Truth, Foundation Stones, and a Fixed Point of Reference– Part 1

December 5, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

Over the last few weeks the folks of Grace Family Fellowship have been looking at Acts 17:22-31. This is a very cool passage where Paul addresses the philosophers and thinkers of Greece.

He is in Athens, a place that has a bunch of different religious shrines to all kinds of gods spread throughout the city. He sees that one of these shrines is dedicated to “An Unknown God” (it seems the Athenians wanted to make sure all there bases were covered). Paul takes this opportunity to share about his God.

In his words, we can discover several foundation stones of the Christian faith— foundation stones that are often overlooked or forgotten in our shrine-laden culture (even by Christians). It is important to ponder these stones because they are the source of Truth in our lives— Truth in a world where Truth is often lacking.

I was challenged by these ideas when I heard a message by Frank Peretti (author/speaker) on Focus on the Family about 10 years ago. I always thought that I would like to share these thoughts with others some day. Well, our church has been going through the Book of Acts for the last year and we have finally arrived at chapter 17.

So, here we are. I get to share Frank Peretti’s message with you!

The purpose of putting these messages into this blog is simply this: we need to think deeply about Paul’s words in Acts 17 and Peretti’s statements— we need to wrestle with these truths to discover the Truth. As you read, try to picture someone speaking this message. I’ve tried to include stage directions or visual descriptions of what was happening to help you understand what is going on.

So consider the following…

(there is a chair in front of the speaker)

What in the world is this chair all about?

I decided I would use this chair because it’s a nice illustration… What I am trying to explain to you is what I call “The Fixed Point of Reference…

All of us have encountered this particular issue.  I want to underline it because Christians have a particular, peculiar way of thinking. They have a particular, peculiar view of reality— that usually comes head to head with the way the world thinks.  And the more the world changes— the more the world buys into atheism, and relativism, and humanism, and all those other “isms” out there— the more conflict we have.

What I would like to do is equip us to understand why Christians think the way they do…  And where your worldview comes from— because everybody has a worldview.  They just don’t know it.  The “fixed point of reference”… Well what in the world is it?

Let’s imagine… imagine that I’m in a big, humongous, dark room.  It’s a featureless room— it doesn’t even have corners in it.  It has rounded walls.  And the whole point of that is I don’t know where I am.  And I’m feeling my way around in this room.  And I’m groping around trying to find my way around and then (bumps into chair)— oh, ah… what is this?  It’s a chair.  Yes!  It has legs and it has a seat and it has a back.  It’s a chair!  Ah, good…  Now I can sit here and, at least, I know where I am.  I’m in the chair.  It’s a good feeling.

Now I got this chair— (idea) it’s a home base.  Yeah.  I can navigate from this chair (navigation noises, as he carries chair with him).  I can kinda send out some feelers now…

Why are you people laughing?…  I’ll tell you why you’re laughing…  It doesn’t really have a lot to do with being a Christian, but it helps…  You realize— just naturally, automatically— you realize that no fixed point of reference is going to do you any good unless it has two factors:

#1) It has to be separate from you

#2) It can’t move

Soon as I pick it up and make it a part of my life, make it a part of my consciousness, make it a part of my mobility— it ain’t a fixed point of reference anymore!   I’ll never know where I am because the stupid thing moves!  Now as long as it stays right there by itself ahhh, now that’s security.

That’s one of the prime factors of navigation.  When you’re out on a sailboat, right, you’re out on the vast featureless, expansive ocean out there— and you have no idea where you are.  Well, one way to find out is you get your sextant out there and you shoot to the stars— you measure from the stars.  And the reason you can measure from the stars to figure out where you are is because the stars don’t move…  They’re fixed in space…  Now the earth moves and it makes it look like the stars move but we know all that stuff…  That’s a fixed point of reference…  Let’s go to Acts 17…

This is that passage in the Book of Acts when Paul the Apostle goes to Greece…  And he’s gonna talk to all these philosophers, and all these thinkers, and all these discussers, and debators there on a place called Mars Hill.  Now I gotta kinda set the stage for ya…

In Greece, that was kinda one of the ancient fountainheads of modern humanism and modern rationalism.  The idea that, “Man by himself with his own reason can discover truth.”  The Bible says that these guys spent there time in nothing other than learning a new thing. (Acts 17:21)  They were after knowledge; they were after truth.  They figured they could do it all with their heads.

And so they’re getting together…  and you’ve got Diabetes here, and Laryngitis here, and you’ve got all these other Greeks standing around— and there’s Coka bottle— and they’re all talking and they’re saying…  “Well what do you think?  What have you heard?  Well, I believe…  Well it’s my opinion…  I’ve always felt that…  Well I don’t know— I used to think that…”  It’s kinda like one long, continuous Larry King show.  And it kinda ends up the same way— because they spend all of their time talking, but they never really arrive at anything.

So, in the middle of all this, in comes this Jew— Paul the apostle— and he says,  “I have an idea.”…  And they say, “HEY!  Let’s hear what he has to say.”  So they stand him up there and they say “speak!”

Now this is where we come into the story and here’s the challenge— here’s the challenge for Paul…It’s easy when you’re an apostle and you’re traveling around and you want to share the gospel and prove that Jesus is the Messiah— Paul would always first go into a Jewish synagogue.  And he’d begin to argue from the scriptures that the Jews already had that Jesus was the Messiah— is the Messiah.  And he had a place to start because all the Jews sitting in the synagogue— basically they had all been to Sunday school.  They knew the language— they could kinda relate.  But the thing I want to underline for you— and this is something we all need to be thinking about…  There’s a whole world out there that hasn’t been to Sunday school. 

We, as Christians, have a kind of unique culture among ourselves.  We have a unique language…  We say things like—”Praise the Lord;   He is good;  Hallelujah;  The body of Christ”.

All these phrases we just throw around so easily…  If you just go up to someone on the street and say, “Pardon me”.


“Are you born again?”

“Ah yes… I have lived many lives…”

“No… What I meant is ‘are you washed in the blood’.”

“Man, I hope not! What are you talking about?!?”

Well Paul comes up against that very thing.  He can’t speak Christianese to them.  He can’t even speak good old fashioned Jewish.  Now there’s a whole lot in there (the passage from Acts 17)…

But I’m gonna skip right down to verse 24 of chapter 17 because I want to give you what I would like to define as:

“The Christian’s fixed-point of reference.”  

These are the foundation stones of the Christian worldview.  It’s the one that’s in the Bible, okay.  As a matter of fact, it’s the one upon which western society is founded.   It’s the one that contains all the basic assumptions by which we order our lives.  And you’ll find out what I mean…Let’s go down to verse 24— we got a lot of stuff here, but we’re gonna focus on this part. 

Here’s Paul, he’s addressing them… He wants to get down to the basics.  The REAL basics.

Verse 24, he says, “The God who made the world and everything in it…”

(Buzzer sound) Okay, we’ll stop right there…

The very first thing that Paul addresses is the big question of ORIGIN.

ORIGIN… We did we come from; how did get we here; why are we here?

Isn’t it funny that people wonder about those things?  The Greeks didn’t believe in the God of Israel, but they still wondered about those things.  They were still looking for answers and meaning…

I’ve got a dog.  His name is Sparky.  I don’t expect a lot of deep thoughts from Sparky.  He never wonders, “Where did I come from” or “Why am I here?”  All he wonders is, “are you going to pet me…am I gonna get a treat… I see a dog—I must bark now!”  The point I’m making is that those creatures out there— be they dogs or chickens or apes or porpoises— I don’t care how intelligent they are…  They are not— are you ready for the word— SELF-AWARE.

There is something unique about the human species…  He asks all these tough questions…  “Where did I come from?  Why are we here?”  Dogs never worry about “Why are we here?”

Man is SELF-AWARE…  He is a unique creature…  He is a person…  He is a person and because he is a person he asks the big questions.  Now of course you know I’m saying “he” generically— mankind.

Here’s these Greeks.  They’re asking these big questions.  This is one of those neat ways— logically— that you can figure out that God EXISTS and is a PERSON.

If God was an impersonal cosmic force— like New Agers try to make him out to be without a personality, just an energy— then it is impossible for the source of all things to somehow create people who have personalities and wonder where they came from.  The best he would be able to do— or “it” would be able to do— is create little sub-pockets of energy and we wouldn’t be here thinking about anything, we’d just be sitting here (sound) vibrating or something.

It’s kind of a betrayal of the atheist when he begins asking these big questions  because he’s proving he’s a person which means his source had to be a person too.  Which means the ultimate reality of the universe is personal not impersonal…

Paul answers that first big question… of ORIGEN…

And gives us our first two foundational principles for the Christian worldview:

1) God EXISTS and is a PERSON

2) God is the ORIGIN of all things—he made everything…  which means he made…  us

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