Saturday, December 24, 2022

2022.12.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 17:16–34

Read Acts 17:16–34

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Paul doing in Acts 17:16? What happened to him? Where did he go to reason first (Acts 17:17)? With whom? Where else did he reason? With whom? Who encounter him (Acts 17:18)? What does he preach to them? Where do they take him instead (Acts 17:19)? What do they request (Acts 17:19-20)? Why were they so interested (Acts 17:21)? What did Paul begin by observing around them (Acts 17:22)? What does he note as evidence (Acts 17:23)? What does he claim about the relationship of this unknown God to his own preaching? How does Paul identify this God in Acts 17:24? Where can’t He be contained (verse 24b)? How can’t He be worshiped/served (Acts 17:25a)? Why not (verse 25b)? From what has He made whom (Acts 17:26)? What has He appointed to them?

What is the message of the gospel in a place like Athens? Acts 17:16–34 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nineteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the message of the gospel is the same in every place: Christ crucified and risen. 

The same apostolic message. The message to Athenians is the same as to Jews: Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18, cf. Acts 17:2-3).

The best that they could do was knowing that there is One that they cannot know (Acts 17:23). They knew that He is from the things that were made (Acts 17:24a, cf. Romans 1:19–20). But because they had exchanged His glory for the lie, they were unable to arrive at a right knowledge of Him or worship of Him (Acts 17:24-25). Just as life and breath come from God, so also right worship can come only from God. He needs nothing; so, only what He commands is acceptable, since it depends upon Him.

They had multiplied idols from every nation. But each of these nations already owed their existence to the one true God (Acts 17:26). He had given them His image. He had assigned to them their time. He had assigned to them their location. And He had assigned to them their purpose: knowledge of Him (Acts 17:27a). He had even put that knowledge into them (Acts 17:27-28).

Man’s uniqueness in God’s image should have been a clue to them that man himself could not come up with an image of God (Acts 17:29). Nations had not been routinely destroyed for idolatry up until that point (Acts 17:30a). But with the message of the gospel going out, it is not only necessary that individuals repent and believe in Jesus, but that nations respond rightly to the gospel that is preached among them (Acts 17:30b). 

And there is coming a day when He Who has been judging nations through history will judge each individual in the cosmos by Jesus (Acts 17:31a). He has identified Jesus as the Righteous One by raising Him from the dead (verse 31b). 

The same grace-dependent response. At first, most of the responses seem to range only between mockery and willingness to give a second hearing (Acts 17:32). But apparently as he departs (Acts 17:33) it is then that the Spirit moves some to convert (Acts 17:34). The Lord is saving whom He will. None for whom Christ died can be lost!

Why were you made? How can you fulfill this purpose? How do you know Christ is the only way?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for creating us to know You and to worship You. Thank You for displaying the truth about yourself in the creation and giving us an inherent sense of it in our own hearts. But thank You most of all for giving Christ to atone for our idolatry, and to rise again as our righteousness, so that we may have hope in Him for the day of judgment. Grant unto us to believe in Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH417 “Jesus Shall Reign, Where’er the Sun” 

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