THE UNKNOWN GOD
PLEASE READ IN THE BIBLE (ACTS -34)
In the Bible, the Word
of God, in the book of Acts, chapter 17, verses 16 to 34, (Acts 17:16-34) we
have the record of the Apostle Paul’s visit to the city of Athens during his
second missionary journey. At the time,
Let’s consider first of all;
1. THE MEN OF
The intelligentsia of
· Man is Knowledgeable. They had an INTEREST in learning new things. It says in, (verse 21) “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or hear some new thing”. The people would gather in the market (verse 17) which was an open square in the heart of the city. It was the place where new opinions were expounded. The people loved to constantly go about in the marketplace asking one another, “What news?” . In a similar fashion, people in our day sometime’s greet one another with the question, “What’s new?” When the people heard the Apostle Paul speak they made INQUIRY of him desiring to know more of what he had to say. They said in, (verse 19) “May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is”? They said in, (verse 20) “We would know therefore what these things mean”. We are told in verse 18 that included among those who met Paul in the market place were “certain philosophers”. This means they were fond of wise things. Man is certainly knowledgeable in our day. It says in a prophetic scripture, (Daniel 12:4) “(At) the time of the end many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased”. We are indebted to the knowledge of man for giving us the life style we enjoy today. In the last one hundred years there has been an ever increasing “knowledge expansion”. With the inception of home computers and the internet we are now living in a time of “knowledge explosion”. Man is indeed endued with knowledge, but man’s intellectualism and wisdom will never bring him salvation. We read in, (1 Corinthians , 21-23) “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish (are perishing) foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God”. “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”. “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks (Gentiles) seek after wisdom”. “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks (Gentiles) foolishness”. Dear reader, does the simple message of the Gospel and God’s way of salvation stumble you? Do YOU consider the message to be foolish?
· In (verse 18) they said Paul was telling them of “strange gods”.
· In (verse 19) they admitted that what they heard was a “new doctrine”.
· In (verse 20) they said that Paul brought “strange things” to their ears.
· In (verse 23) Paul said to them, “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”.
It is ironic, is it not, that in the city of learning and knowledge and the pursuit of wisdom there stood an altar TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. The Greek philosophers had no understanding of the God of creation. They believed in many gods, and that the gods, like humans, had evolved. The Epicureans were materialists and atheists for the most part. To them there was no God and therefore no future life or retribution. Their attitude was “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die”. Dear reader, does this describe your attitude? The Stoics taught that God was everything and in everything, which is called Pantheism. A modern-day imitation of it is known as Christian Science. The Stoics believed that God with them was the “soul” of the universe, so that the distinction between the human and the divine ceased to exist. Man became his own god. The situation encountered by Paul at Athens is not unlike the situation in many modern countries and cities around the world today. Like Athens they are “wholly given to idolatry”. Because of what they believe there are many Epicureans and Stoics in the world today even though they have never heard of such names. Multitudes do not know the God of the Bible and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They are ignorant of their need of salvation and God’s way of salvation. Never has this been more true than in the day in which we live. I say this because generations have passed through educational systems around the world that are basically devoid of the knowledge of God. In fact, most schools are teaching against Christianity. The Bible, prayer and the doctrine of creation have been thrown out of public education. Students are being taught evolution as fact and that the Bible is not a credible book. The United States Supreme Court ruled that evolution could be taught in public schools “because it is a science”. However, it has disallowed creationism, “because it constitutes a religion”. Today, belief in evolution and the “Big Bang” theory (this is the dominate scientific theory about the origin of the universe) permeate the educational system. Dear reader, does this describe your experience in high school and or college? Do YOU have to confess that God is unknown to you? Are YOU like the Athenians? You may be cultured and well educated yet in a spiritual sense, and secretly, you have erected an altar TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. YOU need to be made aware that knowledge of the one true God is essential to your salvation. It says in, (John 17:3) “This is life eternal, that they might KNOW THEE the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent”. The Word of God makes it abundantly clear that the judgment of God will fall upon those who know not God. It says in, (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power: When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe”.
2. THE MAN WHO WENT TO ATHENS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL MESSAGE.
When the apostle Paul came to Athens it says, (Acts 17:16) “His spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry”. He said furthermore, (verse 23) “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”. What is the message that the Athenians, and people in our day, need to hear, who have little or no understanding of God and His way of salvation? The Athenians were a very religious people, given to the worship of many gods. The true God was an unknown God to the people. Regarding the true God, the human heart with its vain reasoning’s cannot discover. He can only be known by revelation from the Spirit of God. This is why Paul said unto them, “Him I declare unto you”. Paul said unto them, there is only one God. Notice what Paul preached to them. He gave them a FIVE-FOLD REVELATION OF GOD. He told them of;
· God’s Sovereignty (verse’s 24-26)
· God’s Availability (verse 27)
· God’s Patience or Longsuffering (verse 30a)
· God’s Commandment (verse 30b)
· God’s Appointments (verse 31)
God’s Sovereignty (verse’s 24-26)
Paul preached unto them about the sovereignty of God. He said in, (Acts 17:24-26) “God made the world and all things therein”. “He giveth to all life and breath, and all things”. “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”. Many today refuse to believe that the heavens and the earth as well as mankind came into existence by a divine creator. They prefer to believe instead in evolution and the “big bang” theory. The Word of God is very clear however, because it says;
· God Created the heavens and Earth – (Genesis 1:1) “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. (Exodus 20:11) “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day”. (Nehemiah 9:6) “Thou, even thou art Lord alone; Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all”. In the New Testament it says that God created all things through His beloved Son. (Colossians 1:16, 17) “For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, all things were created by Him and for Him; He is before all things and by Him all things consist”. In (Revelation 4:11) there is a heavenly scene where those who are before God’s throne worship Him and they say, “Thou art worthy, O lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created”.
· God Created Adam, Eve, and the Entire Human Race – (Genesis 1:27) “God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them”. (Genesis 5:1) “God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; male and female created He them”. THE EVOLUTION THEORY IS WRONG. Today DNA testing confirms that humans do not have the same DNA as animals. This is also confirmed by the Word of God. It says in, (1 Corinthians 15:39) “All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds”. Creation is the unanimous teaching of the entire Word of God. (Psalms 100:3) “Know the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture”.
God’s Availability (verse 27)
Paul preached unto them about the availability of God. He said in, (Acts 17:27) “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”. THESE ARE DAYS OF OPPORTUNITY. People are by nature ignorant of God therefore they are exhorted to “seek Him”. The God of creation can be known because He is near to those whom he has created. The psalmist said in, (Psalm 119:151) “Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy commandments are truth”. YOU have a responsibility to “seek God”, to come to the knowledge of His existence and character. Have YOU ever done this? It says in, (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near”. How important is this present moment to seek God and his salvation for the next moment may place you beyond His pardon and grace. Death can suddenly overtake you then it will be too late to avail yourself of His salvation.
God’s Patience and Longsuffering (verse 30a)
Paul preached unto them and said regarding their idolatry, (Acts 17:30a) “And the time of this ignorance God winked at”. THESE ARE DAYS OF IGNORANCE. Before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the salvation He provided by His death on the cross, God permitted the nations to go on in their idolatry without coming forth in direct judgment upon them. God “overlooked” their ignorance in the sense that He did not come forth in punishment. In times past God permitted all nations to walk in their own ways. God is a “longsuffering” God. It says in, (2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. It is dangerous conduct to abuse and trifle with the patience and longsuffering of God. His patience does have an end.
God’s Commandment (verse 30b)
Paul went on to say in the second part of this verse, (Acts 17:30b) “But now (God) commandeth all men every where to repent”. THESE ARE DAYS OF RESPONSIBILITY. God has revealed His mind and will for YOU through His Word. Notice that;
· God’s commandment is urgent. It is NOW that God is commanding all men everywhere to repent. It is NOW that YOU should repent. It is NOW that YOU can be saved. It says in, (2 Corinthians 6:2) “Behold NOW is the accepted time; behold NOW is the day of salvation”. NOW is the time when God will receive all who will come to Him through His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Tomorrow may be too late. There may not be a tomorrow for YOU. It says in, (James 4:14) “Ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor (a puff of smoke) that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”. No matter how much time God gives YOU, your stay here will be brief in light of eternity which is before you.
· God’s commandment is universal. “God commandeth all men everywhere to repent”. This commandment of God is universal in scope. It does not matter who you are or where you are this commandment is for YOU. Dear reader, have YOU obeyed this commandment of God? If not, when will YOU do so?
· God’s commandment is specific. “God commandeth all men everywhere to REPENT”. God’s solemn and unchanging message to man since Calvary is, (Acts 3:19) “Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out”. “Repentance” is a change of heart and mind which involves a turning away from sin and a turning to God for salvation. It means to agree with God and to take sides with God against your self. The Lord Jesus said in, (Luke 13:3, 5) “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”. Then He said it again, (Verse 5) “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”. Dear reader, ask yourself this question, “Have I repented”? This is a question of vital importance to every person, for out of it are the issues of life and death. If sinners do not repent they will be lost eternally. We are reminded in, (Acts 20:21) that repentance is a necessary precursor to salvation, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”. Repentance is due to God and faith is due to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are told in, (2 Peter 3:9) “The Lord is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”.
God’s Appointments (verse 31)
Notice the connection to repentance and what follows. (Acts 17, 30b, 31) “God commandeth all men every where to repent: Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead”. This is a reminder that there is coming A DAY OF JUDGMENT. God has appointed a day when He will judge this world or inhabited earth, (all who have not repented and have not believed the message of the Gospel). The judgment referred to in this verse will occur when the Lord returns in great power and glory to put down all enemies and set up His millennial kingdom. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the assurance that this future judgment will occur. God has also appointed the judge for this judgment. We are told in, (John 5:22, 23) “The father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him”. The one through whom God will judge is a Man ordained by Him, even His well beloved Son. This Judgment day is guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
3. THE MEN OF ATHENS AND THEIR REJECTION OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE.
We read in, (Acts 17:32, 34) “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, we will here thee again of this matter. Howbeit certain men clave unto him (Paul) and believed”. Notice the 3-fold reaction to the gospel message;
Dear reader, there is no reason that “your altar” should be an “altar to the Unknown God”. There is no reason that God should remain unknown to YOU. God has revealed Himself through His Creation. It says in, (Romans 1:19, 20) “That which may be known of God is manifest to them; for God hath showed it unto them”. “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”. It says also, (Psalms 19:1) “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handy-work”. God has revealed Himself through your Conscience. Your conscience tells you there is right and wrong and that there is a God, a creator. God has revealed Himself through Christ, which is His beloved Son. The Lord Jesus said in, (John 14:9) “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father”. If YOU want to know God you must look up and look around at His vast creation. If you want to know God you must look at Christ in the Word of God. Read about Him. Study Him and God will be revealed to you.
If YOU remain unsaved it will not be because God does not love you or because God’s Son did not die for you. It will be because you have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Will you reject the message of the gospel? Will you procrastinate and delay receiving Christ as your Savior or will you believe and be saved? You are traveling the “HIGHWAY OF LIFE”, passing through a very brief time into eternity. Now that you have read this message you have come to the “crossroads”. Which way will you go? Will you continue to reject the Savior and God’s free gift of salvation? Or, will you believe in Him and receive Him as your Lord and Savior? It is your decision and responsibility.
Please give this matter your most serious attention. Will you be a believer or a non-believer? What will your eternal destiny be? Will it be the eternal bliss of heaven or the eternal torment of hell and the “lake of fire”? YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY DEPENDS ON YOUR DECISION.