Discussion Guide: The Best Is Yet To Come Week 15

PRAYER

Take the first few minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.

Today’s Discussion

This week we continue our series titled “The Best Is Yet To Come.” We will be walking through the book of Acts and looking at who Jesus has called us to be and what Jesus has called us to do in light of all that He has already done. As we study the descriptive history of the early church our hope is that these truths will move in our hearts to become a prescriptive call to go into all the world and be witnesses for Christ.

Discussion Questions

What would you say is the best part of American culture?

What would you say is the worst part of American culture?

Acts 17:22-23

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.

From what you know of 1st century Greece, how would you define the Greek culture?

How does Paul engage the Greeks within their cultural context?

Leader Notes

Paul was a Pharisee prior to his conversion to Christ, which means he was an expert in the Jewish Scriptures that we call the Old Testament. In much of the New Testament we see Paul preaching the Gospel by using the Old Testament Scriptures and references to God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, to these Greek philosophers Paul never mentions the Old Testament or any of the names or promises God made that were fulfilled in Christ. Instead, Paul connects with the Greeks at a starting point they can get on board with. Paul had seen firsthand the religiosity of these Greeks and their desire to worship the gods for what they could do for them. And when Paul sees the inscription to an “unknown god” he sees his connection point. The Greeks believed in the supernatural. They believed in their gods. They believed these gods had power and that these gods desired worship and sacrifice. So, Paul starts there and then leads them through their own cultural references like poets and religion to come to the knowledge of the One True God, and the Judge and Savior He had raised from the dead. Paul finds a cultural starting point where he could connect on a common truth for the purpose of taking that smaller truth and pointing the people to the One who is Truth.

What are some ineffective ways Christians have attempted to engage culture?

Acts 17:24-28

“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.’

One of the points from last Sunday’s sermon was that God has not
left himself without something implanted in each culture, no matter how broken it may be, to show that culture that He wants them to come near to Him.

What part of Greek culture did Paul believe God had implanted His Truth in?

Leader Notes

As mentioned briefly a few questions ago, Paul saw the Greek’s pursuit and desire for truth as the redeemable part of their culture. The Greeks were constantly debating the purpose of life, the power and place the gods had in their lives, and the way life should be lived, among other ideas. Well, since all truth is God’s truth, and since the questions these Greek philosophers were posing and pursuing were kind of like driving around in a cul-de-sac knowing the house you are looking for in one of the houses you keep passing, Paul saw his chance to give them the actual house number and point them in the direction of Ultimate Truth, which is  not just found in an idea or a philosophy, but in the person of Jesus the Christ.

How would you define the culture of Austin, TX?

In what part of Austin’s culture would you say God has implanted the Truth of the Gospel? In other words, though there are many broken aspects to the culture of Austin, what parts of our culture can we still find the Truth of God’s love and character?

Russell Moore, Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel

“To rail against the culture is to say to God that we are entitled to a better mission field than the one he has given us. At the same time, if we simply dissolve into the culture around us, or refuse to leave untroubled the questions the culture deems too sensitive to ask, we are not on mission at all.”

What would it look like for us to effectively engage our neighbors/city in that cultural context without compromising the Truth of the Gospel?

Acts 17:32-34

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.

These Greek philosophers were curious about Paul’s new theology until he started talking about resurrection and judgement, then they shut him down and threw him out.

Even though the Gospel is available to every culture, why do you think people in every culture take offense to the Gospel’s call to repentance? 

Leader Notes

If history has shown us anything, it has shown us the nature of humanity to elevate our own culture to the center of the world and to believe that our culture, our beliefs, our political views, our language, our clothing, our food, is the way the rest of the world should be. We all still struggle with the idea that we can be like God rather than worshipping the One True God. As such, when a message comes along telling us that we are wrong, that we are guilty of not getting it right, and that we stand in judgement and are in need of repenting and changing the way we live our lives, we rail agains the idea. If we are wrong, and if we stand in judgement, then that means there is a being and a culture that supersedes  us and ours. That means we can’t just treat other cultures and other peoples how we want to. It means there is accountability to way we behave and that also means we are not ultimately the ones in power.

If the resurrection of Christ is true, how would you say it bears weight on every culture simultaneously? 

If the resurrection of Christ is true, how would it bear weight on your life personally? In other words, what would it mean about how you live your life?

Closing Thought

How can we, as a Christian community, be more effective missionaries within the cultural context of our city? What would it take to get there?


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