Pastor’s Corner

Pastor Paul

Topic: The unknown God                             Text: Acts 17:22-31. , John 14:15-21.

 

Intro: It was said that if God is powerful but is not loving, he will not help you. If he is loving but not powerful, he cannot help you.  Indeed it is hard to speak about something that to us is not guide clear and understandable. To speak about God whose very nature is hard to comprehend because we want to describe an entity which is not limited in time and space? Is hard to explain. Is there one God in three, 3 is a human term, and yet 3 in one. It is a little bit confusing. Let us pray.

 

Lesson: 

  1. The unknown God. It is hard to tell if Paul’s famous speech at the Areopagus is a triumph or a disaster in evangelism. He has done his preparation well- one of the basic rules of preaching is to know your context. Hard to let the people sing. Happy birthday when the occasion is a wedding or let the people sing, past me not O Gentle savior and the occasion is a birthday celebration. To preach well means you know the people that you are talking to, their need, their beliefs and so Paul walked around the city and talked and listened and pick up on the concerns of the people to whom he is talking and the kind of religious language they are used to. So he hasn’t simply used a set speech, but is deliberately trying to tap into the view of his audience who are mostly Greeks. At this time Paul was stuck in Athens, waiting for Silas and Timothy. Being Paul, he does not take a holiday and is willing to share his faith in Jesus and with anyone who is willing to listen.  Sharing one’s faith seems to be a bygone ministry. Clearly  to the Athenians who love to debate and to listen  are more than happy for him to share his ideas  and soon he had a big crowd that surrounds him. Paul starts cautiously, politely and formally, with compliment.  He had noticed he said that they are a deeply religious people. The audience nod and are pleased. They are polytheistic, they worship many gods, Indeed, Paul goes on, and they seemed to be prepared to worship anything. Which is also true today in the secular world. People will worship money, yourself, your houses, your cars, and your social identity, your cultural and social lifestyle.  The American dream can either lift you up or pull you down. They do not believe in the afterlife but the immortality of the soul which is divided into 3 parts. One part does not necessarily affect the other. So the body can do anything because it does not affect the Spirit. So they are free to do anything as long as they give offering to their many gods. Like the indulgences in church history. If you want to commit sin tomorrow pay for it and get a certificate of pardon. The Greeks are famous for their philosophy of Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die. Well, the audience frown wondering if that is a compliment, or does in fact contain a hint of criticism. Throughout, Paul does this subtle, sharp blending of flattery and criticism. , first complimenting them on the array of altars  they have set up, then telling them that altars are useless , or agreeing with them that all people share a common humanity  derive from God , but n telling them that they are not perfect and they need to repent and be judged. One of the hardest thing for a preacher to do is to tell his audience that they have to repent and ask forgiveness, for it supposes that they are bad people, .wicked people.  It is not politically correct. It is like how to lost friends and make people angry.  Paul is building towards his climax. One of the god’s they are giving offering has no name, no particular power, like a god of love, god of war, god of the harvest, god of the underground or hades but he is the only true God who sent his son Jesus Christ, this God came in human form, gave his life for us, who resurrected from the death, rose up to heaven, and now sits at the right hand of God who will judge the living and the dead.
  2. The God they do not want. But the crowd are not ready for this. A man like us is God.  A man who cannot undo his old nature.  A man who seldom forgive, who loves selectively. What more is it to forgive others and give his life for others. It is not easy to put away falsehood. Politics today is mostly about character assassination, wrap in seemingly love for country.  God knows how many people are destroyed because of their broken nature .What mountains of snobbery and sham, of heartbreak, masking behind the worldly pretense. The Greeks like novelty, variety. They want to control God through the service that they offer. To the Athenians that is best done by keeping all their options open and performing sacrifices at as many altars as possible.   Matthew 5:6 says. . Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Jesus is the best gift of God to the world. Jesus is the best Love that the unknown God gave to us. . Jesus is the power, so that we can say with Paul, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. The relationship we have with one another, the fellowship that we do, the time we spent in worship and the ministries we are doing, the preaching we are sharing is nothing without the transforming power and the majesty and the Glory of the one we worship and adore. Who sent his Holy Spirit to be with us as we worship him in Spirit and in truth?  We do not worship a statue, who can do nothing for us.  In the first place he is a creation of human hands.  The imago die or the image of God in us must come in the functionality of man’s receptivity and derivation of the expression of God’s character in human behavior. People must see Jesus in us.  To believe that God might focus all truth and meaning in one man Jesus, is hard, but perhaps mostly because, we like the Athenians, like novelty more than commitment, like the idea of controlling God more than the idea of giving God control over our lives.  Life is God’s prerogative not ours. Yes, Jesus said, whoever comes to me will never be hungry or thirsty.  Let us always give God all the glory and the praise that rightfully belongs to Him and by doing so we can enjoy Him forever. Amen. .