I observe that you are very religious in all respects...
Acts 17 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. 5 But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. 6 When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; 7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” 8 They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. 9 And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them…
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 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. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
When Jesus had been arrested and was being questioned by the Roman authorities, Luke 23:12-19 says: Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other. Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.” Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner. But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” He was one who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection made in the city, and for murder. In today’s text it says: And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. It’s amazing the alliances and partnerships that will form against Christ, His followers and the gospel. Herod and Pilate, the Jewish leaders choosing a murderer over Jesus, and again the Jews forming a mob with wicked men, all to oppose Christ and the gospel. Even today we see these types of alliances and partnerships formed against Christ. Those who oppose the expression of Christian values concerning sexuality, embrace and ally themselves with others who are even more opposed to them in regards to sexual behavior. Those who would eliminate prayer in the name of Jesus from our schools and public meetings embrace the expressions and even the promotion of other faiths. Throughout our nation and our cities we see mobs formed and uproars created, often in opposition to Jesus and Biblical values.
1 John 2:18-23 says: Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour… I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. It really is that simple, antichrist is not some future demonic leader bent on the destruction of the world. Antichrist is a spiritual mindset which denies that Jesus is the Christ and opposes the call and the commission He gave to His disciples to preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15), to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8) It shouldn’t surprise us then that those who deny and oppose Christ will work together with others who do also. Regardless of their differences they are unified in opposition to Jesus. Many people will say that they are anti-religion, that it is religion and religious people that they oppose. In truth though everyone is religious, atheism and agnosticism are religions. Religion is defined as: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. - a particular system of faith and worship. - a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance. P.E.T.A. is a religious group. Social activists, those who are activists regarding climate change, any person or group which ascribes supreme importance to their cause is or are religious.
In today’s text it says: So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things. Many people worship unknown gods. They worship in ignorance, like the crowds who were persuaded to oppose Jesus by the religious leaders, like those in Greece who wanted to be on the cutting edge of new philosophies and thinking, they are blindly religious, worshipping many unknown gods. In John 4:19-26 Jesus has an encounter with a Samaritan woman regarding worship: The woman said to Him, “ Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
There are many choices, many gods, many things to be religious about. No one can choose for another. More than influencing the choice of others, my hope is that everyone will know that not choosing is not a choice. Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, worship Him and God the father through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. Those who deny Jesus is the Christ, regardless of whatever else they believe, choose the spirit of antichrist.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, the Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for making Yourself known, through creation, through Your word, through the living example of Jesus Himself and through the Holy Spirit. May I live and speak not so as to coerce others to believe as I do, but rather as a light, illuminating the truth that they themselves must choose either to believe that Jesus is the Christ or to deny that He is. Amen.