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Applying the Gospel to Culture (Acts 17)

Aug 1, 2021
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Applying the Gospel to Culture (Acts 17)
Paul’s road to Athens did not go exactly as he planned. In fact, he was run out of town, thrown in jail, and sent away on a ship. Paul is probably not in a great place as he arrives in Athens. He is waiting for Silas and Timothy, but he walks around the city and sees idols everywhere. Athens is past its glory days, and they were living off of their history. In Acts 17:16 it reads, “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”. His spirit was provoked for the jealousy of God and glory of Jesus. The people of Athens had taken the Holy Name and profaned it. This means they took something sacred and made it common. (See Ezekiel 36)
Paul is compelled to “take it to the streets” in 3 ways:
1. He reasoned in the synagogues. This means he left room for conversation with the religious Jews of Athens. The people could ask questions.
2. He went to the marketplace every day with those that happened to be there. This place was called the Agora. It was were life happened in the city. Paul had conversations and got to know the people of the marketplace. Paul found a way to “gossip the gospel”.
3. He was invited to the Areopagus, a large rock outcropping near the Acropolis. This is where the “deep thinkers” (v21) would determine if they liked what was being presented. In verses 22-31, Paul clearly shares the gospel with grace. He is courteous and uses their culture to reason with them. He quoted their poets and avoided using Jewish history. These verses contain a summary of his sermon, but in it he shows that God is:
A. Creator of all (v24)
B. Sustainer of all (v25)
C. Ruler over all (v26-27)
D. Father of all (v28-29)
E. Judge of all (v30-31)
What do we learn from Paul in this journey?
1. Look and then look some more
2. Seek to understand the culture
3. Engage and don’t retreat
To Discuss Today:
1. Pastor Jimmy shared that too many Christians have a mindset that separate the sacred from the secular. We find ourselves retreating from the culture to stay in the safety of our “Holy huddle”. How does this damage the gospel?
2. Take some time to think about our city. What are the idols? Where is the Agora? What is unique to Charlotte culture?
3. How can you intentionally engage and find a way to “gossip the gospel” in your everyday life? What does it mean for you to “intentionally engage”?
4. If you would like to know more information about the Charlotte Institute for Faith and Work, please email Angela Schlottman at