1. Who is the God we serve? What makes him different from other gods? (Subject)
a. Greeks and Romans believed in a pantheon of gods who exercised control over particular areas of the world and human life.
b. Products of ancient folklore; existed in stories, minds.
2. In our "enlightened" age, the creation and worship of fictional gods seems primitive.
3. PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS CREATED GODS FOR THEMSELVES.
Ø Israel created its own god of revelry in the golden calf.
Ø The Canaanites created their fertility god, Baal.
Ø The Greeks and Romans created their pantheon of immoral and often treacherous gods.
4. MODERN PEOPLE ARE NO EXCEPTION.
a. Custom-design their own imaginary god who is tolerant of their lifestyle and values.
· "I believe in God; I love God," they claim.
b. What they mean is that they believe in and love a god.
EX: 2 people both knowing someone named Joe Noles, but discover it not same one.
1) People may refer to their god by same name as we do, but when they describe him--what kind of God he is, you find out it’s not the same God.
· In one sense, they have a warped view of God.
· In another sense, they believe in a different god altogether.
2) The true God has revealed himself in his Word.
3) The god that many believe in is not the same as the one revealed in Scripture.
· They didn’t get their god from the Bible; they created him from their own ideas.
· They believe in and love a god, and they may even believe there is only one, but it is not the God of the Bible.
5. What good is a man-made god? (blessings? salvation?)
6. THIS WAS THE FRUSTRATION OF PAUL AND BARNABUS as they tried to introduce the power of the Gospel in Lystra (Acts 14:6-18).
a. Lystra full of pagan religion (temple to Zeus).
b. Paul and Barnabus came preaching Christ.
c. Paul performed miracle (paralytic)—hoping to bring the people to faith in the Lord.
d. People attributed it to their pagan gods.
· Believed Paul and Barnabus were Zeus and Hermes incognito.
e. Paul and Barnabus exasperated & tried stop sacrifices.
· Chided the people: & v. 15-17.
7. Paul paints a miniature PORTRAIT OF THE TRUE GOD. Notice the main features. Who is the God that we serve? What is he like?
The LIVING God (v. 15)
A. The true God doesn’t exist only in epics or in minds—HE LIVES.
1. He is the essence of being (only one whose very nature is to exist) . . .
· "I AM" (Ex. 3.14)
2. He exists independently of human recognition . . .
B. A living God stands IN CONTRAST TO WORTHLESS, IMAGINARY GODS.
. The god which most people believe in—as they have defined and characterized him—exists only in their imaginations.
a. E.g., Many believe in a god who doesn’t expect much out of them except to be a basically "good" person.
· He’s not real concerned about premarital sex, as long as there is love;
· He is not the originator of any particular religion;
· He doesn’t care whether you are a part of a church or not.
b. This god (as they envision him) doesn’t exist.
· He is "alive" only in their minds, and dies if they quit believing.
· He is no more real than Zeus or Hermes!
2. The true God lives, even if they (or everyone) don’t acknowledge him.
C. THE ADJECTIVE "LIVING" BRINGS MANY IMAGES TO MIND.
1. God is animated (to many, God is just a concept/idea)
a. He moves and acts.
b. He has acted in time and space.
c. He continues to act today (powerfully, but more subtly).
2. He is dynamic.
EX: Like a masterfully-written symphony (soft/loud).
a. Sometimes he’s loud and aggressive (EX: Sodom & Gomorrah; moving worship)
b. Sometimes he’s very quiet and barely discernible (EX: "still, small voice"; battling emptiness)
· A living God is dynamic; he doesn’t always act the same way.
3. God is not a cold, impersonal force (center of energy or energy in everything)
a. He is warmth and love.
b. He feels anger, sympathy, compassion, satisfaction, understanding, humor.
c. He thinks and reasons.
d. He is a God you can draw near to and embrace.
· When the foundations of your world are crumbling, you may fall into his open arms and experience his tender care.
ä No imaginary god can boast any of these things.
The Creating God (v. 15b)
A. GREEKS DID NOT BELIEVE GODS ETERNAL, NOR CREATORS OF WORLD.
1. Nature was eternal and it gave birth to the first gods (who gave birth to other gods).
2. Their gods were finite and imperfect—Why worship?