16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
18 He also had a debate with some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. When he told them about Jesus and his resurrection, they said, “What’s this babbler trying to say with these strange ideas he’s picked up?” Others said, “He seems to be preaching about some foreign gods.”
19 Then they took him to the high council of the city.[a] “Come and tell us about this new teaching,” they said. 20 “You are saying some rather strange things, and we want to know what it’s all about.” 21 (It should be explained that all the Athenians as well as the foreigners in Athens seemed to spend all their time discussing the latest ideas.)
22 So Paul, standing before the council,[b] addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.
24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man[c] he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your[d] own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.
30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” 33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them, 34 but some joined him and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the council,[e] a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
I couldn’t help but realize who it was that accepted Paul and invited him in to tell them more about Jesus and what he has done. Of all the people, it was the philosophers. When he went to the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles they debated with him. They were not interested with what he was saying or what he had to tell them. All they wanted is a debate. With my experience of sharing Christ (or at least trying to share Christ) debating is not witnessing. Unfortunately I have learned this the hard way far too many times (more than I care to remember). For effective witnessing, the one who is being witnessed to has to be open to the Gospel message. They have to be broken. They have to have a need for the Gospel. They cannot be above it. Philosophers seek wisdom. If you seek wisdom you seek the truth. If you seek the truth you seek Christ because he is the way the truth and the life. And what He has to offer is so radical and new that these Greek philosphers were all over what Paul has to tell them. So what Paul does is that he goes into Camp Counselor mode.
On Paul’s way to campfire he needed to think of an object lesson. It just so happened that the Greeks provided him one with an altar that was titled “to an unknown god.” Pual thinks this is perfect! I’m gonna go with that.
The philosophers who really dictated the religion of Greece at the time were knowledgable enough at the time to realize that there was another god. They left room for THE God. Interrestingly enough Paul first turns to how God was calling the people of Greece first. He talks about nations rising and falling and how their boundries are determined by God himself. How he blesses them, but then they turn to other gods and then God, being the jelous God that he is makes those false gods fall by destroying the nation because every nation is held accountable to Him because God is Lord of ALL. Weather or not you are in a relationship with him or not we are all called to him especially today in Christ who was the atoning sacrifice for our sins. And with that sacrifice it is now Last Call. Because that same person who died and rose from the grave will be back to judge us all. And it is at that moment when Paul starts to talk about Christ death and ressurection and His return is when Paul gets laughed at by some. And still others want to hear more and they come to faith to Christ. So Paul left those who closed their openness to the Gospel message and continued to persue those who wanted to learn more and came to faith.
This account is very appropriate to us today. Many people today want to know the truth of Christ. However, they don’t know who He is or what he has done. As Christians we have the truth and we have the way and we have the life, and we get to share that with all those around us. We get to speak boldly about Christ and what he has done because God is calling all the nations to Him. He is calling us all away from our idols who cannot withstand God’s wrath and He is saying that He is the ONLY safe place. He alone is God. That is the message that our world longs to hear. However, the devil in all his power has been working hard to distort the Gospel message and our neighbors think they understand Christiantiy, but they don’t. They think that they are OK with what they have replaced for God in their life, but they do not truly know God. Therefore the only thing to call them to the faith is speaking boldly the Gospel message in accordance with the law. They must be shown that they are not safe where they currently stand.
Most people in America today believe that there is a god, but that he will not do anything to them as long as they live a good life. So as long as they do more good things than bad they believe that they will be alright. That is the message that Satan has distorted the message of Christ into. However that could not be farther from the truth. And for most that is the only message they have recieved about the Christian faith, but that is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. People need to hear the real Gospel message. That God has dismissed our ignorance, and has sent Christ to reveal to the world that He is God and He will set things in our broken world right (because our world is pretty messed up). And if we do not turn from our idols he will bring his wrath on us when Christ returns. With that Christ alone is our refuge and strength. In Christ all our debts are paid for. We are forgiven, we are safe, we are free, we have life. And that today is still a new message to bring to our world. Speak Christ boldly because many today think they know him, but they really do not.
Ok so that is all I got today. I don’t know how much of that makes sense because I am slightly sleep deprived today on my third cup of coffe this afternoon and have spent three hours at Starbucks and because of that I am not going to proofread this blog post. If there is anything anyone would like to add or call me out on please do! Until next time!