The gospel of Jesus is the greatest treasure in the universe. There are amazing, too-good-to-be-true blessings that come with getting this message right. And, there are serious, grave consequences if we get it wrong. So, it is vital that we ask, how do we faithfully proclaim Jesus in our beautiful, sophisticated, highly educated but spiritually deceived city?
This morning we are back in the great book of The Acts of the Apostles after two weeks away. Acts was written by Luke in order to record all that Jesus continued to do and teach through his apostles following his ascension into heaven (cf. Acts 1:1-2). It is the earliest authoritative, historical record we have of the early church and its expansion throughout the known world. Throughout our study we’ve been asking, “What is true Christianity?”, “How do we explain the rapid expansion of the church, that continues to this day?”, and “What difference does all of this make for us in modern day Seattle?” If you’re just joining us, you can find all of the related media from this series at our website (www.downtowncornestone.org) or via our iTunes podcast.
The central figure in the last half of the book of Acts is the Apostle Paul. Before becoming the Apostle Paul he was Saul the Pharisee, the primary enemy of the fledgling Christian church (Acts 8:1-3). But, after a personal encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus, he converted to Christ and immediately began to proclaim the gospel (Acts 9:1-31). Years later, he embarked on what is known as his first missionary journey, along with Barnabas (Acts 13-14). Today, in Acts 17:1-34, we find ourselves in the middle of the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, visiting three very different cities: Thessalonica, Berea and Athens.
The main theme of this chapter is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as King and Savior of all people, everywhere (Acts 17:30) for the forgiveness of sins and life with Him.There are roughly ten references to various forms of proclamation in this chapter (e.g. reasoning, explaining, proving, proclaiming, preaching, etc). The gospel of Jesus is the greatest treasure that God has given to us. There are amazing, too-good-to-be-true blessings that come with getting this message right. And, there are serious, grave consequences if we get it wrong. So, the main question in view today is, “How do we faithfully proclaim Jesus in our beautiful, sophisticated, highly educated but spiritually deceived city?”
We’re going to travel with Paul through three cities this morning. In each city we’re going to ask:
- What is the right message about Jesus?
- What is the right method for delivering that message?
- What should we expect as a result?
17:1-9 Proclaiming Jesus in Thessalonica.
Q: What is the message?
vs.3 “it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead…” = atonement. The atonement of Jesus puts us “at one” with God. The atonement is the doctrinal truth that the work of Jesus’ life, death & resurrection secures our salvation.
Jesus’ LIFE secures us a perfectly righteous record.
Phil 3:9 “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ..
Rom 5:19 “by [Jesus’] obedience many will be made righteous…”
Jesus’ DEATH secures our forgiveness from God for sin.
John 1:29 “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
1Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…”
Heb 9:28 Jesus was “offered once to bear the sins of many…”
Jesus’ RESURRECTION guarantees all of this.
Rom 4:25 [Jesus] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
1Pe 1:3 “he has causes us to be born again to a living hope through resurrection of Jesus”
1Cor15:17 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”
So, why does this matter? The Bible tells us that we are born enslaved to sin, that results in a guilty record, a broken relationship God, and ultimately the wrath of God. The atonement addresses each one of these needs.
Jesus is our redemption.
Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.
1 Tim 2:4 There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…
Jesus is our sacrifice.
Heb 9:26 “He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Jesus is our reconciliation.
2 Cor 5:18 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…”
Eph 2:13 “Now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Jesus is our propitiation.
1 Jn4:10 “not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Rom 3:25 “God put [Jesus] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
Therefore, in shorthand, to proclaim Jesus is to say:
Jesus died for your sins and rose from dead to prove he is God.
Q: What is the method?
Use Your Words. The gospel of Jesus must be proclaimed verbally. It can’t ooze out of you. You can’t rub it off on others. Proximityis not point; Hearing is point.
Use Your “Scriptures”. The Bible is God’s revelation of who He is, who we are, what He has done for us. Sin has so darkened our minds, that we need external truth to bring light and transformation. So, when it comes to proclaiming Jesus, focus on him and avoid secondary issues.
Use Your Brain (vs2-3) We are told that Paul “reasoned”, “explained”, “proved”. Reasoned: logically persuade. Explain: to make understandable. Proving: present argument w/ evidence. What does all this mean? It means that Christianity is not mindless. You don’t have to check your mind at door. God created your brain. Common cultural representations of evangelicals could not be more wrong. The biblical, historical, archaeological, sociological, personal support for Christianity is staggering. The answers are there. It is foolish to reject Christianity because you met a fe crazy Christians.
Q: What are the results?
Some believe and some are angry. Same today.
17:10-14 Proclaiming Jesus in Berea.
3 characteristics of hearts that are hungry for truth
- Noble: Open-minded. Rationally review the evidence.
- Eagerness: Expectancy. Interest. readiness.
- Examining: Searching scriptures themselves. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing.
Q#1 MESSAGE? Word of God.
Q#2 METHOD? Proclaimed.
Q#3 RESULTS? vs12 belief; vs13 unbelief
17:15-34 Proclaiming Jesus in Athens.
Athens has a 3,000 year history. It was the birthplace of Western civilization and democracy. it was the center of philosophy, arts, culture, intellectual pursuit and government. It had been the home to Aristotle, Plato, Socrates. It was a city of fierce individualism, religious pluralism, highly educated, center of culture and art; much like Seattle. And, it was totally pagan.
Q#1 MESSAGE + METHOD?
vs 18 “Preaching Jesus and the resurrection”
Some mocked. Some said later. Some believed.
What does it mean to proclaim Jesus?
Get the MESSAGE right: Death of Jesus for our sins + Resurrection for hope of eternal life.
Get the METHOD right: Clear, direct, thoughtful words.
Get our EXPECATIONS right: Some will reject, some will passively wait, some will believe.
It’s hard to share a gospel that is not good news to you. Have you been gripped by it?
- Jesus was rejected, so you might be adopted.
- Jesus took your sin, so you might take his righteousness.
- Jesus bore your punishment, so you might bear his blessings.
- Jesus experienced God’s wrath, so you might experience God’s forgiveness.
- Jesus died, so you might live – now and forever.
- Cross is the focal point of the complex love of God.
Together, let’s proclaim Jesus.
Get message right. Get method right. Get right expectations.