Dr. Marc Drake, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Sun Lakes
A few years ago, it was my wonderful privilege to visit Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, where the apostle Paul had preached on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in Acts 17 that there were actually three different responses to his message. You might say he got mixed reviews!
First, some of the people mocked. They remind me of the self-professed atheist Richard Dawkins who has called the resurrection of Christ absurd. And yet Dawkins offers no proof whatsoever that it never happened – not even a modicum of evidence. On the other hand, the evidence is overwhelming that the resurrection did happen! But there were those in Paul’s day who jeered and simply laughed off his message. Why? Probably for the same reason people do so today: If they acknowledge an all-powerful risen Christ, they will also have to acknowledge their accountability to him! Still, like Dawkins, they cannot prove that Paul’s message was untrue.
Secondly, we are told that some of the listeners that day delayed. They said to Paul, “We will hear you again about this” (v.32). They didn’t mock or scoff. They just delayed. But it’s dangerous to delay. Satan will try to get folks to put off the most important decision they could ever make. It’s been said, “People who intend to repent at 12 often die at 11.” The only time one can count on is right now.
Thirdly, some of Paul’s listeners that day believed! Yes, there were those who had mocked the idea of a risen Christ. Others missed the risen Christ due to procrastination. But, thank God, there were those who met the risen Christ because they believed. To truly believe is to trust in Jesus, and in Him alone, for His forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. No one can save himself, regardless of how much good he does in this life. Sin separates us from God, but this is the very reason Jesus came – to pay our sin debt in full so we can go free!
The great hymn-writer Charles Wesley knew the indescribable joy of that moment when he believed. He wrote powerfully about it in his famous hymn, “And Can It Be.”
My chains fell off, My heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.
Well, the apostle Paul may have gotten mixed reviews on earth regarding his sermon on the resurrection. But heaven rejoiced. No mixed reviews there! For Paul was simply declaring the truth about the Savior. Believers today are privileged to do the same. Some may mock and others will delay. But there are those who are desperately waiting to know the truth. They are waiting for a witness. Could that witness be you?