○ Welcome to Great Commission Church - so glad you all are here with us today
○ First Things First - my name is Michael and I am the Missions & Pastoral intern here at
○ This means that my wife and I are seeking after God & His will and are preparing to be
sent out from GCC to plant or revitalize a church so that much can be made of the name
○ It Could be down the road or around the world.
○ It Could be next year or it could be 10 years from now.
○ And maybe, just maybe, you will join us in this effort.
○ Pray for us, our marriage, our kids, pray for my qualifying, pray for the salvation of our
○ Now Our lead pastor, Trevor Davis, is on his ministry break but rest assured he will be
back in the pulpit next week!
○ Which means this is our last week in Acts in the First Things First series
○ If you would at this time though please join me in prayer
God, LORD of the universe, creator of everyone and everything, giver of life, author and perfector of
our faith, thank you for Your Word. Thank you for the Helper that indwells inside every believer enabling
us to understand. Thank you for Your Gospel, the good news of Christ Crucified. Save someone in this
room today. Give every believer a burden and boldness to bring you up as a First Thing just as Paul
did. Help us be receptive to what you have today. Enable me to get out of the way and preach as a
dying man to dying men. In Jesus name. Amen.
○ As we wrap up our First Things First series looking at sermon accounts in Acts I was
reminded of my early days in college
○ I came to the University of Memphis in 2008 and didn’t know a single person
○ And as I would meet people I would have the typical introductory college conversation
■ Who are you?
● Michael Caffee
■ Where are you from?
● Burkburnett, TX… Kind of - Military Kid so I’ve lived all over
■ What’s your major?
● At that time I said ‘Music Education’
■ What’s the goal with that?
● Graduate, move back to Texas, & Become a high school band director
■ Later on I would learn how true Proverbs 16:9 is ‘A man’s heart plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.’
■ You see after having this conversation over and over again for a year I met a blue
eyed girl named Melanie Rucker and having this conversation found, She from
Olive Branch but headed to New York to be an actress. God had other plans for
■ So with that in mind, going forward, I’ll enjoy the ride of His sovereign plan and
see where He takes us.
● Now in our scripture read earlier we see Paul going about his normal missionary activity of ‘first
○ As we investigate what was important for Paul to talk about First,
○ I think it is important for us to know a bit about our speaker before we process his
sermon to the people in Athens
○ Our introduction to Paul was not a great one. We knew him first as Saul.
○ Our introduction to Saul, was at the stoning of Stephen who was the first Christian Martyr
■ Martyr meaning someone murdered for their faith
○ Acts 7:58 captures that as the people went to stone Stephen, ‘the witnesses laid down
their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.’
○ In Acts chapter 8 verse 3 we continue to hear of Saul, ‘As for Saul, he made havoc of the
church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to
○ At one point Paul, formerly known as Saul, persecuted & hated the church. (Stoning of
Stephen Acts 7:58, Acts 8:1-3)
○ So if this Saul, prosecutor of the church, is Paul in our account from Acts 17 and is now
proclaiming Jesus what changed?
○ What happened
○ I mean to go from dragging men and women from their homes to pleading with Gentiles
to repent - something big happened
○ So let’s read the big thing
■ Acts 9:1-6 ‘Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of
the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues
of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or
women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
■ 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around
him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" 5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"
Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to
kick against the goads." 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do
You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and
you will be told what you must do."
■ The account continues with Paul going on to Damascus, and waiting. Eventually
God speaks to a believer, Ananias, and tells Ananias to go and care for Saul.
■ And Ananias is not down with that. He heard of Saul. he knew what Saul was up
■ But God had plans for Saul
■ Let’s continue in verse 15 ‘But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen
vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."
■ What a change! Saul had a direct encounter with Jesus, After His ascension to
the right hand of God!
■ And not only did Saul have an interaction with Jesus, God eventually revealed his
intentions for Saul were for him to be the chosen vessel to take the name of
Jesus to the Gentiles or non-jews.
■ That’s our second note
● Paul was God’s chosen vessel to take the Gospel to the Gentiles or
■ If you continue on in Acts you will learn Saul starts being called Paul in Acts 13.
■ And God begins to use Paul. And speak through Paul.
■ And by the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul, boldly proclaims the name of Jesus.
○ Now Paul’s journeys were not always easy.
■ Throughout Paul’s life as a missionary he would face continuous suffering in
order to proclaim the name of Jesus.
○ And this is actually what brought Paul to Athens in our passage.
○ Paul had been in Thessolonica, then was chased out of there, then went to Beroea, only
to have the Thessolonicans find out he was there and then come and chase him out of
○ This was much of Paul’s life while on mission for Jesus.
○ Now as he was chased out of Beroea and arrived in Athens where he would was to wait
for Silas & Timothy
○ And this is when Paul preaches his sermon - while he is waiting, well maybe not waiting.
○ A seemingly normal every day thing for us - to be waiting or going about normal activity.
○ And in this moment Paul takes the opportunity to note the society around him & proclaim
the good news of Jesus - just as God said he wounld.
○ Paul in this seemingly normal everyday moment, takes the opportunity to note the
society around and proclaim the good news of Jesus.
○ Paul had his first things conversation, first in the synagogue with Jews & God fearing
gentiles. Until he eventually drew a crowd.
○ And that crowd was very curious as to what he had to say.
○ You see Athens was a place of learning, of philosophy, of culture.
○ And they love learning something new - just so they could hear and know the latest &
○ Marshall in the Tyndale commentary on verse 21 of Acts 17 states
‘The Athenians themselves and visitors to the city were moved by sheer curiosity to hear something
new, and they had nothing better to do with their time than to enjoy intellectual titillation. Luke implies
that they were not greatly concerned about the truth of what they heard; His tone is distinctly sarcastic.’
-I. Howard Marshall
○ These people - not worried about the truth - just the fact that something was a new and
○ Specifically among these Athenian people of curiosity there are 2 main camps
■ The Epicureans - presented pleasure as being the chief end in life. (J.A.
Alexander) Epicureans also sought truth by means of personal experience and
not through reasoning. They were materialistic and atheists. (Warren Wiersbe)
■ The Stoics - marked by great moral earnestness and a high sense of duty. (J.A.
■ Can you see these camps today? I feel like all around us there are those pushing
us to believe the next personal truth based upon experience without anything
concrete to stand on. Or other groups just want us to try hard and be moral.
Without a basis for morality.
■ Many say to do what feels good for you at any point in time - just go for it
■ Warren Wiersbe summarises the two camps this way
‘The Epicureans said “Enjoy life!” and the Stoics said “Endure Life!” but it remained for Paul to explain
how they could enter into life through faith in God’s risen Son.’ -Warren Wiersbe
○ So let’s hear Paul’s presentation and plea now in Acts 17:22-31
○ “Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that
in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the
objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN
GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth,
does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as
though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has
made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has
determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they
should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He
is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also
some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Therefore, since we
are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver
or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance
God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has
appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He
has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
● Now my hope today is we walk away seeing Paul’s example of what he thought was of first
importance as he went about his life.
● And do likewise.
● So I want to practically digest Paul’s sermon.
● Paul’s sermon can be broken down into 4 parts.
● The 4 parts to Paul’s Gospel presentation to the Gentiles. (Make this a big list on the screen)
○ God is Creator
○ God is Provider
○ God is Ruler
○ God is Savior
● Let’s expand on this
○ God is Creator
■ **CHANGE** This is verse 24 ‘God, who made the world and everything in it,
since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with
■ To these very religious persons with their plethora of temples and idols
■ Explains the source of life and everything in the world
■ **CHANGE** Remember John 1:1-4 ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was
made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’
■ And he cannot be found in or bound to temples
■ Warren Weirsbe says of God & creation ‘He is not a distant God, divorced from
his creation, nor is He an imprisoned God, locked in creation.’
○ God is Provider
■ **CHANGE** Verse 25 ‘Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He
needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things’
■ We cannot give anything to God
■ We cannot build up God
■ We cannot encourage God
■ Quite the opposite really
■ Isaiah 42:5 articulates this idea and explains this well, it says ‘Thus says God the
Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the
earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, And
spirit to those who walk on it:’
■ You see the reality is God gives everything ‘life, breath, & all things’
■ And understanding this is quite contrary to how we live naturally - and how the
○ God is Ruler
■ **CHANGE** Verse 26-29 fall into this category ‘And He has made from one
blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has
determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so
that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find
Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move
and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also
His offspring.' 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to
think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by
art and man's devising’
■ God is the one who makes nations
■ God destroys nations
■ God determines who is in charge
■ And who gets voted out after 4 years ori for another 4
■ God is Lord over all
■ And we need to see this & know this - come what may
■ Whether our guy is out of office or in the office
■ God is in control
■ Daniel 4:34-35 relating to this has a helpful reflection from King nebuchadnezzar
“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my
understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and
honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And
His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth
are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And
among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him,
"What have You done?”
■ It is not our labor that will make America great or run it into the ground
■ It was not the effort of the Athenians in their religious idol worship to live & please
God or flourish as a society
■ It is all the hand of God
○ God is Savior
■ This is the conclusion or where Paul was going with his explanation of God as
Creator, God as Provider, & God as Ruler.
■ To get the Athenians to see the folly in their epicurean or stoic ways
■ And to see the one true God is near, and can be found, & this God has made a
way for them & us to have relationship with him.
○ Let’s read again Pauls plea: Acts 17:30-31 ‘truly, these times of ignorance God
overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has
appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He
has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.’
○ Now a question for you, a question for us, What are you going to do with this?
■ The time of ignorance is gone
■ We are without excuse
■ Creation is groaning for the return of King Jesus
■ I am confident that there are stoics and epicureans in this room right now.
● Living for today’s pleasure and as much of it as they can find.
● Living for the latest greatest way to live ‘on the right side of history’
according to facebook, twitter, instagram, or
● To be organized and appear to have it all together
● To have the perfect american dream life with the spouse, house, pet, &
■ But the one that God appointed will return! He will return soon
■ So now is the time to know Jesus.
■ So my question for you:
● Do you know God, the creator and sustainer of everyone and everything.
■ The one who created us, humanity, in his image, to be with him.
■ And yet because of our sin, our willing disobedience, our willing and continual
acts that fall short of the Glory of God - because of this we are separated from
■ Without hope
■ left to ourselves
■ We can’t fix our sin problem. Our lying, our stealing, our adultery, our idolatry.
■ We cannot fix it on our own.
■ Yet God - through His perfect plan
■ Foretold for centuries
■ Sent His one and only Son, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us
■ To live the life we couldn’t life - life without blemish - He was The spotless lamb of
God - Jesus Christ -
■ He was not deserving of death
■ But Bore God’s wrath - became sin for us
■ So that
■ Through His perfect and complete payment
■ Guaranteed through His resurrection
■ We, all who put their faith and trust in Jesus, are saved - perfectly - eternally
■ Not by our own works but by the person and work of Jesus
■ Have by the grace of God, right relationship with Him forever
○ Is this your story?
■ It can be today
■ Oh person unsure of their salvation
■ Person knowing they are lost
■ Trust in Jesus now - Repent, have a change of mind, turn from what you are
pursuing & pursue Christ!
■ Paul couldn’t help but speak of him regardless of the threats against him
■ Regardless of the mob chasing him out of town
■ And now in this moment I cannot help but plea with you
■ Have a Romans 10:9 moment now
● Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord
● Believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead
● And the promise from God - You will be saved
● Your life will be changed
● And you will join arms with other believers as we stumble toward glory &
proclaim this Good news until we die or Christ returns
● Oh God make someone your child now!
○ This proclamation, was Paul’s burden
○ Wherever he went
○ His first thing - was to proclaim the news of Jesus
○ He wouldn’t be distracted from the work God set up for him.
○ Paul didn’t come to Athens for great Business, for the high intellectual conversations
○ Paul came to share what was of first importance to him
■ **CHANGE**Just as he did in Corinth 1 Corinthians 15:3 says ‘For I delivered to
you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to
○ Matthew Henry said of Paul arriving in Athens ‘He has other work to mind: it is not the
improving of himself in their philosophy that he aims at, he has learned to call it a vain
thing, and is above it (Col. 2:8); his business is, in God's name, to correct their disorders
in religion, and to turn them from the service of idols, and of Satan in them, to the service
of the true and living God in Christ.’
○ So where are you arriving this week believer?
○ Where will you be waiting this week believer?nity to point people to Jesus?
○ Will you seize the opportu
○ Do you notice society around you and feel a burden to know the eternal soul of those
○ Picture this and try this week, as you go about your days - imagine a move marquee
above everyone’s head. And on that marquee it says ‘Destined for Hell’ - because that is
the state of every person who doesn’t know Jesus.
○ Be burdened for the lost
○ Recall Romans 10:12-15 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the
same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of
the Lord shall be saved." 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not
believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how
shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!"
○ Every week when we leave GCC - we are sent to proclaim as we go.
○ Sent to be ministers of the Gospel. All of us
○ And we cannot try to say we are not good enough. Realize First place sinner has been
claimed and is noted in the perfect inspired word of God:**CHANGE** 1 Timothy 1:15 ‘
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the
world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.’
○ That’s Paul speaking. The guy we just looked at a sermon of. So it doesn’t matter how
you came in here
○ What you did this week
○ Last month
○ 10 years ago
○ What matters is What Jesus did
○ And on that cross he died - his blood washing away all of our sins
○ And we know every one of them is gone
○ Because he rose victorious
○ So Remember these 2 things as you go: (leave both on screen)
■ 1 - What God made of first importance in Paul’s life we must make in ours.
■ 2 - As we go we must be burdened for the eternal state of those around us.
● Warren Weirsbe with the final word
○ ‘We still need witnesses who will invade the “halls of academe” and present Christ to
people who are wise in this world but ignorant of the true wisdom of the world to come.
“Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called” (1 Cor
1:26), but some are called, and God may use you to call them. Take the gospel to your