*/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.
*/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)/*