“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (I Corinthians 3:7)
The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. First of all, we witness the reality of human religion in 17:16-18a. Second, in Acts 17:18b-21, we witness the reality in humans for the new. Thirdly, in Acts 17:22-23 we witness the reality of human worship. Fourthly, we witness in Acts 17:24-28 the reality of the creator. Fifthly, we witness in Acts 17:29-31 the reality of the only savior and judge. Finally, we witness in Acts 17:32-34 the reality of responses to the gospel.
“Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”
We witness three responses to the gospel in this text. The responses given to Paul are not all that different from the responses people give today.
First, there is the mocker. This is the individual(s) who scoff at, jeer, or make a joke of the gospel. How often have you encountered people who make a joke of Jesus, the gospel and you in your efforts to share the truth? I know I have and it’s not fun to have your Savior, and your faith, made fun of. Nevertheless, it happens. It happened to Paul and it will happen to anyone who endeavors to share the truth of Jesus Christ. Mockery is an evidence that a person does not know God.
Second, there is the curious. They do not mock you or what you have to say, at least not to your face, but neither do they embrace the gospel. They rather cordially comment that what you have said is interesting and they will think about it. They are the curious but also the non-committed. I have often spoken with people such as this. However, while they may say they would like to get together again to discuss the gospel, they seldom do.
Third, there are the converted. These are the ones who repent and believe the truth of the gospel. Acts 17:34 even mentions some by name who God converted by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The names of two such converts were Dionysius and Damaris.
Remember, the response to the gospel is not dependent upon you. It is a work of the Holy Spirit when a person comes to the faith in Christ (John 3:1-8; I Corinthians 3:5-9; Titus 3:1-7). We are to sow the seeds of the gospel, as Paul did, but it is the Holy Spirit’s work to sovereignly regenerate the deadened sinner and bring them eternal life.
Let me encourage you to be faithful to share the gospel, and then rest in the sovereign work of God to bring about salvation.
Soli deo Gloria!