Anyway, I just got back from the church picnic by a lake. Fun with slip'n'slides, a sailboat, and fellowship with friends (and acquaintances. Possibly enemies. But it's all for the joy of the day :)). Anyway, we were there from like 12 to 6. I also didn't touch a slip'n'slide or the lake. Until about 5:00. A friend and I went to other friends who were in the lake...but we decided to get right out afterward because...well, I'm not even sure. Anyway, it's a good thing that I did, because I ended up breaking a 'fight' between my sister and another guy. I got in between them to actually receive most of my sister's fist. Didn't hurt though, but she wasn't applying too much force to it. Most of the afternoon comprised of throwing around two different frisbees with a good amount of people. We were going to play Ultimate Frisbee, but...that didn't really work out. Either way, I had a few 'catches' that made myself and those standing around me going, "Uh...wow." (Mostly myself).
Anyhowseth, I want to post a little bit about the sermon from this morning. It came from Acts 17:30-34.
30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
I agree with my pastor on the fact that I love Paul's flow of logic here. The sermon could be described by one concept: If the resurrection is true, (which we know to be true) then judgment is a certainty; if judgment is a certainty, then repentance is a necessity.
I. If the Resurrection is true, then Judgment is certain.
Of course, I had already stated that. We do know the Resurrection to be true by several things:
1. The empty tomb. (It was recorded to be empty, and still is empty. Why? Because Jesus is in heaven right now as I type this.)
2. The testimonies of several hundred people that saw Him with their own eyes.
Bridging off of number two, these people that saw Him really turned. The Disciples, and other true Believers became very bold in their preaching and witnessing even to the point of public beating and humiliation. You don't simply go that far in holding up a lie. People came up with the idea that they 'stole' Jesus' body to cause even greater trouble for the Jews and the Romans. That is simply not the case.
Another thing is that about the people who 'repented' and did not 'repent'. For the most part, the main issue in unbelief is never intellectual, but always moral.
Paul really builds a strong, flawless logic approach to talking to these fellas. If you stop and think about it, what Paul's saying here makes real sense. The only logical response would be to turn and repent, because you can't argue with him on it. You can see that it's true. And if that is true, well...you have to repent, or suffer later. So the issue is more of a moral thing. People tend to agree with the train of thought. The problem is actually changing their morals and living more for God that's the problem. Sin and lustful cravings of the world seems far more easy and care-free then following God. And that's right...but the problem is that it is care free. When you reject God, you're really making a sad choice.
Three more things about the Judgment being a certainty:
1. A Certain Day.
Verse 31: "He has fixed a day".
Fixed implies certainty. And since God is the one fixing it, well, you know it's gonna happen. The issue is when that day actually is. But we don't even need to know. Paul is trying to imply that although Jesus will be merciful in His timing (Discussed in the last post) He won't delay forever. He will delay...but none of us know how long that is. So we need to get everything together with help from Him.
2. A Certain Standard.
Verse 31: "he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed".
What is Paul referring to when he says "in righteousness"? The Law. Yeah, that's right...The Ten Commandments. The man appointed was Jesus. Why? Because He is righteous. He kept all the commandments. He was righteous. So how can we be righteous? Do I mean keeping the law perfectly? You could try, but it ain't gonna work. From the first moment you appear on the earth, you're a sinner. I believe that in saying that, he's getting at the fact that believing in the righteous one and trusting in Him, since He is righteous, we become righteous. Now don't misunderstand me: WE won't be righteous. But we're COUNTED as righteous. Not by OUR works, but by his. He died on the cross in our place, making the perfect sacrifice. Unfortunately I think I just ran into the third number, but whatever. And in Jesus raising from the dead, our direction from Hell was turned. Because of His perfection, he transfers that 'code' over to us, giving us our undeserved salvation.
But what does that get us to?
II. If Judgment is Certain, then repentance is a NECESSITY.
I can't really make it any clearer. Scroll back up and reread verse 30. The command isn't just a helpful hint, "Hey, you should probably repent soon." it is a word of Authority. And NOW. The logic and doctrine is very sound here.
Paul saw three different responses:
1. The sneerers who started mocking his preaching.
2. The procrastinators. (And guys, Paul never, ever mentions going back to them, or telling us if they repented or got a second chance to. So you can procrastinate, but it may not be smart. I understand if it's just a timing thing...but if it's actually putting it off deliberately, there's something wrong with that. God does give second chances and is merciful, but time is of the essence.)
3. And finally, some did repent and fully believed, and some even came with and followed Paul on his journeys.
Here's the question, my friends: Which group do you find yourselves in? Which one do you want to be in???