top of page

Acts Weeks 7: THE STORY CONTINUES - LIVING ACTS NOW




We journey into the last week of our Acts series, and we begin to look at this passage, Acts 17:28-32 and ask the question, how does this passage and the end of the Acts series, apply to me as a Christ follower today?  We need to look at this especially how it talks about Paul speaking in Athens. Let’s read the passage again.


“In God we live, move, and exist. As some of your own poets said, ‘We are his offspring.’ “Therefore, as God’s offspring, we have no need to imagine that the divine being is like a gold, silver, or stone image made by human skill and thought. God overlooks ignorance of these things in times past, but now directs everyone everywhere to change their hearts and lives. This is because God has set a day when he intends to judge the world justly by a man he has appointed. God has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” When they heard about the resurrection from the dead, some began to ridicule Paul. However, others said, “We’ll hear from you about this again.” (1)


We first need to think about this story in Acts 17 and what makes this story so compelling to even talk about.  Paul at the end of 17 did something amazing in a place where multi-religious people were and he directed them to Jesus. Amazingly, several of them came to know who Jesus was in a place where other gods were quite visibly on display. What we can learn from this amazing experience truly comes down to what John Wesley would say is the “Almost Christian” versus the “Altogether Christian.”  It is something truly unique that we cannot miss ourselves.  Paul shares Christ in the context of history and how Christ is not only inside history but that God is also intertwined into our history.  Some would say Paul is showing the audience in Athens that God’s story is a part of their story as well. When Paul does this people go from marginalized of understanding who Christ is to fully accepting Christ. 


How do we make this applicable to today? The first thing is to focus on what it says in Acts 17:29-30, “Therefore, as God’s offspring, we have no need to imagine that the divine being is like a gold, silver, or stone images made by human skill and thought. God overlooks ignorance of these things in times past, but now directs everyone everywhere to change their hearts and lives.”   We are moving from created physical things to transformation. So if it is about hearts and lives being changed, then how would John Wesley write about this from his perspective?  We are looking at a true follower versus an almost follower. Wesley wrote these words in his sermon “The Almost Christian;”


“The right and true Christian faith is not only to believe that Holy Scripture and the articles of our faith are true, but also to have a sure trust and confidence to be saved from everlasting damnation by Christ’ – it is a ‘sure trust and confidence’ which a man hath in God ‘that by the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and he reconciled to the favour of God’ – ‘whereof doth follow a loving heart to obey his commandments.’


Now whosoever has this faith which ‘purifies the heart,’ by the power of God who dwelleth therein, from pride, anger, desire, ‘from all unrighteousness,’ ‘from all filthiness of flesh and spirit’; which fills it with love stronger than death both to God and to all mankind – love that doth the works of God, glorying to spend and to be spent for all men, and that endureth with joy, not only the reproach of Christ, the being mocked, despised, and hated of all men, but whatsoever the wisdom of God permits the malice of men or devils to inflict; whosoever has this faith, thus ‘working by love,’ is not almost only, but altogether a Christian.” [II.5-6] (2)


Do you see what Wesley is trying to say here?  If one purifies their hurt from unrighteousness, loves doing the work of God, finds joy in being mocked or hated for loving Christ and loving like Christ (working by love), that person is not almost only, but altogether a Christian. We are altogether a Christ follower.  We are filled with the Holy Spirit and to be used by the bidding of the Holy Spirit to do great things in the name of Jesus. This is fully living this Gospel lifestyle in the world today. We embody Christ in the Holy Spirit, and we need to ask this question: what does it mean to be a living act of the Holy Spirit in today’s world? 


Unfortunately, too many times, this is where we stop and do nothing. We stand at a crossroads and think that accepting and forget that the action goes along with the Holy Spirit that lives within us. This is the life of the altogether Christian, not just merely words but also action. A. W. Tozer says, 


“Too many times we stand dead still at a fork in the road, refusing to move and pleading for God to show us the way. But He is saying, ‘If you will just walk with Me, I will show you.’ The best way to find the will of God is to do the will of God. Mark Twain is alleged to have once said, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.’”


A living act of the Holy Spirit looks to engage with people just as Paul did in Acts 17. We seek to understand people’s history and traditions, hurts, and fears. We get to know people personally and get beyond a surface level of engagement. To fully live the Gospel life and a life that is a living act of the Holy Spirit, you have to have more than a surface level of interest in people’s lives. I will say that again because I need you to hear this, “To fully live the Gospel life and a life that is a living act of the Holy Spirit, you have to have more than a surface level of interest in people’s lives.”


People have amazing stories, they have traditions, cultural heritages, and wounds that sometimes the church has caused. We just need to pay attention.  Paul, in Acts 17, could talk about history and tradition to even people who would be enemies, and it was because he was an “altogether Christian.”  His love for Christ compelled him so much that he had to listen and had to act. 


“Mother Teresa was asked how she sustained her work of loving those ravaged with leprosy and living in abject poverty. How was it that day in and day out she mustered the courage and the perseverance to keep loving and serving those whom the world had forgotten?  As the story goes, she responded, ‘We do it to Jesus.’  She served Jesus by serving a woman with leprosy. She loved Jesus and the woman at the same time.”(3)


When we do this, we become the living act of the Holy Spirit in this world.  I leave you with this from John Wesley, “May we all thus experience what it is to be, not almost only; but altogether Christians; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus; knowing we have peace with God through Jesus Christ; rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; and having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us!”(11) Amen!


(1) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

(3) Tozer, A. W., and James L. Snyder. The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience. Bethany House, 2014, 219.


Discipleship Guide Week 7- The Story Continues- Living Acts Now
.docx
Download DOCX • 16KB

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page