Our text is Acts 17:16-34.
Is an idol worth your time, devotion and love? Is God knowable? If God is knowable, what is he like?
Paul addresses these questions and others, as he confronts those who would like to think their worldview is best. Paul demonstrates that the only view of life that makes sense and gives satisfying answers to the human questions of origins, meaning, morality, and destiny is the one where Jesus Christ is at the center of life as Lord and Savior.
Children’s Message: Pastor Chad Sadorf has been including a series of Children’s Messages. These messages will parallel the sermons from Acts to help guide the children through the concepts that are taught in the sermon. Today’s message is provided as a video; this link appears just after the Gloria Patri in the service (where it would normally occur in our church service). Click on these links for a children’s bulletin and printable coloring page to accompany this message: Children’s Bulletin and Paul Preached in Europe coloring sheet.
Service for Family Worship:
Call to Worship: Titus 3:4-7
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (ESV)
Almighty God, High King of heaven, as we bow before you this morning we are in awe of you. We worship and adore you. You are the standard of perfection. All things are subject to you and are sustained by you. You are sovereign, all-powerful, all-knowing.
You are holy!
You judge perfectly, and carry out your will with infinite precision.
Yet with all your great power, with all your incomprehensible attributes, you draw near to us and love us with perfect love.
We know that we are loved and accepted unconditionally because we are united to Christ by faith.
And you have told us in your word it all began with you.
That from before the foundation of the world you have loved your own with an everlasting love.
And because your holy and just wrath has been poured out on Jesus Christ on behalf of your people, your favor has now been turned upon us.
So we worship you this morning, and we thank you for giving us eyes to see your beauty, for hearts that love you, and for ears that can hear your voice through your word and by your Spirit. Amen.
The writer of our hymn, John M. Neale, led an incredibly productive life despite perpetual ill health. He had a great burden for improving social conditions of the neglected people of society. Neale’s gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842. His poor health kept him from regular pastoral church ministry. Neale instead spent 20 years of his life overseeing a ministry that cared for and educated poor men. He served the men faithfully and expanded the ministry to indigent women and orphans. He also founded one of the finest English training orders for nurses. This hymn celebrates the victory of Jesus over the grave and death itself.
Corporate Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:13
13 “You shall not murder. (ESV)
Loving God, giver of all life, you spoke life into us. You sustain our lives with your word. You rescued our lives with your precious Word, your son, Jesus. You breathed life into us with your mighty Spirit. And yet, somewhere deep inside us, we long to bring death. We confess that we bring it with our thoughts, our words, and our actions. We often view the people around us as obstacles or vehicles, instead of human beings to be loved. We breathe hate and discord from our lips and our keyboards. And we tacitly approve of a culture that instigates the killing of the most vulnerable among us. Would you please grant us a weighty love for bringing life to our world, relationships, and hearts. Empower us to be grateful for life and to seek it with all of our hearts. We repent of our love of self to the murder and neglect of all others. Help us to disciple people into life, because of the immense work found in the death of your son Jesus. In his name, and for his sake we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: : Psalm 103:8-12
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (ESV)
The wonderful promise we have in the gospel is that through faith in Christ we permanently have God’s favor and love.
Affirmation of Faith:
The Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 135. What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
A. The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.
Q. 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.
What Is an Idol? (Click here to link to the video of the Children’s Message)
(You may want to take a moment to pray with your child or children for your family, your church family, our country and world.)
Offertory: Deuteronomy 16:17
17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. (ESV)
May the Lord bless, multiply, and use each tithe and gift to display his glory and advance his kingdom.
(Online giving is now available for your convenience. This link, https://www.faithpresarp.org/give/, will take you to the page that explains this process and includes a button which will redirect you to the secured giving platform.
In the month of September, our focus will be Psalm 46. In introducing this psalm, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Happen what may, the Lord’s people are happy and secure, this is the doctrine of the Psalm, and it might, to help our memories, be called THE SONG OF HOLY CONFIDENCE, were it not that from the great reformer’s love to this soul-stirring hymn it will probably be best remembered as LUTHER’S PSALM. ” And in the words of Martin Luther, “We sing this Psalm to the praise of God, because God is with us, and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends his church and his word, against all fanatical spirits, against the gates of hell, against the implacable hatred of the devil, and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh and sin.” from The Treasury of David, by Charles Spurgeon, www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury.htm.
Pastoral Prayer: (Click here for the Pastoral Prayer)
Sermon: The Unknown, Made Known!
Josiah Conder was born in London, in 1789. He was a prolific author and publisher. He was also a very gifted hymn-book editor. In 1836, he edited The Congregational Hymn Book: a Supplement to Dr. Watts’s Psalms and Hymns. To this collection he contributed fifty-six of his own hymns. His finest hymns are marked by expressive language combining both force and beauty. This hymn reminds us that salvation is of the Lord and that “we were loved first by Him.”
Benediction (Click here to hear this week’s benediction)
Questions for Further Discussion
- What are modern idols in our culture? Are you bothered by the “idols” in your own life and in our culture?
- What is a worldview and what four questions does every philosophy of life need to answer?
- What method(s) would you use to reach the people around you who don’t know Jesus?
- Do you find yourself drawn to either an Epicurean or Stoic way of life? (“Foodie and Fun” versus “A Stiff Upper Lip”)
- How important was it for Paul to talk about the doctrines of: Creation, Judgment and Resurrection?
What Is an Idol?
What is an idol?
An idol is an image or representation of an object of worship. But an idol does not have to be a statue. Any person or thing that we love and devote time to, or think highly of (more than God) could be referred to as an idol.
Paul came to Athens, a rich city of 250,000 people, it was full of life and learning! Athens was named for Athena – goddess of wisdom and warriors – her statue was 38 feet high, and she sat atop the Acropolis, a high hill in the city.
Paul saw a BIG problem as he walked around the city – the Bible tells us in Acts 17:16 – 16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. (NIV)
Then in Acts 17:22-25, Paul said: 22 “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. (NIV)
So, just in case the people of Athens accidentally left out any gods to be worshiped, they made an altar “To an unknown God”.
They were worshiping what they did not know but he would tell them about the God that he knew. He wanted to tell them about the only true God.
Paul told them:
• God does not come from people. People can’t make God.
• People come from God.
• He told them to STOP worshiping idols and start worshiping the ONLY True Living God.
• He said that the resurrection of Jesus is God’s way of proving that Jesus is God the Son.
God is the only one worthy of our worship. We cannot think or act like any person or thing is more important than him, and we don’t make statues or images to help us worship God.
The Unknown God was made known to the people of Athens by Paul.
Do you know the One and Only True God? You can, by loving and believing in Jesus who died and rose again to give us eternal life.