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  • Glenn Rosenbaum

WE ARE GOD’S OFFSPRING

I. Owned by him

II. Owing him


Acts 17:22-31 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 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. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “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 hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 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. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “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. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 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 all men by raising him from the dead.”

In the name of Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, dear Christian friends,

If you have seen the movie starring Matthew McConaughey entitled We Are Marshall, then you know it is about the plane crash in 1970 that took the lives of most of the football team and the coaching staff of the Marshall University Thundering Herd. If you have seen the movie, then you also know of the inspiring rally cry of “We Are”…”Marshall” that resounds throughout the campus and the stadium as students and staff and supporters expressed their unity and their resolve to get through difficult times together.

If you remember the horrible child abuse scandal that went on at Penn State University about a decade ago, bringing national shame upon its vaunted football program and its celebrated coach, you will also remember the sculpture that was placed prominently on the campus to promote their unity and resolve to get through that difficult time together and to highlight their long-time rallying cry of “We are”…”Penn State”!

Many other schools and organizations have taken up this familiar chant and made it their own. So can we! At Grace Lutheran, “We are”…”Christians”! “We are”…”forgiv’n”! “We are”…”heav’n-bound”! “We are”... “so blessed”! Taking the words of the Apostle Paul recorded for us in today’s God-inspired words from the Acts of the Apostles, you and I can confidently claim and cry out, WE ARE GOD’S OFFSPRING! I. Owned by him II. Owing him.

The Apostle Paul was in Athens, no longer the chief city in Greece, but still a hotbed for secular philosophers and deep religious thinkers. He had been visiting the synagogue and the marketplace to proclaim the message of “Jesus and the resurrection” (v18). Because of the newness of his message, he was invited to speak to the courtroom assembled on Mars Hill.

Here he was talking to a group of all or mostly unbelievers. They were morally corrupt, religiously confused and spiritually condemned. They were in desperate need of hearing what Paul was bold enough to announce.

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 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. Now what you worship as something unknown 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 hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 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. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each 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.’

Paul addressed the concepts of the many gods and the unknown god they were worshiping. He wanted them to know there was only one deity. He wanted them to know that one true God.

To get to the message of Jesus, Paul met the people where they were at. They knew of a Supreme Being— someone bigger, greater, wiser than they. They knew of creation and created things constructed by this Supreme Being.

When you and I want to talk to an unbeliever about Jesus and the resurrection, it is good to start with the known things, like a Supreme Being and creation, and then move on to the unknown. People will better be able to follow your instruction and will know you are not trying to be argumentative or hierarchical.

Paul’s message was that the God who created them was also the God who controlled them. Is that a bad thing? Is it bad for a boy who forms a Lego car to refer to it as his car? Is it wrong for a girl who designs her own website to call it her own?

We are God’s offspring because we are owned by him. That does not make us robots who are controlled remotely by our Creator. It means that we have been put together by him, “fearfully and wonderfully made”, as the Psalmist tells us (139:14). He has given us free will, but because it is corrupted by our sinful nature, he also directs our life by his Word to lead us to do what is good and to turn away from what is wrong. He knew all about this COVID-19 stuff before it happened and knows how and when it will end. He knows everything about us and our future.

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 all men by raising him from the dead.” Paul transitions from his talk about an unknown god who created all things to an unnamed Savior and Judge who has redeemed all people.

Remember, Paul was addressing all or mostly unbelievers here. If he were addressing us today, I’m sure we would hear about another aspect of the advantage of being owned by God: we are his offspring by faith. By the same word God used to create the world, he creates saving faith in each of us. By the water and Word of baptism, he brought us to believe in Jesus as our Savior and adopted us into his family of faith.

“We are”…”God’s offspring” by creation and by faith. As such, we rally around him and one another. My list of members wanting to help members through this crisis continues to grow. Your offerings to Jesus during this time continues to amaze me. Your overall attitude is so positive and trusting.

“We are”…”God’s offspring”, owned by him, but also owing him. The Thundering Herd and the Nittany Lions alumni and staff shout their rally cry in unison with their compatriots and in honor of their alma mater because they understand the effect and influence the institution has had on them. Their allegiance compels them to owe their school for these gifts.

Knowing what God has done for us, we owe him what he asks of us. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

Here Paul told the Athenians, “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.

Is idolatry the only sin for which we are to repent? Of course not! Any and all of our sins separate us from our God and keep us out of his heaven. Yes, the gossip you wrote on Facebook yesterday has to be confessed. Of course, that abusive act you leveled at your family member needs your repentance.

God will not overlook our sins of ignorance, idolatry, immorality or any other. Even though he does not typically strike us down on the spot when we sin, he does close the door of heaven to all those who hold on to their sins in impenitence and unbelief.

So, turn your sins over to Jesus who died your death for sin. Trust in Jesus for the forgiveness he won for you. Turn away from future temptations to sin as you give thanks to Jesus for winning your eternal salvation.

This is what God’s people do! That is who we are! “We are”…”God’s offspring”!


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