Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ashamed of the Gospel Chapter 7: Paul on Mars Hill


Many Christians believe that the apostle Paul's approach to outreach on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece is a classic example of how we should contextulize the gospel to the culture that we find ourselves in.  This then is the premise behind downplaying truths that offend the sensibilities of those who abhor the idea of hell, or exclusivity, or absolute truth, or creation.  These folks believe that since Paul quoted from Athenian poets he was then appreciating their point of view and adapting his message to fit their point of view.  However, in this chapter MacArthur shows us clearly that although Paul certainly appealed to the Athenians in terms they could understand using some of their vocabulary and he did so with tact so as not to unnecessarily offend them, he did not change or water down the clear and challenging message of truth in the least.  Paul was not impressed with their philosophy and did not want to immerse himself in it.  He was grieved by their idolatry and wanted to see them repent.  He used their altar to the unknown god as a perfect inroad to declare to them the true God of the Bible: the creator, sustainer, sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God who demanded their worship! He called them to repent in view of the fact that Christ had appointed a judge who had risen from the dead who would call them to account.  This is a bold message delivered in unmistakable and unequivocal terms.  Some mocked, some wanted to hear more, and some followed.  This is what God calls us to do: deliver his message in wise and tactful ways with the goal of being faithful to his message and the hope of seeing some follow Him!  Paul did not win over the city of Athens with his charm, but he did remain faithful to the gospel and he did plant seeds that yielded a harvest of souls through God's Spirit and power!  This is a great chapter and I hope many read it even if they don't read the whole book.  Spurgeon faced a radical departure for the plain teaching of the gospel in his day and saw many preachers that were formerly dissenters for the sake of the gospel seeking to gain more respectability by going back to sacrementalism. He decried this and was grieved by it.  

In days gone by, [preachers on the down-grade] aimed at being thought respectable, judicious, moderate, and learned, and, in consequence, they abandoned the Puritanic teaching with which they started, and toned down their doctrines. The spiritual life which had been the impelling cause of their dissent declined almost to death’s door.… Alas! Many are returning to the poisoned cups which drugged that declining generation.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Posted via email from Caleb's posterous

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