Three Challenges to the Cross (1278)
In Acts 17, Paul walks down the streets of Athens, Greece and meets three challenges to the cross—to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The same three challenges that Paul met are ones we could meet tomorrow morning; the ones who opposed the Gospel in Acts 17 could believe the same things as the people we rub shoulders with today. We need to learn how Paul met these challenges so that we can meet them in a God-honoring way.
First, Paul met superstitious idolatry. Acts 17:16 says, “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.” An idol is anything you love, serve, fear or trust more than God. Paul saw idolatry everywhere he turned in Athens. Our city, even sometimes our churches, are filled with idolatry. We all worship something, because mankind is incurably religious. Adrian Rogers says, “If man does not worship the true God, he will worship a false god, but he will worship.”
Secondly, Paul met stubborn bigotry. When Paul entered the synagogue and presented the Gospel to the people, he was met with stubbornness; the people were so sure they were right and he was wrong. Adrian Rogers says, “The hardest man to win to Jesus Christ is the man who doesn’t see his need of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many times he has a religious bigotry.”
Thirdly, Paul met sophisticated philosophy. A philosopher is a lover of wisdom, one who takes pride in his learning. In Paul’s day, he encountered two types of philosophers: the Epicures and the Stoics. Epicureans sought pleasure above anything else. Stoics believed they were victims of fate, that God is in everything and everything is God. We still encounter people who believe this way. Unfortunately, often times, their innate foolishness keeps them from knowing Jesus.
How did Paul deal with this opposition? He simply continued to preach, and reveal the character of God: that He created us, controls us, convicts and commands us. Some mocked, some laughed and some procrastinated. But, thank God, others believed.
We can’t make others believe, however, we have the opportunity to preach the Gospel anyway.
Apply it to your life
Do you have any idols in your life that need to be dealt with? Repent and follow God with a wholly devoted heart.