October 07, 2021


My son, who is planting a church in a Northern Colorado city, intentionally took me for a walk through a sculpture garden recently that is located in a prominent spot in his large city. It was beautiful, convenient, and filled with people.

To my amazement, at every 30 yards or so, there was a stone statue. The whole garden was a prayer garden, and each statue was named. The farther we walked, the more I realized it was a garden designed to help you pray to ancestral spirits. This religion is called animism and is no different from the false religions we read of in the Scripture. Paul encountered this in Athens.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. And also, some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts 17:16-18)


"His spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols." (vs. 16)

Do idols provoke you? Most of us are no longer disturbed. Like the frog in the kettle, we are comfortable with demons and idols all around us. They do not trouble our spirit anymore. They are our entertainment. But that does not mean they are not present.

A serious-minded believer stays in such union with the Father that he recognizes false gods and is provoked, not in a harsh, condemning way, but in a broken-hearted way. And this provocation drives them to action.


"So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present … he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection." (vs. 17-18)

Notice Paul's immediate responses.

  • He reasoned in the synagogue (place of worship)
  • In the market place 
  • Every day (he did not let up)
  • With those who happened to be present. He was not particular, nor did he feel like he had to have some strategic plan related to a group of people. Everyone needed Jesus and whoever was present was the recipient of his message.


 His constant message was very clear and direct. It contained three primary points.

  1. You are seeking a God you don't know.
  • You are very religious.
  • I want to tell you about the unknown God that you're worshiping.
  1. Here is the God you're seeking.
  • He made the world and all things in it.
  • He is the Lord of heaven and earth/
  • He doesn't need anything since He Himself gives life, breath, and all things.
  • He made every nation from one man.
  • He determines our appointed times and boundaries.
  • He determined that we should seek Him, and He is not far from you.
  • In Him, we live, move, and exist.
  • But, he is not like gold, silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. (He's different from all the gods you worship)
  1. This God is going to judge the world and judge you.
  • He is calling you to repent,
  • Because He is going to judge the world one day,
  • Through Jesus, who was raised from the dead.


Some men joined him and believed. (vs. 34)

Some scoffed at him. Some persecuted him. But some believed, and it was for those and for God's reputation that he shared the gospel unceasingly.

Our task is no different. Is your spirit provoked by what is happening around you in our culture? What people are worshiping? The blatant attention we are giving false gods? Then you must lovingly, passionately, and unceasingly proclaim the truth about the one true God.

If you do, some will join you and believe.

Father, give us Your eyes to see what is really happening around us. Remind us that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood opponents, but spiritual wickedness in high places. And give us the courage to proclaim the good news found in our resurrected Lord.



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