Over the past month or so, the Christian blogosphere has been dealing back and forth with contextualization. Many of the “emergent” churches hold Acts 17 as their reason for changing their This slideshow could not be started. Try refreshing the page or viewing it in another browser. Now, I’m no theologian. It’s all Greek to me, so to speak! But the passages I include here [from The Complete Jewish Bible] do not cause me to see any change in what or how Paul preached. He still preached Christ crucified and resurrected. [see 17:18, 31, 32]. He spoke in love to a people who were lost, telling them of the Savior. This is the difference I see: Paul made brief reference to the community’s ways/beliefs to point to Scripture. Acts 17:15-34 (CJB) 17:15 The very sight of the idols disturbed Paul. He was not looking for a way to accommodate their idols. As a matter of fact, later in the chapter, he will point out to them their ignorance of the Unknown God they have an idol for. 17:17 Notice that Paul did not ask the non-believers into the synagogue to hear him preach, but went out into the public to reach them. 17:18 Paul had a group of people who were prepared to listen to the truth about Christ. This did not mean all would be called to believe, but none would believe if Paul were not faithful to present the true gospel! 17:22 Notice how he lovingly points out the them the uselessness of their altar – how God does not need, nor desire, that? 17:26 Paul is pointing to portions of their society that have affirmed God. 17:30 Notice that Paul talks about both sin and judgment. He does not assume everyone understands their sin is unacceptable.
17:32 Resurrection was not a “popular” subject. Yet, Paul went there, knowing he could not preach the gospel without doing so. People were not going to be happy about his subject matter. But God! was still faithful to draw those He had called. Have a blessed day, and a worship-filled week!
Emergent churches make brief reference to Scripture to point to the community’s ways/beliefs.
Sha’ul’s escort went with him as far as Athens, then left with instructions for Sila and Timothy to come as quickly as they could.
While Sha’ul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit within him was disturbed at the sight of the city full of idols.
So he began holding discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and the “God-fearers,” and in the market square every day with the people who happened to be there.
Also a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers started meeting with him. Some asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others, because he proclaimed the Good News about Yeshua and the resurrection, said, “He sounds like a propagandist for foreign gods.”
They took and brought him before the High Council, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?
Some of the things we are hearing from you strike us as strange, and we would like to know what they mean.”
(All the Athenians and the foreigners living there used to spend their spare time talking or hearing about the latest intellectual fads.)
Sha’ul stood up in the Council meeting and said, “Men of Athens: I see how very religious you are in every way!
For as I was walking around, looking at your shrines, I even found an altar which had been inscribed, ‘To An Unknown God.’ So, the one whom you are already worshipping in ignorance-this is the one I proclaim to you.
“The God who made the universe and everything in it, and who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in man-made temples;
nor is he served by human hands, as if he lacked something; since it is he himself who gives life and breath and everything to everyone.
“From one man he made every nation living on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the limits of their territories and the periods when they would flourish.
God did this so that people would look for him and perhaps reach out and find him although in fact, he is not far from each one of us,
‘for in him we live and move and exist.’ Indeed, as some of the poets among you have said, ‘We are actually his children.’
So, since we are children of God, we shouldn’t suppose that God’s essence resembles gold, silver or stone shaped by human technique and imagination.
“In the past, God overlooked such ignorance; but now he is commanding all people everywhere to turn to him from their sins.
For he has set a Day when he will judge the inhabited world, and do it justly, by means of a man whom he has designated. And he has given public proof of it by resurrecting this man from the dead.”
At the mention of a resurrection of dead people, some began to scoff; while others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
So Sha’ul left the meeting.
But some men stayed with him and came to trust, including the High Council member Dionysius; there was also a woman named Damaris; and others came to trust along with them.
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Now, I’m no theologian. It’s all Greek to me, so to speak! But the passages I include here [from The Complete Jewish Bible] do not cause me to see any change in what or how Paul preached. He still preached Christ crucified and resurrected. [see 17:18, 31, 32]. He spoke in love to a people who were lost, telling them of the Savior.
This is the difference I see:
Paul made brief reference to the community’s ways/beliefs to point to Scripture.
Acts 17:15-34 (CJB)
The very sight of the idols disturbed Paul. He was not looking for a way to accommodate their idols. As a matter of fact, later in the chapter, he will point out to them their ignorance of the Unknown God they have an idol for.
Notice that Paul did not ask the non-believers into the synagogue to hear him preach, but went out into the public to reach them.
Paul had a group of people who were prepared to listen to the truth about Christ. This did not mean all would be called to believe, but none would believe if Paul were not faithful to present the true gospel!
Notice how he lovingly points out the them the uselessness of their altar – how God does not need, nor desire, that?
Paul is pointing to portions of their society that have affirmed God.
Notice that Paul talks about both sin and judgment. He does not assume everyone understands their sin is unacceptable.
Resurrection was not a “popular” subject. Yet, Paul went there, knowing he could not preach the gospel without doing so. People were not going to be happy about his subject matter. But God! was still faithful to draw those He had called.
Have a blessed day, and a worship-filled week!
For Christ did not send me [Paul] to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void. For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.
For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside” [Is. 29:14]
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the widsom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written,
“Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” [Jer. 9:23]
Back at the end of February, I received my copy of “The Complete Jewish Bible”. I am truly enjoying this translation of God’s Word. There are many nuances covered in the Introduction of the book, but one of the things that has truly moved me is David Stern’s writing about the Bible [Section III – Introduction]. In the section titled “The Messianic Community” [Introduction xix], he states:
The B’rit Hadashah [New Covenant] also describes formative events among the early Jewish and Gentile followers of Yeshua [Jesus] and explains how this new Messianic Community or “Church” is related to the Jewish people. Unlike much Christian theology, the B’rit Hadashah does not say that the Messianic Community replaces the Jews as God’s people. Nor does it say that the Messianic Community stands alongside the Jews as a second eternal people of God with a separate destiny and separate promises. Rather, the relationship is more complex: Gentiles are grafted as “wild olive branches” into a Jewish “cultivated olive tree” some of whose branches “fell off” but will one day be “grafted back into their own olive tree”, so that in the end, “all Israel will be saved.” [Rom 11:16-26] Thus the Jews are not, as many Christians think, and as many Jews fear, annihilated as a people by being “absorbed into the Church.” On the contrary, as Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] states — in the same passage as where he announces that God will make a New Covenant with the house of Isra’el and the house of Y’hudah [Judah] — the Jews remain God’s people forever, for as long as the sun, moon and stars give light to the earth. [Jer 31:31-37] But the Jews will become a people who honor the Messiah for whom they have hoped and waited so long: Yeshua. It is on this basis that unity will be restored between the Messianic Community and the Jewish people and the great schism finally healed.
He states elsewhere in the Introduction [xxxv – xxxvi ]:
The New Testament [Covenant] is a Jewish book. …For the Central figure of the new Testament, Yeshua the Messiah, was a Jew who was born into a Jewish family in Beit-Lechem, grew up among Jews in Natzeret, ministered to Jews in the Galil, and died and rose from the grave in the Jewish capital, Yerusalayim — all in Eretz-Yisra’el, the land God gave the Jewish people. …The New Testament was written entirely by Jews [Luke being, in all likelihood, a proselyte to Judaism]; and its message is directed “to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile.” [Rom. 1:16] …Indeed the main issue in the early Messianic Community — that is the “Church” – was not whether a Jew could believe in Yeshua, but whether a Gentile could become a Christian without converting to Judaism! [Act 15:1-29, Galatians in its entirety] …The Messiah’s vicarious atonement is rooted in the Jewish sacrificial system. [see especially Lev 17:11] …The Lord’s Supper is rooted in the Passover. Immersion is a Jewish practice. …The very concept of a Messiah is exclusively Jewish, and that Jewish Messiah taught that “salvation is from the Jews.: [John 4:22]
Mr. Stern’s point is that the Messianic Jew and the Gentile are at the same place — that Christianity is not an alien religion that must be “converted” to. His hope is to heal the split between those who see Christianity as a means to the end of Jewishness [non-Messianic Jews] and those who do not recognize that they have joined Israel, not replaced it, as God’s people.
I wish I could reproduce the entire Introduction for you to read! It is so interesting. I am currently CRAMming the book of Romans using this translation. I hope to be able to share through my postings as I learn.
We are becoming lazy in our Christianity. We would rather read the regurgitation of the ideas of others than go right to God’s word. That is not to say there are no good references – but don’t be drawn in because of the name or the reputation. Don’t look at everything you read and hear as if it is the gospel truth – UNLESS it is the Gospel Truth! Be careful, little eyes, what you see (what you see)!
Don’t just believe what you read from Wilkerson, Christianity Today, Beth Moore, Eldredge, and others. Just because a chapter is prefaced with a verse of Scripture does not mean it is Biblical. Cloaking things in Christian verbiage does not make it true. And the authors and thoughts they reference also need to be held to the truth.
Take time today to invest fifty-two minutes (download) to listen to this sermon by Mike Abendroth, pastor of Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, Mass.
It will “speak to you” by drawing you back to God’s word.
2008 is soon going to be upon us: a new year, a new start, a fresh slate. Many will make their list of resolutions for the new year – a quick way to clutter up that fresh slate in one fell swoop. We are never certain what the new year has in store for us. We hope for prosperity, health, love – and more. That is the happiness of the new year.
There is another “new” that is to be celebrated: one that I am praying will be experienced by many this coming year. That “new” is a newness of creation.
Romans 2:5-6 states:
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds..
Because of this fleshy, inborn, stubbornness, one needs to come to the mercy of a just God. God made a way for this to happen.
Romans 3:19 – 26 states:
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law; that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
So God provided Jesus Christ as a substitute for the death (wrath) sin has brought upon us. Having faith in Jesus Christ is the key to God’s righteousness being imputed (given as if it were yours, even though it isn’t!) to you.
Believe me, this IS good news! Okay, so how does that get me to a point where I can say to you that there is a “new” to be happy about this new year? Well, let me take you to one more piece of Scripture.
2Corinthians 5:17-18 states:
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation..
There is a site I’d like to urge you to look at. It will thoroughly explain what I’ve been trying to say here! It is from Pastor Erik Raymond’s blogsite and it is about this Free Gift of salvation.
May you be blessed this upcoming year. May old things pass away and new things come to those who believe.