Sermons

Summary: God wants us to help other people know: 1. That He is glorious (vs. 23-25). 2. That He is mysterious (vs. 26-27). 3. That He is generous (vs. 25-31). 4. That He is righteous (vs. 30-31).

What's God Really Like?

The Book of Acts - Part 59

Acts 17:22-31

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - September 21, 2014

BACKGROUND:

*In this chapter, Paul was on his second missionary journey, and was now in Athens alone. He was sent there mainly to keep him safe from a Christ-rejecting mob at Berea. And while Paul was at Athens, he did what he always did: Everything he possibly could do to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ.

*So vs. 17 tells us that Paul "reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there." Then in vs. 18, we see that "he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection."

*For this reason, in vs. 19-20, the philosophers brought Paul to the "Areopagus" or "Hill of Mars" to explain himself. Then vs. 22-23 show us that Paul began his explanation in an interesting way:

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;" (or "too superstitious" or "as superstitious as possible") (Either translation is possible.)

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:"

*William Barclay tells us that "there were many altars to unknown gods in Athens. Six hundred years before this time, a terrible pestilence had fallen on the city which nothing could halt.

*Then a Cretan poet named Epimenides came forward with a plan: A flock of black and white sheep were let loose throughout the city from the Areopagus. Wherever each sheep lay down, it was sacrificed to the god of the nearest shrine. And if a sheep lay down nowhere near the shrine of a known god it was sacrificed to 'The Unknown God.'" (1)

*I know that sounds ridiculous, and it was ridiculous. But that just reminds us how desperately these people needed Jesus. Let’s think about that as we read vs. 22-31.

INTRODUCTION:

*Yesterday I thought back to the time when I was in high school. I was just as lost as these people in Athens. I truly thought that Jesus was just a myth like Zeus and Hercules.

*And I remember this guy in my fraternity: Robbie Smith. He was a great guy, good athlete, straight arrow. But my friends and I called him "Crazy Robbie Smith," because he had this crazy idea that he knew God in a personal way. He even thought that God was living in his heart.

*I thank God that about 6 years later I found out that "Crazy Robbie" wasn’t crazy after all. He really did know God. Do you know God? If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, then the answer is "yes!" Christians: We know Him! And God wants us to help other people know what He's really like.

1. So first: Help other people know that God is glorious.

[1] Our God is glorious in countless ways! For example, He is glorious as the Supreme Creator.

*As Paul said in vs. 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." The Lord Himself put it this way in Isaiah 66 and Acts 7:49-50:

49. "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest?

50. Has My hand not made all these things?"

*The Lord God is the Supreme Creator over and above all of His creation. And how glorious He must be to have created this universe!

*Raymond McHenry gave the example of the wonder of the human brain, and said: "To simply count the synapses in your brain, at a rate of one per second would take thirty-two million years." (2)

*Just a few months before he died in 2003, evangelist Bill Bright said, "Even though I’ve always believed in heaven and hell, after I became a believer, I gave little thought to it. But in recent months I’ve been writing on heaven and hell. My logic is this: The God whom we worship created at least 100 billion galaxies -- some astronomers would say 200 billion." (In 2016, the Astrophysical Journal of October 13th revealed a new estimate of 2 trillion galaxies in the universe! The new sky census used data from the Hubble space telescope and other observatories to conclude that the universe has about 10 times more galaxies than previously thought.)

*And Bill Bright said, "Do we give God credit? They say it was the Big Bang. But it was this great Creator God who made all this majesty and glory. Can you imagine, then, what he’s done to create heaven?" No, We can't begin to imagine it all, for 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'' -- beauty and magnificence beyond anything our little finite minds can imagine." (3)

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