I am reading in Acts 17 (ESV). Paul was in Thessalonica at the Jewish synagogue reasoning with the Jews regarding Jesus Christ, their Messiah, telling them that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead. And some of the Jews were persuaded to believe in Jesus.
But the Jews who did not believe were jealous, so they took some wicked men and formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and they attacked the house of a man named Jason, but they couldn’t find Paul and Silas. And then Paul and Silas were sent away to Berea for their own safety.
In Berea they faced a different situation. There the people listened to them, they received the word with eagerness, and the people examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul and Silas were teaching was the truth. Therefore, many of them believed in Jesus.
Yet, word got back to the Jews in Thessalonica regarding what was taking place in Berea, so they came to Berea, agitating and stirring up the crowds. So, Paul was sent to Athens, and Silas and Timothy remained in Berea until they could rejoin Paul.
While Paul was in Athens, he was grieved in his spirit regarding all the idolatry he found there. So, there also he reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue and with the people in the marketplace. He taught them about God who created us and how God is completely sovereign over our lives.
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.”
God, in our own thinking
And this speaks to us today, as well. We should not think of God in ways that are formed in our human minds. We can’t put God into our molds. He is not like us. We did not create him. He created us. We can’t make up our own god in our own minds and think that he is God, our creator.
But this is what many people are doing today. They are creating their own god in their own imaginations and they are assigning to God character traits which are not his. They are, thus, believing in “another Jesus” and a “different gospel,” created in human minds and not of the Scriptures.
So, how do we know who God is? Well, for one, God has shown to us who he is: “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” (Rom 1:20). So, we are without excuse.
So, it isn’t that humans don’t know who God is but that many of them suppress the truth of who he is by their own unrighteous deeds. So, they don’t honor God for who he is, and they don’t give him thanks, but they become futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts are darkened.
They end up choosing their man-made gods over the One True God, which then leads them into all sorts of sinful behaviors. And this is exactly what is happening in today’s modern churches. For they are teaching that God does not require repentance, obedience, or submission to him as Lord.
Today’s adulterated gospel, thus, gives its adherents free license to continue living in sin without guilt and with no need for remorse. And then they wonder why the world is in the mess that it is in. It is because professers of faith in Jesus Christ are living no different from the unbelieving world.
But now He commands
So, Paul was teaching the true gospel, correct? And this was after Jesus had died on a cross, risen from the dead, ascended back to heaven and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers and to teach them all things and to remind them of all that Jesus had taught them.
He said that God now commands all people everywhere to repent. And the word “repent” is not a mere change of mind, but it is a change of mind resulting in a change of action (behavior). It is dying with Christ to sin and being raised with him to newness of life in him, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:17-24; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17).
Therefore, we no longer walk (in conduct, in practice) according to our sinful flesh, but we now walk (in lifestyle, in action) in accord with the Holy Spirit of God. For we died to sin, so how can we live in it any longer. For Jesus delivered us from our slavery to sin so we would be slaves of him and of his righteousness.
So, if we continue living in sin, we do not have eternal life with God no matter what we profess with our lips. If sin is what we practice, and if righteousness is not what we practice, then we will die in our sins. For Jesus is going to judge us all by our works (deeds) (Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
Back to the top
When Paul taught these truths about the gospel, about repentance, about obedience to God’s commands, about making righteousness our practice vs. making sin our practice, and about God’s (Jesus’) judgments, he had some people who believed him who then put their faith in Jesus Christ.
But Paul also had many people, mostly Jews, who treated him like they treated Jesus Christ. They hounded him, falsely accused him, tried to trip him up with his words, attacked him, beat him, left him for dead, and falsely imprisoned him for long periods of time, and who turned other people against him, too.
We, too, if we are true to the Scriptures (in context) and to the gospel of Jesus Christ (the whole counsel of God), and if we are teaching the gospel as Paul and the other apostles taught it, and as Jesus taught it, we will face similar or the same kinds of treatment as what they faced back then.
We will be called all sorts of names, people will reject us, they will abandon us, and they will turn against us, and even turn others against us, too. And as time progresses, it is going to get much worse. If we are paying attention, we can see where things are headed. And it grieves us.
We are also grieved by so many people being deceived, so many buying into the lies, so many being led astray by clever enchanters in their deceitful scheming, and so many professing faith in Jesus Christ, convinced they are going to heaven when they die while they are still in bondage to sin.
So, we pray for our loved ones and for professing Christians and for the people of this world who are walking in darkness to have their blinded eyes opened so that they will be turned from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they will receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18).
And one day all this will be over. All that is going on in the world presently will be history. Jesus will return to judge and to take his followers to be with him for eternity, and sorrow, pain and crying will be no more, for He will wipe the tears away from our eyes. Amen!
When I Go Home
By G. M. Eldridge
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” Revelation 21:4
In the moment He appears
And the light from heaven shines,
I’ll forget ev’ry fear,
Ev’ry pain I’ll leave behind.
Then I’ll see Him as He is
And I’ll know Him as I’m known.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
Ever present is the tho’t
That a moment waits for me
When unworthy as I am,
His glory I will see.
I will empty all my praise
Before my Father’s throne.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
If the trial I endure,
And your presence I can’t find,
Be near me, Lord, I pray,
Bring back unto my mind
That your promises are firm
And I’m never on my own.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
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