Gospel: These All Died in Faith: Rescue from Reasoning at Athens

As a boy of eight, I tramped the woods of central Iowa with my neighborhood friends pretending we were Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the Wild West. Coming upon a huge boulder, Jack Fisher shouted “Guys, Look! Let’s start digging, maybe we will find the missing link.” In my naivet, I thought his father had recently broken a log chain near that boulder. I dug with the rest not knowing what we were looking for. Later I understood that into young Jack’s mind had been instilled the hope of evolutionists to find transitional life forms in the fossil record to support their fragile theory. The Epicurean philosophy of the Greeks found in Acts 17 had its influence on school boys in 1963 and still holds sway in 2007.

Paul, a first time visitor to Athens in 51, toured the city to learn their culture, but what he found was nothing unusual. He would have seen the same thing today in Chicago, London, Moscow, or Beijing. What he saw, though, stirred his soul. He described three types of people in Athens: those zealous in their religion, businessmen in the marketplace, and academic elitists on campus. His heart bulging with passion, Paul first met with the religious in the synagogue, then preached on the street corner near the mall down town. His message was always the same – Jesus and the Resurrection.

Historians say the Greeks had created 30,000 gods by this time. Some were only mythical, but many were engraved in wood, bronze, silver, or gold. After thousands of attempts, they had failed to satisfy their deep longings for spiritual reality. Pointing at an altar with the inscription to the Unknown God, Paul pointed out that the recent events of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth had made God known.

God is Real: He created us; we cannot make Him in the form of an idol or an ideal. He determines the time and place of our birth, the purpose of our existence, the day of our death, and the appointed Day of Judgment.

God’s likeness is Replicated: Made in His image, we have a mind to think, a heart to love, and a will to choose.

God is Reachable: While not a pantheistic god of nature, He is very near to every one of us and accessible if we will search after Him.

God Raised Christ from the dead: Jesus, raised as a real Man after His redeeming death on our behalf, satisfied the righteous requirements of His Father, God.

God Requires our Repentance: Since God has visited mankind in the Lord Jesus, all former excuses of ignorance are removed. He now commands repentance.

The reaction to Paul’s sermon was varied. Some laughed out loud, reassuring themselves that time-and-space resurrection from the dead is implausible, therefore impossible. Some considered the issues, but waited for another chance. To Paul’s joy, a few, including Damaris, an honest, thinking woman, and Dionysius, a philosopher, faced the message, believed it, and received God’s salvation.

Through the gospel of Jesus and the resurrection, God can rescue you from a hopeless search for Him. Whether you have heard it once or a thousand times, have you ever faced it head on? Realize your need, change your mind, reach for and find Him, the answer to your deep longing after God.