Thursday, September 29, 2016

Paul at Mars Hill and the Altar to the Unknown God

Paul Preaching at Mars Hill

For Our Wednesday morning prayer meeting I prepared a lesson about Paul and what we can expect in our city as we share with others. 

On his missionary journey Paul found himself in ancient Greece in the city of Athens.

He knew the citizens worshiped many other gods, but rather than preach against them, he spoke with those interested about Jesus, his death, resurrection, and his return to heaven. 

The Bible warns us not to be taken captive by philosophy. Actually, it was the Apostle Paul who warned of the dangers of thinking outside of Christ.  Colossians 3:2  Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. 

Acts 17:16-17 Now when Paul saw the city of Athens was wholly given to idolatry, his spirit was stirred within him. Therefore he disputed in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.

Some of his audience thought he should come to Mars Hill where the religious philosophers met to discuss any new thing.
(For all the Athenians and strangers who were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
Acts 17:22-23 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious and superstitions.  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD; Whom you ignorantly worship.  It is Him declare I unto you.
Paul declared to the interested men, that this God is KNOWN and He is the God of Heaven who made the world, and dwells not in temples made with hands.  Neither is he worshiped with things made with men’s hands. 
Acts 17:28-29 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Therefore then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Deity is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
Paul continued that at times God overlooked this ignorance of graven images, but now He commands all men everywhere to repent:
God has appointed a day to judge the world, and of this He has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised Jesus from the dead.
Acts 17:32  When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear you again of this matter.  Other’s believe on Jesus at Paul’s words.
The Roman Empire and Greece had many gods, and mythology of their interaction with humans.
In the ancient world of Greece, building an altar to the “unknown god” was just another attempt of playing it safe, lest they missed an important god.

Those Greeks who were not satisfied by the public gods could turn to various mystery religions which operated as cults into which members had to be initiated in order to learn their secrets.  Today a common parallel would be our Lodges and Unions. 

There are many “Causes” and projects that a person can get caught up in.  Not all are bad, but they keep you occupied in other things instead of things eternal.  Many are involved in anti-abortion, conservation, or “Save this or that animal or tree.” The Greeks believed in gods of pleasure, and not to take anything to its extreme, but to practice temperance. 

If we are not careful we can see good in many Projects. Philosophies, Programs and teachings and mix them into our Christian Walk and talk. 

What this will do is dilute and water down our faith in Jesus.

When you are thirsty – even muddy water will quench your thirst.  Jesus offers us Living water that is pure and clean.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and Read your Bible because it contains food and drink for your Spirit and your Soul.

Paul knew it was important to zero in on Christ Jesus and eliminate all the falseness of other religious celebrations.

It is so easy to get caught up in the study of the culture of other nations, not realizing that in many instances culture is just another name for “religious practices,” that can take our eyes off of Jesus.

Paul Preached Jesus to the Religious Philosophers on Mar’s hill and while some scoffed, a few took him seriously and believed on Jesus.

What can we learn from this:  As we pray over our city and our nation, understand that many are caught up in various religions and practices that do not include Christ Jesus of the Bible.

We must pray that the blinders of our citizens will be removed, deaf spiritual ears opened, and hearts made tender to receive the truth about Jesus.



Lux G. said...

Indeed we should. Funny how Paul's time and our time are years and years apart but we seem to be having the same problems.

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