Psalm 148:1-2, 11-end
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!
Acts 17:15, 22-18:1
Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and after receiving instructions to have Silas and Timothy join him as soon as possible, they left him.
22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God[j] and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,
“For we too are his offspring.”
29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’
32 When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ 33 At that point Paul left them. 34 But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
12 ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
The gospel never changes but the way we present it to others always needs to be relevant and culturally sensitive. In Athens Paul chose to use well known aspects of Greek culture as bridges to explaining the gospel to the Athenians. Everyone needs to experience the love and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. So, in Athens Paul chose to affirm the people for being religious and sought to relate the Good News about Jesus Christ to something that was already in their thoughts and their religious practice. Paul said to them:
‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”’
Paul firstly affirmed the people, but then he went on to speak out against the errors in their thinking:
‘“The God who made the world and everything in it, He who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.”’
The Athenians were right in understanding that there was a ‘god’ whom they did not know, but they were wrong in thinking that they could build that ‘god’ a dwelling place and that they could bring that unknown ‘god’ food, drink and other offerings to curry favour with him, her or it.
Paul explained that His God, the true, the one and only God was the God who had made all of creation, all of the nations and that He did not wish to remain distant and unknown to everyone. God the Father, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not far away and inaccessible for everyone. In fact, all of humanity has life and being because of God’s gift to each one of us. Paul said:
“In the one and only true God we live and move and have our being”
God is not distant to us, He is with us, and by His grace we can know His love for us and know His presence with us. And there is more, because of Jesus and all that He has done for us, we can be adopted into God’s family and as God’s children we can know God and His love for us on earth, and because Jesus was raised from the dead we can know that we will be raised up after death to go and be with God for eternity.
Was Jesus, and can we be raised from the dead?
Well, yes He was, and so can we!
Isn’t that all too good to be true?
Well some of the Athenians scoffed at the idea, but others wanted to hear more. Likewise today, some will sneer and make fun of the resurrection, whilst others will investigate Jesus’ claims and then some will go on to accept the Good News. The Good News is Jesus does love us, through Him we can be The Father’s children, there is space for all to praise God, Kings, Queens, princes, princesses, old and young, men and women, everyone is loved by God, Jesus has been raised from the dead, there is love and forgiveness for all!