By Teol. Leônidas Almeida

            *Sermon delivered by Ap. Paul in Athens, one of the major Greek cities and the birthplace of democracy, considered influential by his art and philosophy and also an important center of study. As these days the citizens of Athens liked to spend time searching for news, new experiences, new existential formulas, new models and New Gods.

        Occurs when the ears are more mindful of the news, most important subjects lose their relevance. Then we went to live in an atmosphere of emptiness and luxuries, fashion show, fashion show, celebrity, celebrity knowing everything and not understanding anything, leaving only an empty soul.

         Regarding your philosophy divided between the Epicureans, who believed that the happiness and pleasure were the high life as well, and the Stoics-being pantheistic, create a moral quality characterized by ethics and personal responsibility. In general line we can understand that the Stoics sought self-sufficiency as supreme good, while the Epicureans looking pleased. Even today we can find the influence of this thought in the contemporary way of life, and even the fusion of both in a group, either through political parties, religious denomination, philosophical, social group, bar conversations, etc.

         Paul revolted to realize the spiritual blindness of the Athenians in their various conceptions of GOD, because the thought is transcendent and immanent God Paul at the same time, that is the God who was revealed in the Old Testament is the same God who made himself immanent in the person of Jesus Christ.

        Therefore this God is not diluted in the world, as the pantheistic thinking of the Stoics, the world does not become God, because God was manifested as Lord in this world which he so loved in the person of Jesus Christ as he had taught the evangelist John: "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perishbut have everlasting life " (John 3.16). So it would be like Paul define God nor understand it through categories proposed by anthological Greek philosophers.

         The indignation experienced by Paul warns us that we have on posture of a given fact and situation in which we find ourselves. So in the example of the Apostle have two choices: we stay in our comfort zone watching by television the public and social life events or get excited and went out to do something.

         Remember the testimony of Rev. David Wilkerson to see newspaper reports about various gangs killing themselves by the power struggle in the ghettos of New York of the years 60/70. Then the Rev. D Wilkerson left his comfortable Shepherd's life in an inner city and went to that place in order to achieve something that could help those people. Later the Rev. Wilkerson founded one of the largest centers of drug addicts in the world.

         Paul, as a true disciple of Christ, was a Christian of public squares, sought in any case establish communication with listeners by Frank and respectful debate, rather than the direct enforcement of his convictions, without however leave them exposed in all its fullness, as it was aware that its mission in Athens was to make known to them the unknown God.

         Paul understands that the sanctity of the religiosity of the monastery, when not understood its meaning, can separate us from the people and prevents our testimony, while the sanctity of yeast goes towards the towns and streets in pursuit of another. "Just as you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (Jn 17.18).

         Who announces the Gospel must be prepared to be labeled ignorant, contemptible, wacky, destructive cultures importer, chatterbox, etc. Paul was willing to be taxed of all this and even more so, because his aim was not simply to please the audience, because he understood the meaning of the truth that liberates " (John 8.32).

         The presence of Paul outside striking even in the middle of a kind of cynical intellectualism, knew that the seed of the word of God when sown in human heart can give its fruits despite the antagonism. When God opens an opportunity for you to share the Gospel doesn't get intimidated, or thinking about the short-term results that this can bring, go ahead and sow the word, knowing that it is God himself who will bring their fruits in its due time. I am here just a note: the speech should never be separated from life, as the hypocrisy scandalizes and closes the people's hearts to the word of God.

         For the Athenians, the unknown God was worshipped, but lacked knowledge and communion with God. They had only a vague idea about the possibility of their existence. Many of us are also so, we believe that there is a God, with a greater or lesser degree of grandeur and understanding, but we know him in his essence as a person as well as his revelation and his will for our lives.

         Paul points out that this God can be found by those who even groping, IE with a vague vision about this God is not far from us, because the one who seeks will find, and certainly as a sure promise from God himself revealed in Scripture and realizing that all who seek will find. "And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Know the Lord; Let us meet you. As sure as the sun rises, it will appear; will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the Earth. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and what comes to me in any way the will cast off " (Jr 29.13, The 6.3, Jo 6.37).

         I remember a friend once asked me: Leo you really believe God exists? I replied: You should not make me this kind of question, why not say this directly to him in silence and in the intimacy of your room with faith and humility? Then continued: my experience of faith is personal and unique**, I may even share with you, but will continue to be my experience of faith and not his, then continue your search and see for yourself. ** Read this link-"Seeking visitation and grace":

         Because it never tried to convince anyone about the existence or nonexistence of God, avoid discussions with atheists, because if the person has already made his choice by unbelief, has no way to get them to experiment with the numinous because to open the door of the encounter with God you must have the key of the faith. "But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he exists and that rewards those who seek him " (Hebrews 11.6).       

         The lecture of Paul starts in the appeal of the divine work of creation and Providence. Who is this unknown God? God creator of the cosmos, doesn't dwell in sanctuaries made by men, so "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4.24). Has no way to restrict God given creed or religious confession because he is above organizations erected by men.

         Paul continues stating that God is not served by men, reveals a God giver of grace, in that there is nothing that we can not give to God because he gave all things graciously, there is no way to bargain, the only thing we can do to do the works of God is to believe on him that he sent his son, Jesus.

         In this sense the theologian Karl BARTH emphasizes the distance between God and the world, because God is totally free and sovereign, thus emphasizes the love of God beside the absolute freedom of God, where the relationship between man and God is vertical, that is, human beings can only recognize salvation in that revelation is from God himself. Barth says: "it is precisely because of this there are free only in the reflection of the resurrection, as Christ's gift, which makes the connection between God and the human being, while the tears, separating the". On this divine grace singer Bono Vox (U2) in music-Grace-thus describes it: "grace she takes the blame, she covers the shame, removes the stain, a thought that changed the world, finds goodness in everything, she travels out of Karma".

         Then Paul to be noted about the resurrection of the body is violently criticized by listeners, considering that the resurrection of the body this unconditioned any form of self-purification, because God's grace in Christ forgives the sinner. Since the theme of the resurrection of the body remains a stumbling block, bringing a watershed in the various philosophical and religious currents.

         We conclude that the message announced by Paulo consisted primarily in the reality of the existence of one God, kind, gracious, giver of life, and that requires we repent of our sins. In this world of injustice this reserved him a day of Judgment, a reckoning with God himself, through which he raised him from the dead to know Jesus which is this judge for everyone.

Listen to this lovely song cited in text-Grace-U2

*Original text of the sermon Ap. Paul

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship —and this is what I am going to proclaim to you."The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone —an image made by human design and skill.In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."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.  At 17.16-34


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