want to share your faith with someone at the officer or neighbor, and you find out that they believe a certain way or they follow a certain thing, I want to encourage you step back and go figure out what they believe. What is their Christian worldview? Then don't walk in there and say, "You're stupid." Walk in there and say, "Hey, can we talk? I want to applaud you for living the way you live, and what you do." You're kind of what? You're doing exactly what Paul says, setting a pattern.

Then you say, "Can we have a dialogue?" A little question and answer. Then begin to share your faith with them. Then as you share your faith, you move on to the fourth part, which is what? Man, it's restoration. Become Revelation 21 and 22, "God is going to restore everything." So if you think of, here's the gospel picture. God created everything good, sin entered into the world. So there was good, that's creation. Then that's called the fall. Then it's called redemption, and we're redeemed. Then you go back to restoration, where it's going to end in revelation 21 and 22 like it began in Genesis one and two. That is consistency folks.

If you look at the Bible, here it is. Now, a lot of times where we truncate the gospel, is we truncate it to the middle two points. Let me tell you what, sometimes you have to. But the middle two points are what? The fall and redemption. But let me tell you what, if that's all you focus on when you share the gospel, you have left a lot of unanswered questions. That's why I want to encourage you talk about creation. Talk about restoration. Let them believe what they want to, but share the gospel, but share the whole movement with them.

Now, here's a key part. If you going to share the gospel in every arena, you have to be willing to take a risk. You have to be willing to take a risk. You say, "What's the risk pastor?" If you read this whole passage, you will see there were three ways. Jump down to the bottom, there are three ways people responded to Paul. Go ahead and put them up on the screen here.

Some laughed and rejected the gospel. As a matter of fact, the word that is used in the Greek there, in the book of Acts as Luke is recounting the story, is the word sneered. That means they walked right off and said, "You know what? I'm not going to listen to you. That's just stupid. That's silly. God had a relationship with us. God is creator and he wants a relationship with me, but He also wants to redeem me and restore everything." and some just laughed. You know what? You got to be willing to take that risk.

There's a second group of people, and I think most of us will encounter these kinds of people if we will go to them lovingly like Paul did. Some of them said, "You know what? We're open to talking." As a matter of fact, that's exactly what they said. They said, "You know what? Your two hours were well spent," and according to my estimation, I've got about an hour and 45 minutes left. Said, "We're willing to hear you more about this." Some rejected them. Some said, "Can I hear more?"

You hear me say this a lot. If you are here today, and you are just open-minded to the realities of God's love for you, and God's creation, you're in the right place. I want encourage you to stay open-minded. That God can continue to draw you, and communicate you, and you will see that Christianity makes sense. It explains creation. It explains all the evil, the tough questions that you and I have. It explains morality. What's right, what's wrong? Now I want you to know, don't look at Christians because we do it imperfectly. Look at his words. But then also there's a beautiful day. The Revelation 21 and 22 says, "Behold, I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the old things have passed away. There'll be no longer any death, or dying, or crying or pain because the old things have passed away. Just stay open-minded, keep listening.

Then I love this, some followed and believed. Some began to look at their own philosophy. I will submit to you that, there are probably some here that may not be a believer. You're listening to Christian faith. Many that I encounter, and I share this, and I'll ask them to tell me their worldview. They can't express their worldview. But I'll begin to ask them, and then at some points I'll look at them and say, "You know, what you're sharing with me is not logically consistent with the life that you live. It's not logically consistent with the life you live." But Christianity is verified.

That's why Paul even said, "The proof of the Gospel is found in the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Paul uses that word proof. If you look at Christianity from Old Testament to New Testament, there's proof everywhere. One of those places is the resurrection. Paul says, "Listen, this Jesus who was nailed to the cross who died, who rose again the third day, this Jesus was verified as resurrected by not only his friends and his disciples, but 500 other people and even his enemies that put Him to death."

He said, "The proof of the resurrection is not found in my words, it's found in what others said about it. Those who saw Him, those who responded, and those who acted." Let me tell you what, if the people who nailed Christ to the cross wanting to get rid of Christianity, all they had to do was drag out the body of Jesus and produce it. But they couldn't. Why? Because the grave was empty. He had ascended back to the Father, and they had no answer for the proof of the resurrection. You can still reject it, but you can't deny that it ever happened.

As we think beyond, if we're going to take that risk and understand some might sneer, and some might laugh, and some might jeer, and some others might be open-minded, and some would receive and believe. We have to be faithful. Simply share the gospel in every area of our life. The worst thing you can do as a believer is take what Jesus said He has placed in every heart, in every man, and ignore the fact that is there. Whether someone comes to church every Sunday, or never been to church in their life, you know what scripture says? "Eternity has been set in the heart of every man and every woman." Why? Because they were created in the image of God.

They are longing for truth. They are longing for the real witness. They're longing for us to share the gospel. Someone is open-minded, you continue to have conversation with them. You continue to engage with them. You continue to talk to them, and you share with them the full gospel. God created you for a relationship with them. Sin has separated us from God, but God because of His love for His created beings, redeemed us through His son, Jesus Christ. We are headed toward a day where exactly what you want right now will be a reality. What does everybody want right now? All this evil to be gone. That's the gospel.

You don't have to be the smartest person on the planet earth to figure it out. You don't have to be the most religious person to figure it out. Because God said, "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." I want to invite us just to bow our heads there where we are. I want to invite you even now, you can find it in your Creek Guide. Wednesday night, November the 28th we're going to have a rally in here for a conference that we have coming up in March.

It's a Rethink Conference, where we'll help you share your faith and engage with people from other cultures, and other spaces and other places. I want to invite you to come to the rally that Wednesday night, and pray God invest in my heart. Then begin to plan now with you and your kids to come back in March to the conference, where we literally bring the top 10 Apologists from all over the nation right here to this church. I'll tell you, last year was big. This year, we're not going to have enough space. But you want to be here.

Father, thank you so much for our people. God I pray right now for every person in this room, that they would understand that part of the call of the Gospel is that we'd be willing to share the good news. Even if some sneer, and jeer and laugh, some we know will listen. Some others will accept. God, I pray that we would boldly leave this place, willing to be salt and light in every space, in every place and in every relationship. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen, and Amen.

 

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