Acts 17 – Unstoppable Church – Week 14

August 6, 2023

Sermon Series: Unstoppable Church

Today’s Sermon: THE GOD You NEED to KNOW! 

Scripture: Acts 17: 16-34 NLT 


The Big Idea: Our love for God and people should lead us to compassion accompanied by action. 


 Christ in a Clueless Culture


Acts 17:16a While Paul was waiting for them in Athens…


  • Athens was the intellectual capital of the world.
  • It was also the center for art and athletics.


Acts 17:16 … He was deeply  troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 


  • Areopagus on the Acropolis. Temples of Apollo and Zeus.


 Acts 17:17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God -fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. 


  • The public square was more than just a shopping district, it was the cultural center for discussion and debate. 


 Acts 17:18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers… 


  • Epicureans believed in the pleasures seeking way of life.
  • Stoics believed that people must live in harmony with nature and resist physical (sexual) desires. It’s all about self- control. Pain doesn’t bother you; pleasure doesn’t seduce you.


Acts 17:18… what’s this babbler trying to say? .. He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.


  • Babbler: Like a chicken that picks up seeds and spits them out. They said Paul had a second class mind. 
  • Paul was preaching Jesus.


Acts 17:19 Then they took him to the high council (Areopagus) of the city. Come and tell us about this new teaching. 


  • They were always looking for some new god that they could add to their Parthenon. So they are interviewing Paul. 


Acts 17:22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: This took at least 20 min. Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way. 


  • Religious: Superstitious or Spiritual. 


Acts 17:23 For as I walked along I saw your many shrines (altars). And one of your altars had this inscription on it: To an Unknown God. This was there just in case god, making sure it’s all covered. … This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 


Paul Answers their question:


Acts 17:24 – 27 He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since He is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man made temples and human hands can’t serve His needs – for He has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need. From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth, He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him – though He is not far from any one of us.  


Paul was saying:


  • The real God is self -existent, He doesn’t need anything. He created everything and mankind.
  • Man’s greatest pursuit is to KNOW HIM.
  • All the Greek gods were a means to power, prosperity, sex etc.


Paul was saying that God Himself is the Reward. 


Acts 17:28 For in Him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, We are His offspring. ( this is a quote from a song written about Zeus in 600 BC). 

Acts 17:29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. 

  • We can’t make God in our image, we can’t reduce God. 

Acts 17:30 – 31 God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him. For He has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man He has appointed , and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead. 


Paul’s Formula for Sharing JESUS Christ with a Clueless Culture 

1. Be Provoked By Idolatry. 

  • Artemis: The goddess of prosperity.
  • Athena: The goddess of wisdom (politics).
  • Nike: The goddess of victory.
  • Aphrodite: The goddess of sexuality.


Today’s gods:

  • Creation
  • Climate
  • Sexuality
  • Power
  • Possessions
  • Money
  • Sports


Paul was provoked by idolatry, but he didn’t run from the people of Athens, he ran toward them in compassion and truth.

2. Meet People Where They Are. 

  • Find points of agreement.
  • All of us ask, “What on earth am I here for?”
  • It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than  your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind or happiness.
  • It all starts with God.

3. Expose the Insufficiency of False Answers. 

  • How’s that working for you?
  • Are you satisfied?
  • Does it promise security?
  • We as people ask the right questions, but only Jesus gives satisfying answers.

4. Proclaim the Greatness of God. 

  • God has no beginning or end. He exists outside the realm of time, space and matter.
  • He is the Great I Am!

5.The Resurrection of Jesus Changes Everything.  

  • Fundamentally the Gospel is an announcement, not an explanation.

… but who do you say that I am?… You are the Christ – Messiah, the Son of the living God.  Matthew 16: 13 -18 


Speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow His body to rot in the grave. God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this… Acts 2: 31 -32 


Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Luke 24: 5-6 


Three Reactions to the Gospel 

Acts 17:32-34

When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council,[a] a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

  • Some mocked
  • Some asked for further discussion
  • Some joined and believed


Question:Are we moved with compassion when we see people consumed by their idols? Are we like Paul? We have to say something, do something. 

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