The notes from this sermon are for your personal Bible study. The sermon title is God is God and You Are Not.
The text for this sermon is Acts 17:22-34.
22. The Areopagus is also known as the “hill of Ares.” Ares is the Greek god of war. The Court of the Areopagus had extensive authority over the civil and religious life in Athens. At this time in history, Athens was no longer the leading city in Greece. They had been passed by Corinth who now held that distinction. In the time of Paul, it exercised jurisdiction especially in matters of religion and morality. Sounds a lot like the Pharisees.
Religious. Some theologians believe Paul was either being respectful or sarcastic. I’m leaning towards sarcastic. Why? Some translations actually use the word superstitious in place of religious. Now, Paul was respectful in the sense that he took into consideration the context of this group of Greek philosophers. He also takes care to not attack them or bash their city. He wants to point out their sin and push them to Jesus.
23. Paul had checked out the city carefully studying it until he was heartbroken at what he saw in the city. Buildings, temples, homes all had some acknowledgment of one of their gods. They had a god for everything. They just did not believe in One God who ruled over everything. One problem with Greek gods is that they have human limitations. They are prone to human emotions and temptations. There is no shortage of stories about gods involved in adultery. These gods were also very prideful. These gods still had to eat and sleep – human limitations. The only god-like thing about these gods is that they had supernatural powers. The Greek people believed in all these gods and would live their life trying not to anger any one of these gods. They even had an altar dedicated to the “unknown god” in case they happened to forget one of them. The problem with serving so many gods is that while serving one, you will inevitably torque off another and you are likely to become confused because in serving so many gods, you are likely to never get to know them by their full character. You will miss out on relationships with them because you are too busy living in fear of their wrath. The crime Paul brings against them is that the glory due to God alone, they have given that glory to other demons that they believed inhabited the images to which they directed their worship.
What the Greeks were doing is not much different from what people do today.
This I proclaim to you: Paul is about to bring it.
24. God is the Creator of all things. He made the world and everything in it including all mankind. God is superior to anything else that might be worshiped. Any other god is lesser to the One, True, Holy God. God does not live in temples made by human hands. Because of the Holy Spirit, Paul says in Romans that the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you. The Holy Spirit then guides you in all thoughts and decisions because He is pushing you to conform to the image of Christ.
25. Here is something that goes against Greek philosophy. God does not need you. God does not need anything. God does not need food, sleep, sex, money, or anything else that humans need. God sustains Himself. God in His grace gives to all people saved and lost, elect and non-elect life and breath and everything. We call this common grace. In fact, God did not give you life and breath only when you were born. God determines whether or not you will wake up tomorrow. It is up to God and God alone whether or not you will stop breathing.
26. God is sovereign over history. God made from Adam every nation, every culture, every ethnic group, every sub-culture. God also determines periods of time:
- The conquering of nations by Alexander the Great
- The rule of the Roman Empire
- The US won WWI and WWII
- The fall of the Berlin Wall
- The rise and fall of a country’s economic system
- How long a person will live.
- When a person is born, where they grow up, where they will go to school and work, who they will marry or if they will get married, have children, where they will die – all determined by God.
- It is not by accident that you were born when you were born. If God wanted to, He could have made you Jewish and persecuted by Saul. He could have had you alive in during the 1500s and John Calvin could have been your pastor. He could have allowed you to live in England when Charles Spurgeon was alive. You could have been the first martyr in history for sharing the gospel. However, God wanted you here, in this city, in this century for the works that He predestined you to accomplish.
27. They are like a blind person groping in the darkness yet not really sure of what they are looking for. They cling to whatever they can find whether or not it will eventually destroy them…money, work, sex, marriage, alcohol. People seek to make these things their functional savior and neglect to find the only Savior.
29. All people are created in the image of God. Since that is true, God does not dwell in statues, paintings, nativity sets, the cross you wear on your neck, the fish on the back of your car. God is omnipresent. Nothing that a human can create can hold God.
34. God did not bring immediate judgment on the world in past times. He overlooked their ignorance and did not wipe them from the face of the earth.
A day is coming that God has predetermined and He will judge the world. God will hold every person ever born accountable.
The resurrection of Jesus is the center for God’s redemptive plan for all of history. The resurrection of Jesus is what is central to our faith. Jesus is alive. There is no one else – Confucius – dead. Plato – dead. Muhammad – dead. Buddha – dead. The resurrection places Jesus at the right hand of God, showing His authority as ultimate judge and the giver of salvation.
Paul is ramping up to go into the gospel. But because he mentions the resurrection of Jesus, he is shut down. Some people mocked him. Others dismissed him. Some believed. Some followed him.
How are you pushing all people to Jesus?
Regardless of what they say or think about you, are you still obedient to the Commission, Jesus has given you?
You are not God. You are not anyone’s functional savior. You cannot fix people. Only Christ can. Your job is to push people to Jesus.
Nothing else will satisfy you. There is no magic formula. There is no blue pill.
Money will come and go.
Work will get tiring.
Sex will satisfy for a moment but will not sustain you because you will want it again.
Alcohol is like food. It was never designed to sustain you because you eat and drink and then you have to eat and drink again in a few hours.
Marriage does not provide you with a happy ending. Your spouse is not your superhero. Marriage is work. If you want a happy ending, work for it. Marriage will quickly show you how selfish you are and what parts of you need conforming to the image of Christ.
God is God and You Are Not.