“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” While the exact wording of that quote—attributed to seventeenth-century theologian Blaise Pascal—is up for debate, there’s no doubt that people continue to seek something or someone worthy of their worship.
The pursuit of the divine was illustrated by the Athenians and their pantheon of gods. When Paul was in Athens, “he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city” (Acts 17:16). In typical Paul fashion, he spoke of Jesus in the synagogue, the public square, and with the philosophers of the day (Acts 17:17-18). Eventually, his message attracted so much attention that he was taken before the high council (Acts 17:19).
Addressing the council, Paul said, “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious . . . for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. [One] had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. He is the God who made the world . . . . He himself gives life and breath to everything, [and] he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:22-28). Paul’s sermon elicited contempt from some. But others wanted to hear more, and some even became believers (Acts 17:32-34).
We’re not guaranteed a positive response to sharing the good news, but we don’t need to be discouraged, for God “uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:14). As we follow Paul’s example to make God known, may “our lives [be] a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God” (Acts 17:15).
Sin is a fundamental relationship— it is not wrong doing, but wrong being— it is deliberate and determined independence from God. The Christian faith bases everything on the extreme, self-confident nature of sin. Other faiths deal with sins— the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ confronted in people was the heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored this in our presentation of the gospel that the message of the gospel has lost its sting and its explosive power.
The revealed truth of the Bible is not that Jesus Christ took on Himself our fleshly sins, but that He took on Himself the heredity of sin that no man can even touch. God made His own Son “to be sin” that He might make the sinner into a saint. It is revealed throughout the Bible that our Lord took on Himself the sin of the world through identification with us, not through sympathy for us. He deliberately took on His own shoulders, and endured in His own body, the complete, cumulative sin of the human race. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us…” and by so doing He placed salvation for the entire human race solely on the basis of redemption. Jesus Christ reconciled the human race, putting it back to where God designed it to be. And now anyone can experience that reconciliation, being brought into oneness with God, on the basis of what our Lord has done on the cross.
A man cannot redeem himself— redemption is the work of God, and is absolutely finished and complete. And its application to individual people is a matter of their own individual action or response to it. A distinction must always be made between the revealed truth of redemption and the actual conscious experience of salvation in a person’s life.
Tell Me Again and Again
By: Daphne Delay, Author
Don’t be afraid of repetition. Paul said,
“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.” Philippians 3:1(NKJV). The New Living Translation says, “I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.”
Parents know this. Teachers know this. The Spirit of God knows this: repetition is good.
I have a friend who has said to me on more than one occasion, “Faith comes by hearing, not by having heard.” This is true. Just this morning I opened a podcast to listen to a teaching I’ve listened to at least a couple of times already. Why? Because I need to strengthen my faith in a particular area.
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
Notice faith comes first by hearing, but not just any hearing, it must be the Word of God we’re hearing. I won’t ask if you are a stubborn person—but in the past, I have been. My point is you don’t have to be stubborn or hard-headed to need repetition.
Paul felt it was important to remind the church in Philippi of things he had previously mentioned. First, he said,
“Delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that you are in Him.” Philippians 3:1 (AMP)
I will add a hearty Amen! It’s no secret the times we live in are growing increasingly evil. We aren’t exempt from the pressures of life, the temptations to throw in the towel, or the heartaches of personal tragedies. Yet despite all of these, we can rejoice. Life may try to tell you otherwise, but the truth is believers have an unspeakable joy the world does not understand.
Paul summed it up well in a later portion of this same letter:
“I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)
Paul discovered a recipe for being happy. Whether he had much or little mattered not. He understood the joy and strength which came from who he was in Christ. Anything in addition to this was simply gravy.
Paul said, “I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” And then he said,
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” Philippians 3:2(NKJV)
This is surprising, but if we continue reading we discover his statements are directed toward having a religious mindset. He felt it necessary to keep the church in remembrance of the deceptive spirit of religion that sneaks in only to steal, kill, and destroy.
A spirit of religion convinces a person struggling with their worthiness before God that they must earn their salvation. The result of this belief is a strict regimen of religious activities and judgment toward those who do not follow such. Those who live in this atmosphere begin to breed religious pride. They reduce their faith in God into faith in their religion.
God said, “My people perish for a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6 (KJV)
This word “perish” can be substituted with words like destroyed, cut down, or silenced. In other words, God’s children are destroyed, cut down and/or silenced by a simple lack of understanding of His truth. No wonder Paul said, “For me to write the same things to you is NOT tedious, but for you it is safe.” Paul understood the destruction which stems from simple ignorance. And the best weapon against ignorance is repetition! Say it once… say it again! Hear the truth, learn the truth, walk in the truth!
But there are boundaries to our repetition. Franklin Roosevelt made a good point when he said, “Repetition does not transform a lie into truth.”
God’s unfailing, reliable Word is our truth. No matter how long you and I have been in church, and no matter how many times we’ve heard a message on a certain set of scriptures, repetition of God’s Word is for our safety. Therefore, this truth remains: faith comes by hearing, not by having heard.