Sunday, November 09, 2014

CAN YOU KNOW "THE UNKNOWN GOD"?: SCS No. 25


Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 25

(We at Project Dream Again hope these sermonettes bring some measure of peace to your soul and maybe spark a thought you then share with someone else in your life. Stoney Creek Sermonettes are not meant to replace your participation in a faith community.) 



Scripture Lesson for Today: Acts 17:16-34 (NIV)

In Athens

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” 21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Sermonette for Today:

To me this is one of the most interesting stories about Paul in the book of Acts.  Not just because I stood in Greece with my parents in 1964 where this supposedly took place, but because it is an extraordinary account of an unusual encounter with a group of people unlike the people Paul usually engaged with.

Paul and Silas had been forced to leave Thessalonica the capital of Macedonia and they fled to Berea some 50 miles away where again Paul was forced to flee.  Paul went to Athens a distance of 222 miles.  The record in Acts does not say whether he went by ship or road.  Each time Paul had been forced to leave because he was preaching the gospel and the resurrection which infuriated the leaders in the cities.

In Athens he found a group who loved to talk and exchange ideas.  Paul took this as an opportunity to preach a gospel message and to tell them about the risen Savior.

As you can see in the scripture lesson Paul did not have 100% success, but he did have some people become believers including a woman who was important enough that the author of Acts gave us her name.

Paul says we can find God, but can we know God? 

John 17:3 (NIV)

3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

I think it is clear that we can know God and Jesus because it is eternal life.  There are many more scriptures pointing to knowing/relationship with the Father/Son.  Becoming Christ like or Soul Formation is not an easy task.  Learning to live a life that reflects a faith/relationship with Jesus and an indwelling of the Holy Spirit is more than just words.

We can come to know God and we can become intimate with Him if we are willing to submit to His will.  I/me (by which I mean being totally self-centered and self-absorbed) must become “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) In other words you must totally surrender yourself to the Creator.  One would be well to remember the honeymoon will be short and the union will be hard work, but Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 (NIV) “30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


Prayer for Today:

Our Heavenly Father, May we learn to live lives that honor You as You honored us by sending Your Son to live among us. It is in Your Son’s name we pray this prayer. Amen.



© Ed Cooper, November 9 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

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