“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this" (Acts 17:32).
One of the greatest joys of doing physical work is being able to see the end result or the finished product. But when it comes to preaching the word of God seeing the end result is not always what we want to see. Although God is omnipotent He will not make us do what He desires. His word has the power to change the lives of those who hear, but only if we are willing to open our hearts and minds to its authority. Therefore, the end result of evangelism is not always the same.
But in actuality, the end result is known by God and we must be able to rely on His power and not falsely accuse ourselves for not winning the soul we tried to win to Christ.
Paul was a great preacher of truth, but even he could not win every soul he evangelized. Some people are just not willing to accept what God offers through His truth. As Paul preached his lesson on Mars Hill, we see three different responses to truth. First, there are those that will sneer. This is a Greek word meaning to deride or jeer. The power of truth can be so overwhelming to some that the only way they can respond is to make fun of something that they just don’t understand. This kind of reaction brings comfort to their minds for their inability to comprehend the depth of a subject, in this case the resurrection. Some people just cannot envelop the power of God’s will because it causes us to stretch our minds into faith: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Being clothed in flesh limits our ability to understand what we cannot see. This is why faith is so important.
Another response to truth seen after Paul’s sermon is doubt. Some of the listeners needed to hear more on the subject. This is not necessarily a bad response because it shows a willingness to seek truth. But for many it is just a way to put off their true response of rejection. When Jesus walked the earth searching for disciples, He sought men that were willing to immediately trust in His power and follow His lead. Peter, Andrew, James and John were among the first disciples of Christ and the Bible reveals their immediate response of submission. When we put off our response to Jesus we give Satan time to discourage us from following our Lord: "Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up” (Matthew 13:3-4). Many have not followed through because they waited to respond to Jesus and Satan used someone or something to snatch the word of God away from hearts.
So we can see that when the word of God is presented, people will respond in different ways. But we have yet to see the final response that Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, reveals to us. This response is seen in verse 34: “But some men joined him and believed.” Proper response to truth requires the proper heart. Some folks have the right heart for God: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). To reiterate what we said before, God will not make us respond in submission to His will. But He sent His love to earth in the form of a Man we know as Jesus to win our trust. God did not hold back when we needed a Savior. He did not send us a financial advisor or a military genius. He sent us His Son to pay the price for our mistakes. And when we come to know Jesus as Lord we respond to Him in love: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). If you are visiting us today you are here because someone loves you enough to ask you to come to hear the word of God and they, as well as all of us, want you to respond to Jesus in love today.
In His Grace,