Summary: How great is our God? This four-sermon series is all about the greatness and glory of God. In part one, this expository sermon from Acts 17 explains that our God is a creative God, a caring God and a commanding God.
HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD (part 1)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 4/15/2012
At a Youth for Christ rally a curious college student once posed a provocative question to the great mass-evangelist, Billy Graham. He asked, “What kind of guy is God?” He may not have realized it at the time, but that’s a mountain of a question. How would you answer it? If some asked you to tell them about your God, what would you say?
Mull that one over for a minute, and then let me take you back in time nearly two millennia to the ancient city of Athens.
In Acts 17, as the apostle Paul approached the great city of Athens, he came not as a sightseer, but as a soul-winner. He arrived with open eyes and a broken heart. Athens was in a period of decline in the early first-century. It had a famous university and numerous beautiful buildings, but it wasn’t the influential city it once had been. The city was given over to a “cultured paganism” that was nourished by idolatry, novelty, and philosophy.
The Greek myths spoke of gods and goddesses that, in their own rivalries and ambitions, acted more like petty humans than gods; and there were plenty of deities to choose from! Someone once said that in Athens it was easier to find a god than a man. There was even an altar dedicated to “the unknown god” (sort of like our memorial to the Unknown Soldier) just in case they had missed one. Paul saw that the city was “wholly given to idolatry”—to the worship of false, non-existent gods—and it broke his heart.
So, as always, Paul spoke in the synagogue with the Jews and he witnessed in the marketplace to the Greeks. It didn’t take long for the local philosophers to catch wind of Paul’s preaching, so it was only natural for the Council of the Areopagus (which was responsible for watching over both religion and education in the city) to investigate this “foreign god” Paul was teaching. They courteously invited Paul to present his teaching at an informal meeting of the council on Mars’ Hill. After all, the Bible says that the Athenians “spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas” (Acts 17:21 NIV).
Taking center stage in the Areopagus, Paul cleared his throat and announced: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about” (Acts 17:22-23 NLT).
What an introduction! Paul connects immediately with his audience. He says, “See this god that you worship without even knowing his name? That’s the God I’m going to tell you about and he’s not just a God—he’s THE God!”
Then Paul proceeds to answer the question that would be posed to Billy Graham twenty centuries later: What kind of guy is God?