So lets take a look at how Paul approached the free thinkers of His day, we find him in a place where questions were not only allowed but encouraged. A place where a open dialogue about the nature of God and the created universe was explored and point of view openly challenged. In a few hundred years Paul would no longer recognize the gentile church he founded almost single handily, a church were descent was discouraged and one interpretive model ruled. Much like I am sad to say occurs in many christian circles today, all based on the fear that to think incorrectly about God is far more dangerous to your eternal soul then the life you actually live.
(NASB) 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.
We see here Paul does not start with the idea that these people do not care for God or for seeking after God, in fact they go overboard in their zeal to discover God. Also we see that Paul does not start his conversation at the fall of mankind or that these God seekers are dead spiritually.
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.
Paul commends them for being so honest in their seeking after God and the admission that they might not know everything there is to now about God or who God is. They in fact admit that in the information they do not posses, The real God just might in fact exist. Do not hear the disrespect we so often hear in fundamentalist circles in Paul’s voice he doesn’t think these people have NOTHING to say about God!
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;
Here Paul keeps it simple and teaches there is one God, who doesn’t dwell in any temple which I would assume also means the Jewish Temple as well. There is no statement of superiority here just a stating of the facts, that there is only one God far above all the traditions of men.
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,
Paul here does not disparage the nations of the earth but rather says it was God who established their diversity in the first place. You see Paul did believe the nation Israel was chosen but they were never the only ones, just a instrument of God’s blessing to the world. It is amazing that people can so quickly go in their thinking from chosen to serve to frozen for preservation.
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;
Wow did you get that God has not abandoned others because he has chosen some, in fact they have done the best they could do with what they had. Do you see there is no condemnation here in Paul’s words, not to mention no mention of their destiny in a place called Hell? In fact can I let you in a little secret Paul in all his messages as he birthed the gentile church here in the Book of Acts NEVER mentions hell ONE TIME.
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.’
Here Paul clearly teaches that we are all the children of God according to the will of God, some being deeper in understanding then others. Here Paul uses as he does through this entire Gospel message the word WE not us and you but WE.
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.
Wow do you see that talk about a presuppositional statement “Being the the children of God” the problem here is not are they children but rather their God is way to small. Much like the Jesus of Fundamentalism who comes to earth to rescue us but in the end plays second fiddle to The Devil and Hell. A Hell never taught by Paul, can I tell you another fact not only did Paul never use the word Hell as He was recorded by Luke in the Book of Acts, He never used it in all his epistles. Then and can you believe this Paul does not quote from the bible but rather quotes something inspirational from a non biblical poet. Try that Pastor from behind your pulpit someday on a Sunday morning quoting a non christian source about the nature of God. Here Paul clearly implies there is truth to be know about God, revelation you might say outside of the 66 writes of the Bible.
30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
Now here is a word much misused in the church Repent, which doesn’t mean to be sorry for your sins and except Jesus as your personal savior. It means to change your mind about the small God who you can control with your religion. It means when you are a honest seeker of God you will be called upon to “change your mind” about what you thought you knew about an infinite God. Can I say it here that many people utterly convinced of a Hell and the viscous God of the dark ages need to repent. They need to “change their minds” to be renewed and rediscover the Father God of Jesus Christ, and the fullness of that revelation.
31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judgethe world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all menby raising Him from the dead.”
This is the day when all our deeds will be judged according to love by the lover of all souls, judgment is not a bad thing but rather a fair process where by we will finally be known as we are known by God. A Judgment where God through Christ shall make the first last and the last first, a judgment were God through Christ shall remember our sins no more. A judgment were everything wIll be put on the table and made plain, so that all is surrender to Jesus the Christ as Lord. Then shall Christ return unto the Father a purged and beautiful creation with humanity in it’s full identity, where death shall be destroyed and the wicked shall be no more.
C. I. Scofield wrote, “In his [Paul’s] writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.” (Scofield Reference Bible, Ephesians 3:6,).
So as we seek for the a Gospel message to share in this age we must abandon the one not taught by Paul but rather one taught by the cut and paste theology of The Hell teachers, which is indeed another gospel. If you can’t find it taught in a verse by verse manner in the scriptures then repent and find the Original Gospel delivered by Jesus to Paul personally.
I am “an apostle (not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)…,” (1:1). He said, “…the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came by revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1:11,12). “I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,” (1:16).
So repent that you preach a Gospel that has added Hell, replacing a loving God revealed in Christ to being saved from Hell as the power behind its message.
“Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:26,27).
“ Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (II Thessalonians 2:15).
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus”( II Timothy 1:13)
“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).