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Making Known the Unknown God

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Making Known the Unknown God

 

Acts 17:16-27 (KJV)

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry .

17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him .

18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say ? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection .

19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest , is ?

20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean .

21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing .)

22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill , and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious .

23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions,  I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you .

24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands ;

25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things ;

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation ;

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us :

  • There is an interesting story as to how this altar to the unknown god was built.
  • A plague spread rampantly in the 600 B.C.
  • Back then people thought the cause of the epidemic was they had gotten one of the gods angry.
  • The leaders tried to determine which god they had gotten mad to no avail.
  • A poet by the name Epimenides of Cyprus appeared on the scene.
    He concluded that the one who was angry was "a god not known" yet in Athens and he made one suggestion.
  • First, select a number of sheep and let them get hungry by not giving them any feed to eat. Then, release them where there is grass. Then the sheep will eat the grass according to their natures.
  • However, if there is a spot somewhere where they did not eat the grass, build an altar there.
  • So, the place where they did not eat the altar was built for "The Unknown God".
  • As the apostle walked around the city he saw the gods of Athens, the idols that were being worshipped.
  • One of the ancient writers tells us that at this time there were 30,000 gods in Athens! 
  • There were more idols in Athens than in all of Greece combined. 

There were three groups to whom Paul spoke:

  • First he went into the synagogue, as his custom was, and there spoke to the religious people, the Jews and devout persons who were there.
  • These Jews (and the Greeks who were following Judaism) were opposed to the idolatry of the city, but could do nothing to prevent it.
  • There was nothing they said that could help the city. They themselves were delivered from idolatry, but they were powerless to deliver the city because they were focusing on their own religious experience.
  • To these religious persons, Paul preached the gospel with seemingly little effect.

  • Then, there were the common citizens of the city whom he met in the marketplace, tradesmen, people going about their business, commercial people coming in with their wares to the city square.
  • There he met them and talked with them. Here were people who were unthinking victims of the idolatry that held the city in its grip.
  • They were possessed by superstition, gripped by fear, uncertainty, dread of darkness, and inner tensions and turmoil.
  • These are always the results of following false gods.

  • Then there was a third group, the philosophers.
  • These were men who were delivered themselves from the crass idolatry of the city, but who were offering, as an alternative, the barren concepts of pagan philosophy.
  • There are two kinds mentioned here, the Epicureans and the Stoics. Now, do not think that we have left Epicureanism and Stoicism behind, for we have not; they are very much in evidence today.
  • The Epicureans were atheists; they denied God's existence. They denied a life after death. They were also materialists, and felt that this life was the only thing that really existed and that, therefore, men should get the most out of it.
  • They felt that pleasure was the highest virtue, and that pain was the opposite. Their motto (and it still persists to this day) was "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
  • They were what we would call today "existentialists," living for the experience of the moment. This is a widespread philosophy in our day, although it is no longer called Epicureanism.
  • The Stoics, followers of the philosopher Zeno, were pantheists.
  • That is, they believed that everything is God, and that he does not exist as a separate entity, but is in the rocks and trees and every material thing.
  • Their attitude toward life was one of ultimate resignation, and they prided themselves on their ability to take whatever came.
  • They urged moderation: "Don't get over-emotional, either about tragedy or happiness." Apathy was regarded as the highest virtue of life.
  • You will recognize there are many people today who feel that the best thing they can do is to take whatever comes and handle it the best they can.
  • These Stoics were all proud fatalists, and there are many like them today.
  • With all of the “gods” they worshipped, they acknowledged, by the presence of that altar, that their “gods” were insufficient. Like wealth, prestige, and power, the Athenians just couldn’t seem to get enough gods.
  • Thus, they left room for one more, because they saw the need for another.

  • Here is a vital difference between Christianity and idolatry.
  • Polytheism (the having of many gods) and idolatry (the worship of the images of these gods) never has enough gods.
  • Furthermore, this form of religion is more than willing to add the one true God to its list of “gods.”
  •  It is very tolerant of additional “gods.”
  • Christianity, however is that faith in which “one God does all.” With one, true, all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God, no other God is needed, or tolerated.
  • Christianity has a capable God and men who trust in Him find Him fully sufficient.

Romans 1:18-32 (KJV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness ;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them ; for God hath shewed it unto them .

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse :

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened .

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things .

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves :

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen .

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature :

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet .

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient  

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers ,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents ,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful :

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

 

Colossians 1:15-21 (KJV)

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature :

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him :

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist .

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence . 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell ;

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say , whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven .

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

Colossians 2:8-10 (KJV)

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ . 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily .

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power :

 

1 Corinthians 1:20-27 (KJV)

20 Where is the wise ? where is the scribe ? where is the disputer of this world ? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ?

21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe .

 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom :

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness ;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God .

 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men .

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble , are called :

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty ;

 

  • The longer I look at the Athenian philosophers, these ancient heathen, the more they look like some Americans of today.
  • These Gentile heathen of centuries ago enjoyed the blessings of political freedom in what was one of the earliest democracies.
  • They were cultured, highly intelligent, and educated, and very religious, but they had rejected God and exchanged the worship of the one true God for “gods” of their own.
  • How much like them our non-Christian culture is like.
  • We have more confidence in human reasoning and our search for truth than we do in the one who is the Truth, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • And worse yet, it would seem to me that much of that which characterizes our heathen culture characterizes the Christian and our Christian culture. How often so called enlightened Christians look down on those who have a simple answer to life’s problems (Christ, and His shed blood), and who tell us that life’s problems are really much more complex than all this, and that the wisdom which we need is not really that found in the Bible, but is the product of the human pursuit of knowledge.

1 Tim 2:1-5

1        I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

2        For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

3        For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

4        Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

5        For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

(KJV)

This truth was important to a man named Saul from Tarsus.  He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees.  One of the most respected in Israel.  He was a member of the ruling Sanhedrien.  He decided matters of the law.  And it is natural that he would for he was a student of the greatest teacher of law of his day and he was surely the most zealous for the law of Moses.  But he was one of those that was religious, sincere, devout and lost.  Until, one day on his way to Damascus, he found out who Jesus was.

Lord who are you?  I am Jesus

Genesis: The Seed of the Woman
Exodus: The Passover Lamb
Leviticus: The High Priest
Numbers: The Cloud and The Fire
Deuteronomy: The Prophet Like Moses
Joshua: The Captain of Our Salvation
Judges: The Judge And Lawgiver
Ruth: The Kinsman Redeemer
1 & 2 Samuel: The Prophet of The Lord
1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles: The Reigning King
Ezra: The Faithful Scribe
Nehemiah: The Rebuilder of The Broken Walls
Esther: Mordecai
Job: The Dayspring From on High
Psalms: The Lord Who Is Our Shepherd
Proverbs & Ecclesiastes: The Wisdom of God
The Song of Solomon: The Lover & Bridegroom
Isaiah: The Prince of Peace
Jeremiah & Lamentations: The Weeping Prophet
Ezekiel: The Wheel Turning
Daniel: The 4th Man in The Fiery Furnace
Hosea: The Bridegroom 
Joel: The Baptiser With The Holy Spirit
Amos: The Burden Bearer
Obadiah: The Mighty Savior
Jonah: The Forgiving God
Micah: The Messenger With Beautiful Feet
Nahum: The Avenger of God's Elect
Habakkuk: The Great Evangelist, Crying For Revival
Zephaniah: The Restorer of God's Lost Heritage
Haggai: The Cleansing Fountain
Zechariah: The Pierced Son
Malachi: The Son of Righteousness
   
Matthew: The Messiah
Mark: The Wonder Worker
Luke: The Son of Man
John: The Son of God
Acts: The Ascended Lord
Romans: The Justifier
1 & 2 Corinthians: The Gifts of The Spirit
Galatians: The One Who Sets Us Free
Ephesians: The Christ of Riches
Philippians: The God Who Meets Our Every Need
Colossians: The Fullness of The Godhead
1 & 2 Thessalonians: The Soon Coming King
1 & 2 Timothy: The Mediator Between God And Man
Titus: The Faithful Pastor
Philemon: The Friend, Closer Than a Brother
Hebrews: The Blood That Washes Away My Sins
James: The Great Physician
1 & 2 Peter: The Chief Shepherd
1 & 2 & 3 John: Everlasting Love
Jude: The Lord coming with 10,000 Saints
Revelation: The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

John 14:9-10

9        Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

10      Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

(KJV)

HE IS A--Z:

Advocate: I John 2:1

Almighty God: Rev. 1:8, 15:3, Isa. 9:6

Alpha: Rev. 1:8, 22:13 Bread of life:  John 6:35

Bright and Morning Star:  Rev. 22:16 Chief Corner Stone:  Eph. 2:20

Chief Shepherd: I Peter 5:4

Christ: John 1:41; Matt. 16:16

Counsellor:  Isa. 9:6 Door: John 10:9

Emmanuel: Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23

Everlasting Father: Isa. 9:6 Finisher of our faith Heb. 12:2

First and the Last: Rev. 1:17

Good Shepherd:  John 10:14 Head of the church;  Eph. 4:12-15; 5:23

“I Am”  Exo. 3:14; John 8:58

Jesus

King of kings: Rev. 17:14; 19:6

Lamb of God: John 1:29-36; Rev. 5:6-12; 13:8; 22:3

Life:  John 14:6

Light of the world:  John 8:12; 9:5

Lily of the Valley: Song of Sol. 2:1

Lion of the tribe of Judah: Rev. 5:5

Lord of lords: Rev. 17:14; 19:16 Messiah: Dan. 9:25; John 1:41

Mighty God: Isa. 9:6 Omega: Rev. 1:8, 22:13

Only Begotten of the Father: John 1:14 Prince of peace: Isa. 9:6

Quickening Power: John 5:21

Redeemer: Job 19:25; Isa. 49:26; 59:20

Rose of Sharon; Song of Sol. 2:1

Root of David: Rev. 22:16

Saviour of the world: John 4:42, Tit. 1: 4; I john 4:14

Son of God John 3:16; John 1:34

Son of man:  Matt. 16:13; Luke 5:24; Acts 7:56

Truth: John 14:6

Way: John 14:6

Creator and Created;

First and Last

Root and Offspring of David

High Priest and Sacrifice

Shepherd and Lamb

King of kings above all and servant of all

Son of God and Son of man

Which was, which is and which is to come – He is the past, present and future.

As far back as you can go there is God – in the beginning – God

He is God right now – he is not asleep, on vacation, taking a break, he is not preoccupied or distracted, he has not retired nor has he gotten old.  He is up to date, on time, right now God.

He will exist beyond time and throughout eternity.

He will not need a successor,  He will never be voted out, impeached or defeated.

He is the only God that ever was and he is the only God that will ever be.

The Almighty – there is not limit to him.

There is no limit to his power – he will defeat every foe. 

There is no limit to his knowledge.  He is not surprised with a situation that could change his plans.  To him the darkness is as the light.  He knows the thought before the word is spoken or the action is taken.  He knows the end from the beginning. 

There is no limit to his presence. If you go to the highest part of heaven there he is.  If you go to the deepest part of the ocean – he is there. 

There is no limit to his love.  He loves the unlovable.  While we were yet sinners he loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins.  When we fall, it is his love that reaches out to get us back on our feet.

My friend, let me simply and emphatically state – God is!!!

He is not a has-been or a wanna-be – He is!!

He is not an invention of man’s imagination.  He is!!! Ps 46:1

1        God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Ps 59:17

17      Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.   (KJV) Ps 62:7

7        In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.   (KJV) Ps 99:9

9        Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.   (KJV)

Ps 116:5

5        Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.  

Dan 2:47

47      The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.   (KJV)

Dan 9:14

14      Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.   (KJV)

Nahum 1:2

2        God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.   (KJV)

Matt 22:32

32              I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.   (KJ

Acts 10:34

34      Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:   (KJV)

John 4:24

24      God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.   (KJV)

1 Cor 1:9

9        God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.   (KJV)

1 Cor 1:25

25      Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.   (KJV)

2 Cor 1:18

18      But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay.   (KJV)

Gal 3:20

20      Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.   (KJV)

Heb 12:29

29      For our God is a consuming fire.   (KJV)

I Jn 1:5

5        This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.   (KJV)

I Jn 4:8

8        He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.   (KJV)

He is the rock that is higher than I

He is the cleff of the rock

He is all I need.

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