Culture Part Two
Where We Are / Acts 17:16–34
What is Paul saying about Christ?
• Where do you see the culture searching frantically for God? Where does it show up?
• How do you sometimes search for God in lesser things in your lives?
Hope itself is never far knowing that Christ walks near
English Standard Version Chapter 17
What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us
Our Vision of Christian Hope is found in God’s sovereignty
• Paul begins to define the unknown God.
• He gives Him characteristics and a history.
• What Paul understands about this is that there are all sorts of gods that do all sorts of particular things in the ancient world. Not one of them, even Zeus oversaw everything. There is not one creator or one sustainer. Each only takes a part
• these gods only have a little power over little things. And Paul is contrasting Christ and saying that He does not even need from creation because He is creator.
• He is beyond and bigger and greater. He is in creation but also completely responsible for creation. He is life itself but also gives life. He is the ultimate plan but also has a plan
God did not just help humanity He established it.
• The gods in Greek and Rome were helpers or tormenters. They would either benefit and support the goals of humans or restrict them. They were placed so that humans would have help in achieving their goals.
• We have built lives where our will is at the center and everything around us (small g gods) exists to move us forward into that will or desire or keeps us from it.
• We are living Greek lives in modern times.
• How do we as Christians build lives of small “g” gods? Where we are in the center and God’s job (according to our actions) is just to do what we ask?
• How is God leading you out of that so that we are positioned in life to do what He asks?
• This is the image of God that Paul wants the Athenians and us to see. He wants our heads to move from managing whats in front of us to seeing God in His glory above and larger than us.
• Our hope does not come from someone who can simply help us, our hope comes from Someone who Created us.
• Paul is enlarging our image of God so that we would seek Him for who He is.
• Do you know someone like the Athenians? Someone who is seeking God but is trying to do so through building idols “to the unknown god?” Meaning they are seeking and you know they are seeking God but they are doing it through different means?
• Take some time as a group to pray for those people
Acts 17:28–29 ESV
“ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.
Our Vision of Human Hope is found past our searching
• Paul is positioning the text and his message to pull us into something larger and greater. He tells them that they have been trying to fashion gods on their own understanding. But God is greater than our understanding.
English Standard Version Chapter 3
that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
• God is always pulling us into His more. Into His fullness. We need to see our searching as a way to see hope in Him.
• How is God leading you beyond your own understanding?
• According to Ephesians 2:17-21 what is the role of the church body in God leading us beyond our understanding to know Him in His fullness?
Acts 17:30–31 ESV
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
God’s Vision of Human Hope is found in the direction we are moving
• God desires the best for us
• God is not a list of do’s and don’ts, He is significantly more and has hope for His children.
– Repentance is hard news if you think you have things figured out.
– Repentance is great news if you aren’t sure of your current direction.
Acts 17:26–27 ESV
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
• Any time we turn and move toward God we find He is already there. We cannot beat Him in a race to hope. He is already there and has already offered it.
Repentance is the shortcut between you and God.
• Is God leading you in a new direction?
• How is He calling you to meet with and find Him?
What is your vision of Christian Hope?
• That which you love the most will always be within arms reach
• God has placed us within His arms reach.
• He has looked for us. Positioned Himself near us.
• Hope in our lesser gods is passing. Hope In the God who Creates and comes near is lasting.
• What is God saying to you about this passage and this week?
• Take some time and pray for each other to hear from and respond to God’s leadership this week.