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Summary: This sermon focuses on how Paul revealed God's heart and desire at Athens

INTRODUCTION

* To know God biblically means to know him as the Bible reveals him, not as we imagine him or as someone portrays him

* The importance of knowing God biblically: Proverbs 9:10 = knowing God helps us understand life better than if we do not know him biblically

* The paradox of knowing God: we can, yet we can’t // we can know some things about him, but not all things about him

* Different and competing ideas about God are not new (see verses 16-21)

- The Epicureans felt that the chief end of man was pleasure and happiness; please is attainted by avoided excesses and the fear of death, by seeking tranquility and freedom from pain, and by loving mankind // they believed that if gods exist, they do not become involved in human events

- The Stoics were pantheistic: nature and God are identical; a great “Purpose” was directing history; man’s responsibility was to fit himself and align himself with this purpose through tragedy and triumph; Stoics were very prideful and self-sufficient

* Against this backdrop Paul enters and presents a case for the true God

* Text reveals what Paul said about God and thus what we can know about God...

1. God prefers relationships over religion (v. 22-23, 27-28)

* Athenians had religion and were devoted to it; their religion, however, was misplaced (the phrase “very religion” means “to fear or revere deities”)

* Many have redefined religion; biblical use describes one’s devotion to God or gods; culturally, religion is simply a set of beliefs a person has

* God designed religion to be linked to relationship: our religion (devotion to God) would outwardly reflect our relationship with God

* James 1:27 = biblical religion is linked to action for God

* What we have done: reduced religion from actions that reveal our devotion to God to a set of ideas/beliefs that we give lip service to, but don’t necessarily live

* Religion, separated from a developing relationship with Christ, is dangerous: the wrong concept of religion can lead to the wrong concept of God

* God’s desire is to have a personal relationship with man that causes biblical religion (see verses 27-28)

- the myth that God is a million miles away is destroyed in verse 27 (see also Jer. 29:13)

- notice the familiar words of verse 28

* The great God, Creator, wants to have a personal relationship with people

* We must be careful to not allow religion to be misplaced or to give it priority over our relationship with Christ

* Philippians 3:8

2. God is all-powerful (v. 24-26)

* Athenians are polytheistic: Paul’s desire is for them to know the great power of the one true God

* God’s power defined as “omnipotence” = all-powerful (Jer. 32:17)

* God’s omnipotence is revealed in many ways, each having an impact on our lives. Paul mentions a few of those revelations...

A. God’s omnipotence is revealed in creation (v. 24) = God made everything out of nothing; his display of power deserves glory (Rev. 4:11)

B. God’s omnipotence is revealed in his self-sufficiency (v. 25)

- we are not self-sufficient: we needed someone to give us life

- God does not need us to be God. He does not need anyone’s assistance in order to do what he does

- a humbling thought: God wants to know us even though he doesn’t “need” us

C. God’s omnipotence is revealed in man’s existence (v. 25-26a)

- our lives point to the power of God as he gives us life and sustains that life

- because of this truth, we must learn to rely and depend upon God (1 John 4:16)

D. God’s omnipotence is revealed in his control (v. 26b)

E. God’s omnipotence is revealed in his power over death (v. 18, 31-32)

- the point of Paul’s message centered on the resurrection of Jesus Christ

- the ultimate proof of God’s omnipotence is a living Savior

3. God is superior to all others (v. 24b, 29)

* Paul’s objective was to show how God is superior to all other gods the Athenians worshipped...

- v. 24 = Athenians assumed their Greek gods lives in humanly constructed temples

- v. 29 = the fact that God can and wants to know us reveals his superiority

- Athenians (lifeless idols) vs. Paul (life-giving God)

* God was, is, and will always be greater than anyone or anything else = Psalm 135:5

* God’s supremacy is more than a theological truth. It impacts how we live and exist.

- God’s greatness always impacted his people (see Deut. 9:1)

- Today we are able to experience victory over sin because of his supremacy (see 1 John 4:4)

* Because God is the greatest, he deserves the greatest from us (2 Chronicles 2:5)

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