Summary Acts 17:16-28
The Apostle Paul was in Athens. His spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him, and they wanted to know what Paul was teaching.
So, Paul talked with them about their objects of worship which he had observed, which included an altar with this inscription: “To the unknown god.” So, Paul said to them, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” And then he went on to tell them about God, our creator, who does not live in temples made by man, and who made us, and who is sovereign over our lives, even with regard to where we would live.
Full of Idols
And here I want to stop and examine this in light of our situation today with the church at large here in America. The American church at large (not every congregation) is full of idols, too. Most have incorporated as a non-profit business under the state, so they have partnered with the state (with the government) in an unholy union, which God forbids. And they have turned the gatherings of the church into a marketplace to be marketed to the world just like any other business, which God also forbids in his word.
For we are not to be unequally yoked (partnered) together with unbelievers. And the church, which is not a physical building but a spiritual building made up of those of us who are genuine followers of Jesus, is to be a house of prayer. She is not to be turned into a marketplace – a house of trade, a place of business. And if we are participating with this market-driven “church” which is not the true church, we are to come out from her midst and to be separate and God will be a Father to us, his sons and daughters.
[See: 2 Co 6:14-18; Matt 21:12-13; John 2:13-17; Rev 18:1-5]
I read a short article not long ago, author unknown, which talked about what happens when the church (the body of Christ) becomes a business. The author stated that these things take place: Pastors function like CEOs, members are turned into customers, other “churches” are seen as competitors, evangelism is reduced to marketing, church planting looks more like franchising, numbers are the primary measure of success, and the preaching sounds more like motivational talks.
Continued.. Prayer and Word study are replaced by formulas, and praise and worship is turned into performance with the best performers made worship leaders. The Spirit of God is reduced to emotionalism, the saints are entertained instead of equipped, disciples of Christ are really disciples of humans, the body of Christ has now become a lifeless body, a leader’s empire is built instead of the Kingdom of God advanced, the pastor becomes the super man, and Jesus Christ is reduced to just another religious figure.
And I can attest to the reality of this from my own personal experience of being in multiple “churches” over the span of most of my lifetime in five different US states and in ten US cities. And I didn’t just attend these “churches,” but I was an active participant and worker who ministered in many different ways – in music, in teaching, and in administration (not in authority over men) and as a church planter alongside my husband twice. So, I have been through their church planters training, too.
So, because the majority of the church in America has now been turned into businesses of men, most have altered the whole meaning of “church”, and thus the gatherings of the “church” are now gatherings open to the public which are being marketed to the people of the world and so they are being conformed to the standards and the interests of the people of the world. Thus, the gospel of Christ has also been altered to make it more appealing and acceptable to the people of the world and to human flesh.
Thus, what we commonly refer to as “the church” is not the church at all, although some genuine Christians may be among them. For they are man-created business (incorporated under the state) and they are designed to draw in large crowds of people from the world to add to their numbers and to build their earthly kingdoms. They are largely not about building God’s heavenly kingdom because they, more often than not, are actually working for men and not for God and against his kingdom and not for his kingdom.
And so what they end up doing is creating their own god and their own religion which is not the true God of the Scriptures, and which does not teach the true Jesus of the Scriptures, and which does not teach the true gospel of the Scriptures, either – perhaps only in part, but not in whole, and half-truths, especially when deliberate, are still lies. And they have captured the hearts of many people because their messages sound good, and so they make people feel good. But looks and sounds can be so deceiving.
Acts 17:29-31 ESV
“Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Now, in context, “being God’s offspring” has to do with being his creation. For it is God who made us human beings. And we read in Romans 1 that what can be known about God is plain to all of us, because God has shown it to us. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So if we suppress the truth about God (and his Word) via ungodly and unrighteous acts, then we are without excuse.
Therefore, we have no cause to think of God in any other way other than he has revealed to us humans. And especially if we have been brought up in the gatherings of the church, and if we have been taught the Scriptures, then we should definitely know better than to create our own god in our own minds after our own image. But that is exactly what many people are doing, and it is exactly what many pastors of these churches (the ICs) are doing. They are creating their own god and their own gospel after men, not God.
Now God commands all people everywhere to repent. And to repent is not merely to have any kind of change of mind. For the kind of change of mind that we are to have is that we are to turn away from our former lives of living in sin and for self and we are now to follow our Lord in obedience to his ways and to his commands (New Covenant). And we are to live holy and godly lives, for the glory of God, in his power and strength. And we are to no longer be those who are making sin and disobedience our practice.
For God has indeed fixed a day on which he will judge all of us in righteousness by Jesus Christ, who is God, and who is the Son of God, who gave his life up for us on a cross one day so that by faith in him we could be delivered from our slavery to sin and now walk in his righteousness, by the grace of God. So, if you profess faith in Christ, but then you continue to walk in sin, in deliberate and habitual sin, you will not inherit eternal life. But if, by the grace of God, you die with Christ to sin that you might live to him and to his righteousness, then you have the hope of eternal life with God.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
When in The Stillness
An Original Work / September 26, 2011
When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.
While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.
Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.
4 thoughts on “Are You Full of Idols?”
Sue, I think this is one of your best posts yet. You bring up points every believer, especially church leaders, should prayerfully consider.
Our ladies’ group is studying the book “Christianity and Liberalism” by J. Gresham Machen, a real eye-opener. Both it and this post make me think of the verse about the last days, when men will have “a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”
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Annie, thank you. Glory to God. Sadly, that is the reality in which we find ourselves right now with so many people having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. Your study with your ladies’ group sounds interesting. Thank you so much for reading and for responding and for your encouraging words and for sharing these thoughts with me. I always appreciate your insights.
Thanks, Sue. Feel free to stop by “Seeking Divine Perspective.” I posted something today about a different kind of idolatry, part 2 in a series.
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Thanks, Annie, I will check it out.