Acts 17:20 - "For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean."
When the apostle Paul stood on Mars' Hill surrounded by the brilliant minds of Athens, what was his message? What was his theme whenever he spoke? You should know the apostle well enough to answer, "the crucified and resurrected Christ." The writer of Acts sums it up in these words: "he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18b).
Do not follow those mocking atheists on Mars' Hill. Ask God for the strength to remove every obstacle that will prevent you from coming to Christ. For many years, large, jutting rocks at Hell Gate in New York Harbor proved a menace to shipping. They had to be removed, so they were blasted away by dynamite. Likewise, the stone of your unbelief, still placed before the Savior's grave, must also be rolled away. If you are to escape the terrors of the real hell's gate. For the safety of your soul, and your entire Christian life, you must know, as Paul reminds us, "the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10b). The Greek word he uses for "power" and the English word "dynamite" are closely related.
Another group of Paul's hearers on Mars' Hill were those who said, "We will hear you again about this" (Acts 17:32b). They postponed coming to terms with Christ. Are you one of these? You can be spiritually rich with the Easter promise, yet remain impoverished because of your hard heart. You hear the appeal for repentance and faith in Christ. The Spirit urges you to get right with your God. Nevertheless, you say, "Tomorrow! Next week! I will listen again next Sunday!" How do you know that you will? The average age of Americans today is 38 years. Many of you are 10, 20, even 30 years older. For those of you in your later years, these questions of the grave, the judgment, and eternity come with particular force.
Remember "now"—not next month or next year—"is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2b). You can spurn this grace once too often. Acts records, "So Paul went out from their midst" (Acts 17:33). Most of them may have never seen him again or heard the life-giving message he brought to them. Will this be the last Christian message you hear or read?
Still, others in in the apostle's audience were those who "joined him and believed" (Acts 17:34a). There on Mars' Hill, God's Spirit touched their hearts, and they were saved. As Easter Day in the ancient church was a time when converts confessed their faith, so, too, may this coming Easter be a day of resurrection faith in the Lord Jesus Christ's triumphant victory over the grave for each one of us.
Those who came to faith in Athens many centuries ago placed their trust on the blood of Jesus Christ—the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (see John 1:29).
Let us do the same.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to wash us clean from our sins. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "Christ Lives—and We Shall Live," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Walter A. Maier, the first Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Do you ever discuss religion with your friends as a group? How is that experience?
2. How far-fetched do you think Paul's ideas sounded to those in Athens?
3. Do you enjoy talking to others about the Christian faith and religion in general? Does the conversation get a little touchy at times?
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