Mixed Results: Acts 17:32-34
“32) Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33) So Paul went out of their midst. 34) But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.” Acts‬ ‭17‬:‭32‬-‭34‬
The message of the cross and resurrection is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. (See 1 Corinthians 1:18) No wonder some mocked and sneered at the gospel. Some even view it as cruel that God would sacrifice His own Son.
But the gospel makes perfect sense to those with an Old Testament perspective. It lines up with all the types, ceremonies, shadows and prophecies God gave to the Jewish people throughout history. From Abraham offering up Isaac to the Passover in Egypt, the gospel can be preached.
But even without this foundation, some men joined him and believed. The Spirit of God works in people drawing them to Christ and illuminating them to the truth. Among them were Dionysius, Areopagite and a woman named Damaris. Each of them represented a unique story of God working in their lives drawing them to salvation.
Paul attempted to unpack the mystery of the way the Holy Spirit works in people in 1 Corinthians 1:18-3:23. In this context he talked about the natural man, the spiritual man and the carnal man. All three are present and abundant among people in every time and every society where the gospel is preached.
It was the fruit of those who responded and were transformed by the Spirit of God that motivated Paul to continue. The Spirit anointed sharing of the gospel always produces fruit. (See Colossians 1:3-8) When the seeds of the gospel are planted and irrigated, God sends the growth and the harvest. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
No experience in life or career compares to living and working in tandem with the Spirit of God. Every believer is called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be effective and fruitful in sharing the gospel. (See John 15:4-8; 15:16; Acts 1:8).
There will be disappointments along the way. It often comes in the form of rejection and even persecution. But there will also be indescribable blessings and supernatural results. For some reason the Spirit of God is most active on the front lives of evangelism. He is the one who empowers the gospel message and wrestles people through to conversion and transformation. It happens over time.
There will always be mixed results when sharing the gospel. Do not be impatient or give up on anyone. God works over time. This can be illustrated by the Saul to Paul conversion. It took time for the seeds to be planted, start growing and the Spirit of God to eventually wrestle him to conversion. Many will never embrace the gospel. Their condemnation is just.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global