Summary: Paul is in Athens.
a. It’s been said that GOD is like Coke...He’s the real thing. GOD is like General Electric...He brings things to life. GOD is like Bayer Aspirin...He works wonders. GOD is like Hallmark Cards...He cares enough to send the very best. GOD is like Tide...He gets the stains out that others leave behind. GOD is like Dial Soap...Aren’t you glad you know him? Don’t you wish everyone did? GOD is like Sears...He has everything. Finally, GOD is like Scotch Tape... You can’t see him, but you know he’s there.
b. We laugh this morning, but as I read that I thought about Paul, who was trying to explain God to a group of people who had no idea who He was, what He did, or what He was going to do. Paul had to try to find a way to present the gospel to the people of Athens in a format that they would ultimately understand.
a. The citizens gathered on Mars Hill to listen to Paul had little to look forward to from religion. The Greek and Roman system of worship had been dying for several hundred years, and there was a definite rising tide of secularism and self-indulgence in the Roman Empire.
b. Many people had put their faith in the Caesars, the mighty Roman Empire, but more and more rumors spread of debauchery and lawlessness among the highest Roman officials.
c. America 2003 AD is very much like the Roman Empire in 50 AD. People have grown farther and farther away from God and His Word. We are witnessing the increasing secularization of society, a weakening sense of individual responsibility and duty, and a loss of faith in our social institutions. Even observers with no particular attachment to religion are alarmed. The noted socialist Michael Harrington wrote an entire book, The Politics at God’s Funeral, to ask the question of how society will hold itself together in the absence of a dominant religion.
d. The Stoic and Epicurean Philosophers, these great thinkers have been replaced by Professors and Political Pundits, but what shook the foundations of the Roman Empire in the early church is just as powerful to shake the foundations of the United States today.
e. That’s what we are going to look at today, in depth, as we continue our study through the Book of Acts. Today, we are going to finish up chapter 17, and I have entitled today’s message – Proclaiming the Unknown God.
f. There’s a place to take notes in your handout if you would like, and if you need a Bible, just raise your hand, and we will get you one. Let’s read, starting at verse 16 of Acts chapter 17.
i. 16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, "What does this babbler want to say?" Others said, "He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods," because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean." 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who 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 the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ’For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."