Mission to Mars (Mars Hill that is)
What’s All This About Worldview?
What is a worldview, and why does it matter?
The simplest and best definition I’ve heard comes from apologist Ravi Zacharias.
It informs our opinions on things like abortion, human rights, war, taxation, ethics, religion – you name it.
In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul gives a master’s class in engaging worldview, without using the word .
If we are going to discuss The Gospel with anyone, the questions of Origin, Meaning, Morality & Destiny must come up, and we need to be sure we are speaking the same language as those we speak with.
That the words we use mean the same thing to each other.
And the very first place we need to go, if we are to have any meaningful conversation on these topics – is to define what we mean by the word and concept of GOD.
Paul knows he is speaking to at least 4 different groups, each of whom has a different world view, and therefore different notions of who and what GOD is – so that forms his jumping off point.
4 main groups – vs. 16-18 – The 4 are the 4 main worldviews outside of the Biblical Worldview.
All worldviews we encounter are forms of 1 of these 4. Paul is going to converse with all 4 at the same time.
Pagans: Many “gods” and relying upon superstition.
These “gods” were nothing more than powerful versions of fallen man with the same negative personality traits and passions as humanity. Think of Homer’s Illiad and other Greek Mythology.
The gods were just like the people but in a higher form of spiritual (as opposed to physical) existence.
They were Immortal, but they were also Petty. Jealous. Sexually active and bound. Vindictive. Capricious, prideful and downright immature.
Jews: God. One God. Some right notions of God, some not.
Psalm 50:16–21 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. 18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers. 19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. 20 You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. 21 These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
Epicureans / Epicurus (341-270 BC):
“God” in name only.
No actual involvement in the world.
Pleasure is the chief good.
Material universe is all there ever was, is and will be.
Worship makes no sense though some form of religion might be OK for giving people ethics and structure.
Stoics (Painted Porch) / Zeno (333-264 B.C. :
God is everything and everything is god.
“Steel your sensibilities, so that life shall hurt you as little as possible.”
Que sera sera
Everything (god too) is governed by fate
Pleasure is not good and pain is not evil
What is – is
End all desire
Pagans – Polytheists & Superstitionalists.
Jews – Monotheistic Religionists
Epicureans – Scientific atheists / Carl Sagan
Stoics – Pantheists / New Age – Hinduism – Moksha: Oneness with deity & all things
Paul was clearly trying to preach Christ and the resurrection (18) but was making little headway.
As his sermon following shows, Paul realizes he has to back up and start at some other place.
He picks the only point of commonality between all of these disparate groups: Each has some notion of God.
But God needs to be defined not through their pre-existing system, but Biblically.
What I want to do by means of this passage is to look at how Paul addresses worldview; to ask 5 crucial questions, and then look at 3 concluding observations.
- (24-31) Who & What is God?
NOTE: NOT EVERY WAY TO GOD IS VALID! The very fact that Paul starts here, negates the idea that we just leave people to their blindness. He does not leave them alone with their false notions of “god”. For they are still lost even though they may “worship” God in some way.
- 24 – Creator of the material universe.
- 24 – Lord – He actively rules in the affairs of men.
- 24 – Transcendent – He is not contained IN the universe and He is not the universe itself. Nor is he like man.
- 25- Self sustaining – He doesn’t NEED our praises or sacrifices.
- 25 – Sustaining all life.
- 26 – Not Tied to any specific race or region – not tribal. No room for “you’ve got your God and I’ve got mine.”
- 26 – Purposeful – not capricious.
- 26 – Sovereign over His creation. Ultimately unopposed.
- 27 – Seeking relationship – Not impersonal.
- 28 – Omnipresent. Can’t be located or managed.
- 29 – Incomparable – Cannot be “imaged” – by any creature or object – even man himself. Defies even our imagination! Not to be “pictured”.
- 30 – Patient – Not testy and irritable.
- 31 – Judge – Does not ignore morality. No Karma or Fate.
- 31 – Righteous – According to His own nature.
- Who & What is Man?
- 26 – Created being – Not accidental, nor merely part of the natural order or emerging from a purely material universe; Not self-made.
- 26 – Governed being – Not a totally “free” agent.
- 27 – Purposed – To seek and know the true God
- 30 – Morally responsible to God
- 30 – Separated – unreconciled to God
- 30 – Capable of knowing God
- 31 – Headed toward final judgment
Man was made to know God.
Made not only with the capacity to know Him, but set in an environment specifically designed to lead us to knowledge of Him.
But we refuse to live within the construct which was created for us, and for which we were created.
We were made to be near Him and to reach out to Him easily.
But we do not. His image, shattered though it may be, can be seen in each one of us – He is not “far” from us – and still we make gods of gold, silver, stone and other art – after our imaginations.
Think: The new Emoji Bible. God must be reduced to an image.
How can it be?
We are SO fallen.
We can no longer find Him the way we were designed to.
It is here, the revelation of Jesus Christ must break in upon the soul – for in our corruption, even though it might be true that “in him we live and move and have our being” – yet we are still separated from him and doomed.
Hence, a day of judgment has been appointed – and that judgment is all wrapped up in Jesus Christ whom God has raised from the dead.
- What is their Relationship? (i.e. God and Man)
Lord / Subject
Sustainer / Dependent
Parent / Child
Authority / Rebellious
Judge / Guilty
- What does it matter?
31 – A FIXED day of judgment is to come – all men everywhere are called to repent.
- What can be done?
Reconciliation through repentance. Looking for mercy in face of the coming judgment.
A Wrong view of God
A Wrong view of Mankind
A Wrong view of the present Relationship between them
A Wrong view of Reconciliation (restoring the relationship)
A Wrong of view of what is needed – Sin needs dealt with!
Repent of Self-government and rebellion in the face of the One who made me for His purposes.
I need to able to face God’s RIGHTEOUS judgment.
This – culminates in expounding Jesus Christ.
Christ is Paul’s climax point, not his starting point. Too much ground needs to be cleared first.
It has been noted that these kinds of engagements in the Areopagus went for hours. All we have here is most likely Paul’s outline.
What we can tell is that he builds this foundation BEFORE he brings the discussion finally around to who Jesus is and what He has done.
- Our goal is not to make men merely religious, but to reconcile them to God in Jesus Christ: 2 Cor. 5.16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The goal is not to convince them to our point of view, but to reconcile them to God through Jesus Christ.
- We must not assume what anyone knows, but work from the ground up.
Some will find more common ground right away, others not – but we’ll be speaking the same language. 1 Cor. 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played?
8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?
9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.
10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning,
11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.
12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
If we must take such pains to be clear IN the Church, how much more outside of it?
- Note the manifest love of God for lost mankind.
His love is such that:
- He COMMANDS all men everywhere to repent, rather than leaving it to a choice they would never make.
Repent from what? Having such wrong views of God that they are alienated from Him even IN their religion!
And that they are responsible to this God, based upon His standard of righteousness, and not according to their own standard.
And to turn and serving the Living God in Christ Jesus:
1 Thessalonians 1:9–10 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you:
- turned to God from idols
- To serve the living and true God,
- 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
He commands ALL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE to repent.
This is not a Gospel for some exclusive group, but a Gospel to be preached to all, everywhere.