Acts 17: 22-34Written by kathleen on Oct 25, 2015 in - No Comments
The Babbler Speaks
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;
23 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.
Paul began his most polished presentation complete with good introduction, applicable illustrations, and a good order of thought. Yet this will be one of the most ineffective messages of Paul’s ministry.
Paul did not begin with the sharing of Scripture, which was his custom. (with gentiles he would start with creation; with Jews he would always begin with O.T. scripture)
Instead, Paul begins with general references to religion by saying In all things you are very religious: But when Paul says this he doesn’t necessarily mean it in a positive way.
Religion can lead a person away from God, and if you trust in a false religion, it doesn’t mean much as being “religious” and in most cases leaves one empty as they try to please the one they worship!
Although the Athenians had three thousand altars and temples in their city, worried that they might have missed or forgotten someone, they dedicated an altar to the Unknown God.
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 hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
This is going against what the Epicureans and the Stoics believed but Paul recognized that these philosophers had to change their ideas about God.
They had to move from their own personal opinions to an understanding of who God is according to what He tells us about Himself in the Bible
Paul begins by saying God is our Creator. “The Unknown God is the God who made everything,” “He’s too big for any temple or any carved altar no matter how beautiful or impressive it might appear.”
He goes on to say God is our Provider we are not His provider.
James 1:17-18 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Any implication that God needs our money or anything else to keep from going under is completely untrue! God needs nothing.
However, we need to tithe, for if we don’t give the way the Bible instructs us to, we will become a selfish, materialistic, and very unlike what the Father has planned for us. The Father is a giver. He loves us so much He gave the ultimate gift when He gave His Son (John 3:16).
26 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;
Dan 2:20-22 Daniel answered and said: 20 “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. 21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.
Paul goes on to say that God is our Father and we all come from the same blood line (Adam) which would challenge the Athenians because they thought they were better than all of mankind;
Paul goes on to say God put within all of us that yearning to worship and we try to substitute many things to fulfill that emptiness within us. But only God can fill that real thirst for worship in your life.
Jesus said if you thirst come to Me and drink. Not only will you be satisfied. Your life will become like an overflowing cup. Out of your innermost being there will flow rivers of living water.
Paul’s purpose in all of this is that they should seek after God, and their searching for him is like groping in the dark for something and; that they would finally find him; and then gives them a hint: though he is not far from any one of us
Rom 10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
Paul then quotes a poet by the name of Epimendes. 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.‘(Aratus)
So many times we lose that consciousness of God, that if we could only remember; that in Him we live, we move, and we have our being. Then we would be a lot more careful about how we respond; or what we say, or what we do. That consciousness of God in itself should be our stimulus for true holiness.
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.
Our responsibility is to God because we are His offspring. Since we are His offspring, we are responsible to have right ideas about God, and must reject the wrong idea that gold or silver or stone could represent God and not have idols made of such things. (Priorities)
30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,
Creator, Provider, Ruler, Father God is our Savior. Paul said “Previously in & by His grace” “He overlooked your ignorance and He winked at (did not punish) your idolatry.”
Here is where many people make a big mistake. Because God is not judging them or chastening them, they think they’re getting away with the sin in which they’re involved. What they fail to factor in however is the longsuffering of God.
We make a critical error whenever we mistake the patience of God for apathy or impotence. As Paul said, “God has been gracious. But now is the time to repent to change your mind and to change your direction.”
THE REASON FOR THIS COMMAND IS VERSE:
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.”
In John’s Gospel, Jesus said John 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, Therefore, Jesus is “that man” to whom Paul referred,
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. He understands what you’re going through and the battles you are in.
IT MAY BE ASKED! How will God judge the aborigine in Australia who never knew the gospel? Or How will He judge the one in the jungle who never heard of Jesus? Or How can He judge the guy in south America who was never exposed to the plan of salvation?
I don’t know! But the Bible says in Rom 1:19-20 Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
The Bible tells us He will judge righteously, fairly, and perfectly. On the Day of Judgment no one will be able to say, “Unfair!” On the contrary, Revelation 16:7 says all will bow and say, “Righteous and true are your judgments O Lord”
The Bible also teaches that the Day of Judgment is comprised of two parts: judgment of believers and judgment of unbelievers.
Judgment of Believers
The next event on God’s timeline is the Rapture of the Church—when the Lord will come for we who believe and escort us to heaven, where we will spend a seven-year period with Him. During that time, we will stand before Jesus at the judgment seat of Christ according to 2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Understand that the judgment seat of Christ is not a place where we will be judged for our sins; for every flaw and failure, every sin and shortcoming was paid for on Calvary.
God says about our sin that it is forgiven “as far as the east is from the west.” If He had said, “as far as the north is from the south,” we’d be in trouble, since there are places where north is only one step away from south.
If I were to go as far north as possible—to the North Pole—with the next step I took, I would be going south. Not so with east and west. You can circle the globe, going east indefinitely and never arrive at “west.” And such is God’s forgivness.
The judgment seat of Christ is not a place where we will be judged for our sins, but where we will be rewarded for the things we’ve done in the name and love for God.
It is the place where all of our works will pass through a purifying fire. The things we did with the right motives—not to glorify self, but because we loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him; those will be like gold, silver, and precious stones, purified by fire.
But those things that were done for other motives will, like wood, hay, and stubble will burn up.
The gold, silver, and precious stones that make it through the fire will determine the crowns we receive.
The Bible names five such crowns: those of righteousness, witnessing, serving, overcoming adversity, and resisting temptation.
Right now you might be thinking “Why would I want a crown?” “Who cares about walking around heaven with a crown on my head? I’m not really into crowns. They’re not my style.”
Here’s the thing: these crowns are not mere ornaments in which to look good. No, they are what will determine your capacity to enjoy heaven and will be laid at the feet of Jesus one day.
You see, just as the stars in the sky have different intensities, so, too, our capacity to enjoy heaven will vary greatly according to 1Corinthians 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
You might be thinking “I thought everyone will be completely happy in heaven,” They will, but the potential for happiness will differ.
A thimble and a barrel, when filled to the brim, are both considered completely full. However, the difference in their capacities determines the difference in their volume of filling.
Paul understood that the crowns he would receive would be significant in relation to eternity;
So he said 1 Cor 9:24-26Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
Judgment of Unbelievers
Following the seven-year-period we as believers will share with the Lord, we will return to earth, where we will rule and reign with Him for one thousand years.
At the end of that thousand-year period, there will be another judgment, called the Great White Throne Judgment, where unbelievers will come before the Lord.
Many at the Great White Throne Judgment will probably say,
“Okay, so I didn’t believe in Jesus. But I was a lot better than most Christians I knew. I was a member of this group or I did these things and I even gave blood faithfully and was a good person morally.”
Then, the books will be opened—and then all of the deeds, motives, and hidden aspects of their lives will be revealed. Every thought they’ve ever had, every deed they’ve ever done, things they’ve long ago forgotten, stuff they were never even aware of will be brought to light.
You see, if you’re not a born again believer in Jesus Christ and you stand at the Great White Throne, saying, “I’m a pretty good person,” the Father will simply say, “Let’s open the books.” And the Judge, Jesus Christ, will look upon you and wait to hear from you as you attempt to defend yourself.
But no excuse will come to your mind; no defense will come to your lips because you will finally understand the extent of your sin.
At that point you will at last realize that you’re not a good person, for although you may have polished up the outside, and learned how to behave externally in a way that impresses people, at the Great White Throne, your heart will be exposed.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”
Some will always mock. They mocked Noah for one hundred years. But when judgment came, they missed the boat. Today the same mockery is happening.
2 Peter 3:3-7 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
…and others said, We will hear you again of this matter. It’s a very dangerous thing to say “tomorrow.” The Bible warns about a hardening of the heart that takes place in people who say, “Later.”
If you are a believer; if you have already responded to the Lord regarding your salvation—when you hear His voice calling you to do certain things or change certain attitudes, respond immediately. If the challenge comes concerning your salvation; It’s a dangerous thing to say, “I’ll think about it.”
33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Even though Paul gave an incredibly polished sermon, only a couple of people believed; possibly because he never mentioned the crucifixion of Christ, or even the name of Jesus trying to be careful that he was relatable philosophically and relevant culturally. What ever the reason the result was very few believed.
Today in the relevant church movement so much of the truth of the Bible is left out concerning the salvation of Jesus Christ.
For example; sin is not identified or talked about even though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; and that with salvation there is to be repentance of sinful thoughts, words, and actions that are not pleasing to the Lord; and then the choice to live a life of holiness.
You see the Bible says in 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold; all things have become new.
God makes the changes and we get to do them because we love Him
From Athens, Paul went to Corinth, and in his letter to the Corinthians, he explains how he came to them.