"'The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for Him, as if He couldn't take care of Himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make Him. Starting from scratch, He made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find Him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; He's near. We live and move in Him, can't get away from Him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.' Well, if we're the God-created, it doesn't make a lot of sense to think we can hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?"' Acts 17:24-29 (The Message).
Spot on again, Paul!
Paul was speaking to people who thought they were "intellectuals", intelligent people who majored on thinking logically. Unfortunately, their logic did not take them any higher than human wisdom. They were unable, through their own reason, to figure out the existence of an unseen God who is Creator of everything. Yet Paul said, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that this is possible.
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- His eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20 (NIV).
How is it possible, for instance, that intelligent, logical-thinking, modern scientists, using all the sophisticated equipment they have to examine created things in minutest detail, can come up with the "conviction" that it all just "happened"? Could it be that the issue is not one of the mind but of the will? Is it basic dishonesty that refuses to "see" the work of the Creator, even though it can be clearly seen by the untrained eye?
Even David, a young shepherd, with neither microscope nor telescope, could say: "The heavens declare the glory of God; The skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; Night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language Where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, Their words to the ends of the world." Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV).
These Athenians at least began with the possibility that a God existed of whom they were vaguely aware, although they knew nothing about Him. They acknowledged Him with a shrine that was placed among all the other shrines, putting Him on a par with their man-made gods. It was up to Paul to set the record straight, which he did in a masterful way without attacking their error or putting them down for their foolishness.
Paul's modus operandi was to fill in the gaps in their understanding. He exploited their honest mistake by taking them from where they were to where they could be if they moved from logic to faith, from reason to revelation. The God they ignorantly acknowledged was unseen but real, not confined to a shrine but as near to them as their breath. They did not create Him; He created them. That meant that they were subject to Him, not Him at their beck and call. Even their own poets had somehow hit on the truth: 'We are His offspring.'
Unfortunately, right there is the parting of the ways. Those who refuse to give up their right to be right, deny the truth that God is Creator and that, therefore, the creature is accountable to Him. But that doesn't change the truth. That makes the stubborn creature doubly accountable -- for lying about God and for refusing to submit to Him.
So where do we stand? It all depends on how honest we are. We can side with the scientists who refuse to say, 'God is Creator,' or we can side with David who looked up at the night sky and marvelled at the intricate design of the God he had come to know and worship as his Shepherd.
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