Intro. Paul had been teaching the Athenians on Mars' Hill of the true and living God. The God that they had worshipped ignorantly. He was the true God, the Creator and sustainer of the universe. He told them that at one time God winked, or closed his eyes to man's ignorance, but now He has appointed a day in which all men will be judged by the One He has ordained and has assured men of this by raising Him from the dead. There were three types of responses to the message.
I. SOME MOCKED WHEN HE SPOKE OF THE RESURRECTION. IT WOULD SEEM THAT PAUL WAS NOT ABLE TO FINISH HIS MESSAGE. THE MENTION OF THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD WAS JUST TOO MUCH FOR SOME OF THEM. IT WAS LIKE ANOTHER MESSAGE OF PAUL'S THAT WAS INTERRUPTED BEFORE HE WAS ABLE TO COMPLETE IT. HIS MESSAGE TO THE JEWS FROM THE BALCONY OF THE ANTIONIO FORTRESS, THIS WAS INTERRUPTED WHEN PAUL MENTIONED THE WORD GENTILES.
A. Those that mocked were the pure humanists of the day.
1. Like the Sadducees they do not believe in spirits, angels, or the resurrection.
2. This life is all you have. They mock at the thought resurrection and of life after death, and a judgment to come.
3. They believe that we exist as the result of billions of fortuitous occurrences of accidental circumstances over a span of billions of years.
4. We were not created by God but evolved by chance.
5. Anything can evolve given sufficient time, they say, but I am sure they do not believe it.
6. In a limited way you can say that cars have evolved over the years, there is quite a difference between our luxury cars with air-conditioning, electric windows, and CD stereos, from the early Reo's or model-T Fords. Each advancement was not made by accident but by intelligent design. A human body is a billion times more complex than the fanciest car, yet when they try to deny intelligent design, it is ridiculous to the point of stupidity.
B. The problem is that they just do not believe in an all powerful God.
1. The Greek gods were too busy cavorting, and were not thought of as all powerful.
2. Their gods had the same weaknesses and flaws that are found in man, for their gods were the figment of man's imagination. And man imagined his god to be like himself; lustful, vengeful, jealous.
3. When Paul was addressing King Agrippa, he said, "Why should you think it a thing incredible, that God should raise the dead?"
4. The Prophet Jeremiah said:
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, [and] there is nothing too hard for thee:
5. Several years ago J.B. Phillips wrote a book titled, "Your God is Too small."
a. It is true that most of us carry our human limitations over to God, and thus our god is too small.
b. What seems easy for me, I fancy it must be easy for God.
c. What is difficult for me, I think must be difficult for God.
d. What is impossible for me, I am prone to think that it is impossible for God.
e. Jesus said of salvation, "With man it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."
II. THE SECOND RESPONSE WAS PROCRASTINATION.
A. Some people seem to live by the rule, "Never do today, what you can put off till tomorrow."
B. This is probably one of the most insidious of all responses.
1. People put off getting saved.
2. I believe that if Gallup would take a poll in hell, he would discover that the most common cause for a person being there is that they just put off their decision to accept Jesus Christ until it became too late.
3. When Paul had witnessed to the Roman judge Felix, Felix was visibly shaken and said to Paul, go your way for this time, when I have a more convenient day, I will call for you.
4. As is true with so many cases, that more convenient day never came.
C. The scripture stresses the urgency of the moment.
To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, [and] as [in] the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
1. God said to Noah,
My spirit shall not always strive with man,
2. In Proverbs God said:
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
3. It is a mistake to think that I can come to God any time I want. I can choose the time and place that I will surrender my life to Him.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:
And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
4. It is the height of arrogance to think that I control my destiny, and that I can come to God at my leisure.
5. Just who do I think I am, that the God who created the universe should wait on me?
III. THE THIRD RESPONSE WAS SOME CLAVE UNTO HIM AND BELIEVED.
A. There were those who believed the words of Paul and were saved.
B. I think of the parable of the sower and the types of soil upon which the seed fell.
1. It is impractical to think that all who hear will immediately accept.
2. Here we see different types of soil demonstrated.
3. It is the same word that has the power to save, some hear and are saved, some hear and are lost.
C. Among those who accepted was a man by the name of Dionysius who is described as an Aeropagite. The Aeropagus was made up of about 30 men. Dionysius was then one of the aristocratic intellectuals of Athens.
D. The other named believer was Damaris. This is a female name. In the Greek culture a proper woman would not be at a public gathering. It is quite possible that she was from the lower social class.
E. The gospel has an appeal to all classes of people.
F. Those who believe know that only a fool would reject the gospel.
G. It is interesting that there is no mention of a church being established in Athens.