May 19, 2015 by pastorjdo3
The first session of the Copper Grove Discipleship Group flowed well. The group dove into the Counter Culture study by David Platt, and examined the lead scripture of Acts 17:1-23. This script is the back drop of the study, because it shows Paul and Silas traveling and encountering culture. It highlights their pattern of success, and teaches us some ways that we can be more successful in addressing current day culture.
Verses 1 through 9 highlight the story of Paul and Silas in Thessalonica teaching and preaching, while staying in the home of a man named Jason. Paul and Silas show one of the characteristics that we must have, and that is persistence. Verse 2 says, “As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people.” Paul was first in the habit of going to the Synagogue. This teaches and encourages us to do likewise, but his purpose for going is even greater than learning. He is studying before he goes, applying as he leaves, and teaching upon his return. Paul demonstrates the zeal and persistence that we must show to reach our culture. Though a learned man, Paul seeks to learn more by attending, that he might strengthen his argument and be more convincing in his presentation. We must do likewise.
Furthermore, we looked at the response of the Jewish leaders to the success of Paul and Silas. Verse 5 says, “But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathers some trouble makers….” On closer view, we see that the leaders have lost focus of the purpose and mission. Here they are facing an argument that sways people from Yahweh, but they are caught up not in trying to defend God, but find themselves jealous of Paul and Silas. This shamefully happens in many churches and groups and causes much damage and separation in a body that is supposed to be unified as one. The leaders are more upset that they are loosing influence than their concern for whether Paul and Silas were correct in what they presented. We must fight jealousy. We must appreciate and welcome those who enter our flock and be open to hear what God reveals through His Spirit. We must take said revelations and information and align it with God’s Word to validate or invalidate what has been spoken. Jealousy has no place in ministry. It takes the focus off God, and places the focus on ourselves.
Verse 6 shows us something about Jason, a man that we have very few details about. Jason was pulled out of his home while the Jewish leaders searched for Paul and Silas. The stormed his house, and dragged he and others into the streets. They were accused. They were arrested. They were restricted from moving. And finally, they lost money paying bail. It was pointed out that our homes often suffer attacks when we stand in agreement with God and seek to aid in the Spread of the Kingdom of God. Though Jason was not the teacher or preacher, he was one that was willing to allow his home to serve as a dwelling for the Lord; and for that, he suffered an attack. Many times we believe that the attacks we suffer are punishment, when in actuality, they are often a direct result of obedience and our willingness to be used by God. Conversions bring Conflict. Whenever the devils kingdom is attacked, he will attack. The devil will not sit quietly as the Kingdom advances, thus we must be prepared to suffer through and persevere in moments of hardship and calamity, knowing that the Kingdom is at stake.
Lastly, we see Paul and Silas in Berea, and then moving to Athens. In Athens (Verses 16-34), we see Paul modeling how we can change this present culture. First, he shows respect. Though Paul knows they are in error in their belief, he approaches them with respect acknowledging that they are spiritual and that they are men. He continues by showing them his respect by informing them that he has watched closely, and paid attention to their worship and studied their gods and their worship. Paul uses this time to gain an understanding of who they were, and what they understood. He specifically looked for parallels to teach from, and an opening to introduce the Messiah.
Paul found this window in Verse 23 when he saw the “...inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’” To be effective, we must do likewise. We must both respect the culture, understand the culture, approach the culture, and then teach the culture. He made sure he wasn’t offensive when speaking to them, treating their idols with respect, but giving the ultimate respect to the true and living God, exalting Him above all, and encouraging others by teaching and baring witness as to His Power and His will for our lives. Once he gained the floor and the attention, he began to persuade by pointing out the flaws in their current idol worship. Many of us have written off this present age! But Paul was filled with hope and determination.
Then again, Paul and Silas show patience and perseverance by standing firm, and speaking to the audience. And in this approach, Verse 34 says, “But some people joined him and believed. Among them were Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” We loved in this verse that Paul was speaking to the Areopagus, where as he spoke in the Synagogue in Thessalonica and Berea, and initially in the market place in Athens. Paul was looking for any and every opportunity, taking the necessary risk to reveal truth. We looked at our lives in comparison. A. Most are not looking for the opportunity. B. Most are afraid of the opportunity. Many of us see opportunities to share the Gospel, but excuse ourselves from taking the risk to share because of our personal or family needs. It’s not that we must be rogues, and display jihad like behavior, but that we must be sensitive to our surroundings and sensitive enough to the Spirit to take advantage of the opportunities God makes available to be a witness for Him.
If we will do these things, we will see the number of people being saved grow daily. We must analyze our approach and seek to gain a better understanding of the people we are called to minister too. We must be bold and willing to make the sacrifices needed to spread the Gospel. We must be courageous under attack and withstand the pressures that come along with spiritual warfare. Great things are in store for the Kingdom of God, when we can keep our temples focused on Him and not caught up in fleshly feelings of jealousy and envy.