Mostly parents talk more than once … that is, to their children when the children are disobedient. Very few parents want to use discipline, especially an immediate hiding. I have done it, my wife has done it and everyone other parent with few exceptions has done it. Our child does something wrong, be it naughtiness in a mild form or plain disrespectful disobedience … and our response is to firstly ignore, then to speak gently … with increasing fervor until we explode and take to the belt. What I am pointing to is that all too often God overlooked man’ rebellion and sin … but His mercy shall run out as a Divine Parent and the consequences shall be far worse than mans’ feeble attempt as parents to control and discipline their children. Keep this illustration in mind as we shall only get to verse 30 tomorrow. Please read:
Ac 17:28 “‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”
1) Life without God’s provision is impossible.
Ac 17:28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
Even in our reformed persuasion it would be wrong to assume that God is not concerned about the masses of people on earth who don’t know Him or don’t care for Him. As pointed out earlier, God provides for the unrighteous (unsaved) and the righteous (saved):
Mt 5:45 He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
The one who believes he or she is self-sufficient and not needing God is so wrong. But then, most of us were like that until the Holy Spirit enabled us to understand, believe and accept the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. As the people of God we need to remember that trusting God for our everything brings Him glory and honor … and this is the chief end of man. Notice the three concepts in verse 28 …
(c) Have our being.
Paul uses a pantheistic sense of God, common to the Greeks as a means to open a way to reveal the True God to them. As an aside, this was not and is not Pauline Theology. In his apologetic approach to Christianity, he used their “belief” to show that One God is the cause of every aspect of life and without this God, no life can exist.
2) Life is provided for because of God’s Divine parenthood. He goes further to win their confidence and trust saying:
Ac 17:28 “As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring.”
He quotes from two pagan poets. The first in verse 28 is attributed to the poet Epimenides the Cretan (600 BC?) and the later in verse 29 to a Cilician named Aratus (310 BC). In both poems, the god Zeus is mentioned, but not as the ruler of the traditional pantheon of gods … rather as the supreme being of Greek philosophy. Again … Paul was not saying Zeus was a real god, he was using quotes from poems these men were familiar with. He knew their literature and was using it to his evangelistic advantage. In no way was he saying Zeus was a god or was the Christian God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Rather he was building his case to present the Gospel. What his strategy informs us as believers, is that we ought to be more knowledgeable of those religions around us. Many other religions know something about the Bible, the Gospel or the Lord Jesus. What they know might be twisted or wrong, but they know something. Mostly Christians are ignorant of other faiths and what they believe. As mentioned before, purchasing a good book on “World Religions” or “Sects and Cults” written by credible Christians could help one to gain such knowledge.
3) Life is possible because God is not a man-crafted idol. Now Paul starts to shift towards who his God really is. He says:
Ac 17:29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill.”
Notice how he moves from the poets’ god’s “offspring” to the “offspring of God”. Grabbing the moment he declares that this unknown God is “the divine”. He speaks of the singular … and this God is not an image crafted by man. Look at this sentence … “an image made by man’s design and skill”.
(i) Image means a mark or something carved or sculptured.
(ii) Man’s design refers to creating “plastic art”.
(iii) Man’s skill refers to man’s imagination.
Paul carefully, yet gloriously shows that the True God is not part of man’s sinful imagination that his hands have carved into nothing more than a plastic piece of art … something that will not last! He started slowly, gaining their ears to the point of declaring exactly what their idols were … nothing more than art created by man … meaningless, dead, worthless statues. Thinking of them, yet applying it to religions in our day … this is idolatrous and demon worship. The same Greek words are used elsewhere in the New Testament and I share these that we grasp the magnitude of idolatry.
(1) Mark – image.
Rev 13:16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Whatever these marks might mean, physical, literal, emotional or spiritual … all those who are against Jesus and His Gospel are marked as the devil’s … and will be found as such on that Day of Reckoning.
(2) Art – design.
Rev 18:22 The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again.
These musicians would be those who serenade the pagan gods … the demonic idols. They shall cease! No trades will exist … because no blacksmiths will make idolatrous images. The same applies to sculptors making statues! No idolatrous statues and images for the musicians to serenade!
(3) Skill – imagination. Who knows your thoughts? Who knows the thoughts and ideas in the mind of the blacksmith, artist and sculptor? God knows!
Mt 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?
Our Lord knows exactly who assist His rejection by crafting idols to replace Him. But He is not idle when it comes to idols:
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
They shall give an account to God for their sin … and be punished. We shall also give an account … and be declared not guilty and pardoned because Jesus Blood cleanses us of all sin and guilt!
O God, thank You that those in Christ have been delivered from the wicked claws of the enemy of the soul. Thank You Holy Spirit for drawing us irresistibly to faith through grace. Amen.