We’ve discussed Oprah’s favorite verse before. Let’s look at this verse again. In context, we read:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. Acts 17:26-29 English Standard Version (ESV)
From the website footnotes, the first quote is probably from Epimenides of Crete; the second quote is likely from Aratus’s poem “Phainomena.” To verses 27 and 28, Calvin says how conciliatory God is to us; He makes Himself findable:
That they might seek God. …It is man’s duty to seek God…God himself comes forth to meet us, and shows himself by such manifest tokens, that we can have no excuse for our ignorance.
Not only are the tokens He offers in the creation that surrounds us, but in the creation inside us:
Though he be not far from every one of us. …For though no corner of the world [is] void of the testimony of God’s glory, yet we need not go [outside] ourselves to lay hold upon him. For he affects and moves every one of us inwardly with his power in such [manner], that our [insensibleness] is [grotesque], in that in feeling him we feel him not…
Those apart from Christ are alienated, dead in trespasses and sins with no hope in the world. Yet, concerning even these (as we once were), Calvin says:
For in him. …God preserves, by the wonderful power and inspiration of his Spirit, those things which he has created [out] of nothing… [God did not create the world and afterward depart from his work; but the world continues to stand by his power moment by moment. The Creator of the world is its ever present governor.]
Paul said that [humans] need not seek far for God, whom they have [acting] within them [under his governance] …We have not only no life [except] in God, but [no] moving; [indeed, not even existence,] which is [lower in rank] to both [living and movement].
I say that life has the pre-eminence in men, because they have not only sense and motion as brute beasts have, but they [are endowed] with reason and understanding…So in John, when [he mentions the] creation of all things, [he adds separately and] not without cause, that life was the light of men, (John 1:4.)
…All those who [do not] know God [are ignorant that] they have God present with them not only in the excellent gifts of the mind, but in their very essence. [Since] it belongs to God alone to be [(i.e., He is the I am)], all other things have their being in him.
So, the self-existent God gives us physical life for one purpose: to know Him. He upholds the being of all things, including our own, by His power. We should, therefore, acknowledge Him. However, unless we receive by faith His justification of us by His unmerited favor, we are dead to Him.
Not only does His animating power envelop us, but our evil deeds surround us too; and He sees them all:
But they do not consider
that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
they are before my face.
Hosea 7:2 (ESV)
I urge you, then, to believe that His sacrifice of Himself for our sins declares you righteous. Then, you, along with the psalmist, can say with joy:
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
Psalm 139:4-6 (ESV)
We’ll examine the entire context (Acts 17:26-29) next week.
Watch a Breathtaking Time-Lapse of Grand Teton National Park, Aug 27, 2016, YouTube, National Geographic