Today we will look at the two final points and conclusion of Paul’s sermon to the Athenians.
3. God is the ordainer of all things. Third, Paul says that God not only sustains the universe but that He also guides the affairs of men. Verse 26 says, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
Theologians refer to this as “the hidden counsels” of God. The word “hidden” means that God has not revealed these eternal counsels to us in Scripture as He has other things. We do not know the future; we do not know what God has determined to do in national affairs. Nevertheless, God is in control of what happens. He has made plans and thus also determines whatever comes to pass.
4. We should seek God. If God has revealed Himself to us in creation, as He has, and if God sustains creation (including ourselves), if God has determined the bounds of our habitations and our destiny, which Paul declares to be the case, it follows that we have an obligation to seek God out and find Him. Indeed, that is the purpose of the general revelation. God has revealed Himself so that we might seek Him out. Paul states this clearly and emphatically in verse 27, saying, “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
The conclusion. The conclusion is that we have not done that. Instead, we have made idols that we can see and manage. And because we have made idols rather than having sought after the true God, we must repent. In fact, it is commanded. Verses 29 and 30 say, “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 man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” We are more guilty than the Greeks since we know so much more of God and His ways. But repentance is still where we must begin. Christianity does not begin by saying, “You’re a very good fellow,” and “everything is going to be nice for you if you will just get in touch with God.” Christianity says, “You have failed to seek after God. You have gone your own way. You are willfully ignorant. Therefore, God commands that you repent of that sin of ignorance.” But, as we repent, God holds out the offer of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ.