Acts 17:30-31 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
Introduction and review
We have been exploring Paul's sermon that he preached before a crowd of skeptical Athenian philosophers at Mars Hill in Acts 17. This particular sermon of Paul's is important due to the fact he deals with the subject of seeing God's eternal nature and Person demonstrated in this world.
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 moreso 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.
Main point of application: As we think about the subject of eternity, I point the reader 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 have seen thus far in the previous two posts that eternity is declared in creation and discerned in the heart of man. We will continue further by seeing evidence for God's existence as the Eternal, Personal Creator and Redeemer by noting how eternity is declared in the Bible.
Eternity is defined by the Bible
Notice what Luke writes about Paul's next statement in Acts 17:30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent". Notice the phrase: "God is now declaring". Presupposed in Paul's statement is the notion that the very God Whom He has been laboring to show as existing and personal in Eternity has the capability to speak and reveal His will to human beings. Furthermore, God is not only a talking God Who reveals His Deity in creation and in the human heart, but He is a God Who reveals Himself in written words.
Now at this point some readers may question the validity of what I just wrote. It is pretty clear that as a Christian I will claim that the Bible alone is worthy of the title: "Word of God". Many people today question this claim due to the fact that the Bible is not the only book that claims itself to be God's word or "Divinely inspired". It is only fair to ask: "how do you know that the Bible is God's Word, when other books make such a claim"?
Three simple tests can demonstrate whether or not a given document is divinely inspired: Accuracy in regards to history (Isaiah 41:21-22); Accuracy in regards to prophecy (Isaiah 41:23) and Ability to lead someone to salvation in Jesus Christ (Deut 13:12-15; Romans 10:1-8).
First, if a document claims Divine inspiration, then at bare minimum it ought to be reliable in regards to how it records history. The Book of Mormon for instance claims that Jesus made various appearances in America to specific tribes of Indians who were supposedly descended from Abraham and the Jews. However, there is not one shred of evidence historically, genetically or archaeologically to support the Book of Mormon's historical record. On the other hand the Bible's recording of historical events has been verified by dozens of archaeological and ancient manuscript excavations.
What about a document's ability to predict the future accurately? In having read through all of the major religious documents of major world religions, one can certainly find each of them claiming some level of divine inspiration. However when it comes to predictive fulfilled prophecy, the Bible alone evidences not just one or two examples, but dozens and hundreds. The Islamic holy book called the Quran has not one example off fulfilled prophecy, neither does the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Vedas, the writings of Buddha nor any other so-called relgious document. On the other hand we see Jesus for example predicting in detail in Matthew 24 the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its temple. That prediction came true some 40 years after the fact and is verified in the writings of Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus.
Then of course the third mark of divine inspiration would be that the given document is used by God to bring about the salvation of someone hearing it or reading it. Now think about what we have discussed in this blog series thus far: Eternity is declared in creation and discerned in humanity. With God's existence being firmly established in what we see in the general revelation of creation and the human heart, we then saw that this God is a God Who communicates. With the Bible alone demonstrating its Divine authority as historical reliable and prophetically accurate, then there can be no plausible reason to deny its authority on matters pertaining to salvation.
As the apostle Paul states in Acts 17:30 - "God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent", that message has been repeated by God throughout the Old Testament and is now being amplified in the writings of the New Testament and specified by the coming of Jesus Christ. To repent of something means I change my mind on how I view my sin and Jesus Christ. With the Bible being established to be uniquely qualified as the sole word of God in this world, then it stands to reason that if one believes eternity to be declared in the Bible, the matter of salvation must then be responded to, rendering such a person accountible to its message. As we have been saying this whole time in our series: "It is important how you respond to eternity in this life."