First, Paul is in Athens and called before an Athenian counsel in order that they might better understand what he has been teaching. Through these discussions it is obvious that one of Paul’s gifts is the ability to relate and connect to others. He was certainly “in the world,” but not “of the world.” He quoted Greek poets and referenced their monuments. It is this example that I think we need to better understand in our own walk. It’s important to find common ground without compromise. It takes wisdom, prayerful consideration and an intentional witness. I really think that a combination of an urgent message and a love for others enables us to connect in the same manner.
Secondly, the idea of God providing the judgement and Christ providing the justice as “the man he has appointed” and with “proof to this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” In fact, Paul’s post-conversion testimony is strongly anchored in this fundamental principal. In Romans 3:26, Paul writes of Christ becoming the sacrifice, so as to demonstrate his justice and ability to justify those with faith in Him. This is BIG! It’s as if Christ was sent to wrap His arms around us, protect us and take the punishment that we deserved. All to give evidence of His ability to justify us in return.
Finally, Pastor Beaty provided a great close to this teaching. He quoted from John Piper’s Desiring God. I have thought about this all afternoon. Pretty simple, (especially for Piper), yet extremely significant. He says:
“The wisdom of God has ordained a way
for the love of God to deliver us from the wrath of God
without compromising the justice of God”
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
Acts 17: 16-31
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 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 human 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 everyone by raising him from the dead.”