Thursday, October 16, 2014
Eternity discerned in humanity
Acts 17:26-29 "and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man."
Introduction and review Paul had his hands full by the time he arrived at Mars Hill. He faced a crowd of skeptics, cynics and thinkers who treated His message as nothing more than another intellectual oddity of first century life. The audience to which Paul preached was more so about finding fulfillment in this life and doing it all by themselves. Both the Epicureans and Stoics had worldviews that would correspond today to the atheism and agnosticism we see so prevalent in movies, books and culture. As Paul cleared his throat and began to preach, what came forth was a message that would express the Biblical message of God's eternal plan of salvation and glory. Eternity was brought forth front in center in Paul sermon.
Main point of application: As we think about the subject of eternity, I liken it to a simple diagram featuring the name of God and two arrows doing out in either direction:
Why did Paul focus on this theme of eternity in his message. The point of application for this post, and really this blog series is: It is important how you respond to eternity in this life. We saw in yesterday's post how creation declares the reality of eternity and the God Who is eternal and Who made this world. Today's post continues on by considering how eternity is discerned in humanity.
Eternity is discerned in humanity
Human beings owe their allegiance and existence to God. Passages such as Psalm 24:1 and 50:12 affirm the truth of such an obligation. God's Eternal power and presence is declared in creation, but we must also realize that it is discerned in the heart of human beings. Perhaps the clearest text in all of the Bible that speaks on this point is Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 "I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. 11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end." Why is it that human beings innately ask the big questions such as: "why is there something rather than nothing" and why is it that man by his very nature is a religious being? Because mankind is made in God's image. By being made in God's image, man has been designed to have fellowship and communion with God in his innermost being - the human spirit.
When Adam and Eve rebelled in the garden of Eden, they along with their posterity died spiritually and thus though having the capability of communing with God, mankind, apart from grace, has no ability, morally or otherwise, to personally relate to God. Mankind of course intuitively knows there is a God and thus knows "about God" (Romans 1:18-31). However in terms of "knowing God" on a personal level, such a relationship is impossible apart from salvation in Jesus Christ. The Bible's message is not just another religious book about another religious idea for a people in search of religion, rather it is God's revelation of Himself to a world that Has rejected Him and to His people saved by grace through faith in the revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ.
Mankind has been affected by sin, through and through, and can only be redeemed when the Holy Spirit through the Gospel brings Jesus to them to respond to His call to faith and repentance. (Romans 3:10-23; 4:3; 10:8-10)
As of this writing there are over 10,000 religions in this world that demonstrate the fact that mankind has interacted with God's general revelation of Himself in creation (recall what we discussed yesterday). Sadly what man does is take that knowledge (which is non-saving revelation) and twist it to his own liking. (Romans 1:18-31) All human beings innately know of two truths: there is a God and that I am a sinner. Religions have in common mankind's quest to somehow alleviate the guilt he feels every time he sins. The end result will be either the diminishing of God into some type of multiple god system or even no god at all, or the diminishing of sin as to being nothing more than a mistake or even an illusion.
Only the Gospel fills in the necessary third piece and only solution to mankind's plight - the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul states in Acts 17:26-29 "and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man."
Unlike all other religions, philosophies and attempts to reach up to God, the Gospel alone tells us that God reaches down to man through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. By the objective accomplishment of the event of salvation: the cross and empty tomb, sinners can be made right with God in saving faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) The pining for eternity that echoes in the empty heart of fallen man is brought home to roost as the Holy Spirit comes to indwell at saving faith. (Romans 8:16; 1 Cor 3:16) As one person as noted: salvation is where the very life of God comes to penetrate the human soul. Hence the eternity that is discerned by the fallen human heart to be real is brought down to man as a reality in salvation. It is important how you respond to eternity in this life.