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Acts 17_16-34

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Acts 17:16-34

Knowing the Unknown

Secular:

  • RMS TITANIC - SPECIFICATIONS
    • Length: 882 feet, 8 inches/268 meters
    • Gross tonnage: 46,328 tons
    • Total capacity: 3547 passengers and crew, fully loaded
    •  Lifeboat davits: 14 double acting Welin's with Murrays disengaging gear
    • Lifeboats: 20 total

Kind of interesting…

            … but it is about the facts

            … some of us are not satisfied with just the facts…

            … we want to fill in the gaps

-          insert our perspectives

-          insert our understandings

  • Hollywood has made a business of fanciful fantasy… filling in the Gaps..
    • Taking us into the mind of General… on a battlefield…
    • Introducing us to a boxer from Philadelphia and his challenges…
  • Just like the RMS Titanic…
  • Remember the Movie …
  • Romanticized the Titanic… generated a whole story of what happened on board…
  • Jack Dawson… the swarthy young man who gambled his way onto the Ship…
  • …and his beloved Rose… aristocrat trapped in a bad engagement…

  • The nature of humanity… we want to fill in the gaps…
  •  When we turn away from the facts and deal with what we construct… we create something we can manage… based on us…
  • When we stick to the facts we can grow in our understanding… when we stick to the Truth of Scripture we grow in our understanding and relationship with God.

Biblical:

NAU Acts 17:16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean." 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) 22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 "For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps 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 exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' 29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

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Body:

The Shotgun Approach…

NAU Acts 17:16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"-- because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 "For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean." 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)

  • City full of idols… provoked (Angry, infuriated…)
  •  Jeremiah 2:27 Who say to a tree, 'You are my father,' And to a stone, 'You gave me birth.' For they have turned their back to Me, And not their face; But in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.'
    • Father… made of wood… the craft of human hands…
    • Mother… stone… again fashioned by a human…
  •  In an attempt to cover all the bases they had statues every known Greek and Roman god… Zeus, Hermes, Prometheus, Ares… etc…
  • A rifle shoots a single shot… one point of contact with the intended target
  •  A shotgun throws a wide pattern of ‘shot’ metal pellets and takes out a broader area…
  •  This approach that infuriated Paul… was a broad approach… a shotgun approach to faith…
  •  We have many who would consider all the faiths of the world equal…
    • It doesn’t matter which statue you bow down to…
    • It doesn’t matter which god you deify…
    • Our society has a plethora of statutes… and tolerates them all…
    • B’hai is a group that sees all religiosity as valuable…
    • Even within “Christianity” there are a large number – shotgun approaches…
      • Wide road theologies
      • Many ways to God…
  • Why does it infuriate Paul?
  • Why should it infuriate you?
  • Exo 20: 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me
  • 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-- by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 "He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
  • And as we look at a perishing world… infuriated as Paul was infuriated at those who would take a shotgun approach to faith….
  • We as believers in Jesus Christ can know…
  • NAU Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
  • Like the imagination… that filled in the story of the Titanic people want to make up their own story about God… romanticized… made order… happy ending and all….
  • The Athenian Philosophers called Paul “The idle babbler” but idle babblers … are those who speak boldly about things they do not know…. Paul knows Christ crucified, risen and gloriously ascended… and speaks with the precision of high caliber bullet… NO SHOTGUN

The Blind Approach

22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 "For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

  • What spurs on this shotgun approach…
  • God reveals himself… in a general sense…
  • Romans 1: 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
  •  And so they seek… this UNKNOWN GOD…
  • NAU Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

  •  Heb 11: 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
  •   The Blind Approach… seeking… desiring… butnot knowing…
  •  Understanding that GOD is… next step find out about God…

 

The Intellectual Approach

24 "The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps 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 exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' 29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.

  • Paul… Let me introduce you to the Creator…
    •  we saw how we are all without excuse before God…
    • We can see the hand of God on creation…
      • That we were not once amoeba or guppies…
      • But we are created…
    • Look at the facts…
      • 1) 2nd Law of Thermodynamics… reoccurring again and again in God creation….
        • It points towards the fact that everything is moving from order to chaos
        • Opposite to the theories of evolution…
      • 2) If against the laws of science and nature… then their must be physical proof… (fossil records)
        • Evolution is a theory… not a law… despite the way it may have been presented in Science class…
        • To verify the theory you need to have cooraberating evidence…
        • The natural place would be in the fossil record….
        • But even staunch evolutionists such as David Kitts at University of Oklahoma have to concede a BIG problem…
        • He said, “Despite the bright promise that palaeontology provides a means of ‘seeing’ evolution, it has provided some nasty difficulties for evolutionists the most notorious of which is the presence of ‘gaps’ in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and palaeontology does not provide them.”
  • Paul explains to us where the creation record is kept…
  • Scripture which reveals that it is “God who made the world and all things in it…”
  • NAU Psalm 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God, 6 Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever;
  •  NAU Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him.

 

  • Paul… Let me introduce you to the Ruler…
  • He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;
  • NAU Daniel 4:34 "… and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'

  • The folly of idolatry is seen in the denial of God’s infinity…
  •  Paul… Let me introduce you to the Giver… Provider…
  • nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things
  • NAU Psalm 104:14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, 15 And wine which makes man's heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man's heart.
  • God the provider… talk to me about idols…
  • NAU James 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

  • Paul… Let me introduce you to the Controller…

  • James 4: 13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."
  • God is interested in the affairs of his children… in the affairs of his creation….
  • God in control
  •  Paul… Let me introduce you to the Revealer…
  • NAU Romans 2:14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

  • Through the small quite voice… the imprint of the creator

  • His witness in creation… his power demonstrated
  •  Paul appealed to their intellect and said…
    • Can you not see God the Ruler
    • Can you not see God the Giver – Provider
    • Can you not see or trust in God the controller
    • Can you not see God revealed in Creation, and in Conscience…
  • Paul… let me tell you about the God of Revealed in Scripture

The Revealed Approach

 30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

  • This is what God has said… God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness
  • God has revealed his holiness in Scripture…
    • His demand of righteousness
    • His demand of repentance
  • God has revealed his salvation in Scripture…
    • His provision of the Word of God
    • His sacrifice of his Son
  • NAU John 5:22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

  • Paul is saying… THIS UNKNOWN GOD…
    • Exists
    • He has been revealed in Creation
    • He Has been revealed in his Son
    • He Has been revealed in Scripture…
  • This is not about an Unknown God…
  •  The truth has been revealed…
  •  The revealed approach….

Conclusion:

  • Now what are you going to do about it?
    • Exists
    • He has been revealed in Creation
    • He Has been revealed in his Son
    • He Has been revealed in Scripture…
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