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The Resurrection Of Jesus Is A Faith Pivot

Acts 17:32-34
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, 'We want to hear you again on this subject.' At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. (NIVUK)

A pivot point is the place around which things change. Paul's address to the senate of the Areopagus was welcomed as great philosophy (Acts 17:19-20) until he spoke about Jesus, whose resurrection authenticates His role as the Judge of all rebellious people. It was at that point that opinion divided.

Some lost their rational thought processes: they seemed incapable of asking questions, as they usually would. Their hearts took over; they rebelled internally against the suggestion that Jesus is alive and, one day, will weigh each person's rebellion. Others played for time and as the session was brought to a halt they claimed to want to hear more at some other time; but we do not know if they ever did.

Some people did believe and were initially discipled by Paul, including one of the Council members. As in other cities, some of the prominent women also believed, but there is no mention of a church being formed or that believers regularly met together. It may be that his team (Silas and Timothy) has not yet arrived to support the ministry (Acts 18:5), and indeed he soon travelled on to Corinth, arriving there alone.

Was Paul's ministry in Athens a failure? The Bible does not use that kind of language. The evangelist’s job is to present gospel truth and seek to persuade people of its credibility, while the Holy Spirit convicts their hearts so that they might repent and receive Christ. God never fails, but hearts either soften or harden at the resurrection pivot-point. Unbelieving philosophers are happy to debate theoretically about God: but once the message becomes personal some will sneer while others wriggle – and some are saved. The pivot-point is Jesus, raised from the dead after His crucifixion; now alive to return as the judge of all. Strangely, many believers avoid talking about Him. But the gospel is always personal; and God is always commanding us to repent. So talk about Jesus and His resurrection, His Lordship and His appointment as Judge and King (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Some may sneer, some may be uneasy, but some will be saved.

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You that He is alive; loving and strong to bless people who repent, and not quick to be angry with rebellious people. Forgive me for so diluting any expression of my faith that the people who know me well do not actually understand what the gospel is. Please give me the courage to say what is true about Jesus so that some will be saved, even though others do not want to know. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams