Rev. Trevor Johnston and Chadd Feyas
Sermon Series: Hand Off
Message 5: Easter Eggs & Rabbit Holes
- Say 1 Peter 3:15 from memory: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”
- What’s your favorite Easter candy?
- What are some modern Easter traditions that don’t really have much to do with the real reason for Easter?
- Why does our church have an Easter Egg Hunt, even though Easter eggs aren’t in the Bible and don’t actually have much to do with Jesus and the real reason for Easter?
- Read Acts 17:16-34: While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) // 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “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. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ // 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” // 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
- What questions or comments came to your mind as you read this passage? What do you notice about Paul’s “hand-off” to the Athenians?
- Various people need various things to help them open up to Jesus. Some need an experience, some need an example of an authentic loving Christ-follower, and some need an intellectual explanation. Many of the Athenians were in the last category. Which category were you in before you came to faith?
- What did John Stott mean by the expression “rabbit-hole Christian”?
- We learn three things through Paul’s hand-off here: The first one is, in order to hand off our faith, we need to Find ways to connect with non-Christians. Notice that Paul didn’t just hang out at the synagogue, but he also regularly went to the marketplace (verse 17). Where and how are you building genuine relationships with non-Christians?
- Notice in verse 16, that Paul was “greatly distressed” to see that the city was full of idols, because he had grown up with teaching like Exodus 20:4: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” Yet Acts 17:22 indicates that Paul praised the Athenians for being “very religious”. Why did Paul praise them? What was Paul doing here? What can we learn from this?
- The second thing we learn from Paul here is: Christian behavior comes after faith in Christ. Notice that Paul did not point out their ungodly behavior. Why is this principle important for us to remember as we hand-off our faith to those who don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus?
- J.D. Walt said, “Grace is so radical, it is willing to be mistaken as the affirmation of sin.” What did he mean by this?
- Notice the words “looked carefully” in Acts 17:23. Look through this passage and notice how Paul used things in the Athenians’ own culture to help them connect to the message of Jesus Christ. Why did he do this?
- The third principle we learn from Paul about how to hand off our faith effectively is: Look carefully for ways to connect them to Christ. Talk about some things you could use to connect the non-Christians you know to Jesus Christ.
- What was the most helpful idea from this message for you personally?