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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012

The Unknown God - June 10, 2005


Luke Chapter 17

Basis of sermon that I preached on Mars Hill in Athens 3/05

Sermon of the Week – September 12, 2010

When Paul came to Athens he had arrived at the intelligentsia capitol of the ancient world and, it was a city given entirely to Idolatry. It is said that it was easier to find a god in Athens than a man. Athens was the best example of Paul’s statement: “The world through its wisdom knew not God.”

And that is still true today. All of the rocket scientists of this modern world working over time day and night for a lifetime would never be able to figure out the combination on the locks of the pearly gates.  The answer to that riddle is found only in the foolishness of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

It may be that the best title for a sermon about Paul preaching on Mars Hill would be, “The Unknown God.” But another title just as appropriate would be a sermon about “Strange Things,” because that was the reason he was invited to speak before the Supreme Court of Athens at the Areopagus known also as Mars Hill. The judges themselves were known as Areopagites. The things Paul preached may have been strange things to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers at that time, but what he preached would also seem just as strange to many today both in and out of a modern day church. We can read Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill in a minute or two. It is evident that he was not invited to this summit meeting to stand before the Supreme Court of Athens just to make a two-minute speech. The speech recorded in Acts seventeen is merely the outline of the message.


              One of the major points that Paul made in his sermon on Mars Hill was when he gave them his view of creation. He spoke of the God who made the world and every thing in it. In that statement he must have told them about the first chapter of Genesis. He told them that Moses said, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I have heard it said that the universe came into existence with a BIG BANG! I was not there and don’t know. But I do know that when the Lord Jesus returns there is going to be a BIG BANG, because Peter said, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in which the heaven and the earth will pass away with a great noise.” Ladies and Gentlemen, the saints on that day as they are caught up to meet the Lord in the air are going to get a real BANG out of that one.  

Just in case they did not believe Moses he gave them an argument that should convince them if he told them what he would tell the Romans later on. The invisible things since the creation are clearly seen being perceived by the things that are made even His everlasting power and divinity that they should be without excuse. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools. He had also used that same argument to the pagans of the city of Lystra who worshipped Jupiter when he told them they should turn to the living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that in them is.

Think of the power of God’s word. Six times in Genesis One, God said let something be done and then that statement and it was so. When He said let there be light, it was so. When God said let the waters be gathered together in one place and let the dry land appear, it was so. When God said let the earth bring forth grass and fruit whose seed is in its self, it was so. When God ordained the sun and the moon to give light for the earth and to indicate seasons, it was so. When God said let every living thing bring forth fruit the living creature after its kind, cattle and creeping things indicating there was no evolution involved, it was so. When God created man He told him he was to have dominion over the earth and gave him everything to get the job done, it was so. On the Day of Judgment all of mankind will learn something about the Bible they should have known during their sojourn on earth.  IT WAS SO!   

As to what happened when God created the heaven and the earth the statement of God to Job is interesting. God said, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth and the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy?” What was the song the morning stars sang together when they saw the universe come into existence?  I was not there but surely it must have been, “How Great Thou Art.” And what word was it the sons of God shouted for joy when they saw planets, worlds, stars, constellations, and milky ways tumble from His fingertips in endless profusion? What word was it? Without a doubt it must have been, “YAHOO!”


Another point in Paul’s outline for the sermon on Mars Hill was the creation of man. Many today formulate their belief as to how mankind arrived on the earth by the testimony of the scientists and scholars. I too believe that the scholars understand these things much better than we common folk and I look to them for spiritual guidance also in such matters as the creation of man. I truly believe that most rational people would agree that two of the greatest scholars that ever lived were Doctor Moses and Doctor Paul. What scholar do you know who ever gave to the world such a document as Doctor Moses when he gave the Ten Commandments? And what about the scholarship of Paul? He wrote about one hundred chapters of the New Testament?

Now let us note what these two intellectual giants said about the arrival of man on planet earth. Number one: Doctor Moses said, “God formed man of the dust of the ground.” Doctor Paul agreed and said, “God made of one all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth.”  Number two: Doctor Moses said, that God breathed into the nostrils of the man. He did not say God breathed into the nostrils of a tadpole. Doctor Paul agreed and said, "That God gave the one He made breath."   Number three: Doctor Moses said that the man God made became a living soul and Doctor Paul agreed and said; God gave him life. Doctor Moses and Doctor Paul both agree as to how life began on planet earth. There is no way this description regarding creation of the human race can be confused with evolution.

People today get all confused with various ages of time by throwing such terms around as the Cenozoic age, and the Mesozoic age, and the Paleozoic age, and the Proterozoic age, and the Archeozoic age. People who reject the teaching of Doctor Moses and Doctor Paul are living in the Dumbozoic age.     

The worst tragedy in American history was not the bombing of Pearl Harbor, nor was it the destruction of the twin towers. It is the teaching of evolution in the school system in three different areas. The first is in morals. Evolution teaches that men are animals. Animals are not bound by a moral code. A racehorse finishes his racing days and is turned out to stud. No one considers him to be a fornicator no matter how many mares he may be bred to because he is an animal. Since humans are taught they are animals there is no right or wrong. We make our own morals. Anything goes. Several years ago the husband of a popular actress died and at the funeral several of her ex husbands attended the funeral like one big happy family. One person I know observed; they live like a bunch of dogs. I don’t think they should be offended by such a remark since that is the way they view themselves; animals.

            When it comes to clothing again the animal instincts take over. A dog wears a fur coat all year around and lets his private parts hang out and is not ashamed. Since people are taught they are animals they are not ashamed to let most everything hang out even in some church services.

            Another result of evolution is violence. Since we are animals the law of the jungle takes over. It is the survival of the fittest. If someone has something you want and if you are strong enough, take it. There is no regard for law and order. Success will come to those who are strong enough to stomp on others.

            Another result of evolution is atheism. Some church members try to mix evolution and Christianity. You cannot mix oil and water. If God made man through the evolution process then the first three chapters of Genesis is a myth including the promise in Genesis 3:15 concerning the promise of the seed of the woman that will smash the head of the serpent.   


Another point in the sermon of Paul on Mars Hill was the main reason they brought him to this summit meeting. He preached Jesus and the resurrection.  If he spoke about what Jesus said about the resurrection, he must have told them what the Lord Jesus said when He told them in a message at Jerusalem, “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.” He preached Jesus and the resurrection.

In speaking of the blessed hope of the righteous his report of the words of Jesus to Martha should have been inspirational. Whosoever liveth and believeth on Me shall never die. The strong implication of this is that at death only the body dies and the real person is still alive and just as conscious of where he is as he was while in the body. He preached Jesus and the resurrection.

He must have told them also about the three temporary resurrections: the son of the widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and the resurrection of the rotting corpse of Lazarus who had been dead four days. He preached Jesus and the resurrection. And then for special emphasis on the certainty of the resurrection Paul must have told them about the predictions of Jesus concerning His own resurrection when he said that He must go up to Jerusalem and be delivered to the elders, chiefs, and scribes and they shall kill Him and the third day He shall be raised up. He preached Jesus and the resurrection.

Since the Epicureans were there he must have touched on one of their main doctrines when he said what he would tell the Corinthians about five years later; if there is no resurrection we might as well eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.  He preached Jesus and the resurrection.

How could he have omitted the testimony of the angels who said, “I know ye seek Jesus who hath been crucified?  He is not here for He is risen even as He said. Come see the place where the Lord lay and go quickly and tell His disciples He is risen from the dead.” He preached Jesus and the resurrection. Ladies and Gentlemen, Paul told the audience on Mars Hill the same thing he tells us today. Jesus is alive.   


Another point in Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill was what he said about the establishment of the church. This was what he referred to when he told the Athenians that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands. And as he said that he probably pointed to the great temple called the Parthenon. In other words God dwells in a temple not made with hands. Later on he would tell the Corinthians about that temple not made with hands when he said, “Know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you.” The word temple means sanctuary. As Christians we are the Sanctuary not made with hands. God dwells in that temple not made with hands. As Christians when we assemble to worship we are in the sanctuary just as much, even if we assemble in a cow pasture, as we are in a physical building that some call the sanctuary. Jesus never died for one nail, one brick, or one shingle, of any auditorium made with hands. He died for the Sanctuary not made with hands.

So Paul preached about the establishment of the church. He must have told them about the day of Pentecost, the day the church was born. The greatest day that ever took place in the history of the church. No other day was like it and will be like it until that day when the trumpet sounds and the blood washed throng of the redeemed; a number no man can number is caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: to be forever with the Lord.

Certainly Paul must have recited what happened on that great day. He told how Peter preached and told the story of the life of Jesus. Listen to him as he says, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by many works and wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know; Him being delivered up by the determinate counsel and fore knowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay: whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.”

Then he gave them the soul searing charge, “Let all the house of Israel that God hath made Him both Lord and Christ this Jesus whom ye have crucified.”  At this point they cried out, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” The answer was given to them that day and to all that were afar off as many as the Lord our God shall call unto Him, as long as the world shall stand. Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. They then that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls, and they continued stedfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Certainly this must have been a part of the message Paul preached on Mars Hill. Ladies and Gentlemen, when that message is preached today, many will still say the same thing they said when Paul preached it, “Thou bringest strange things to our ears.”   


The final point in the sermon of Paul on Mars Hill was repentance and the final Judgment. Paul informed them that God hath commanded men all everywhere that they should repent inasmuch as He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained whereof He hath given assurance unto all men in that He hath raised Him from the dead.        

Paul is saying that we all need to live our lives in view of the fact that the Judgment Day is coming and we all will give account. When a preacher preaches to a modern day audience the message of repentance and judgment it is no different now than it was then. Thou bringest strange things to our ears. Modern man is very familiar with two statements in the Bible. You hear it many times. When some one on television comes down hard on a popular sin of the day someone is going to either say, “Judge not or Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.” By hiding behind these two verses like Adam hid behind the trees of the Garden of Eden they feel secure and able to ward off any statement in scripture about sin and an ungodly life style.

Paul could have mentioned how repentance is stressed many times. John the Baptist came preaching the message of repentance. Repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. When John was locked up, Jesus began His ministry with the same message. Repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus said, "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish,” and then He repeated it two verses later. Except ye repent ye shall all like wise perish. What a jolting statement about repentance if he told the story of the rich man in torment who asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth and tell his five brothers to repent lest they wind up in hell with him. Again Jesus said in the Great Commission of Luke; “Repentance must be preached.”  Peter stressed repentance in his first two sermons in the book of Acts. He said, “Repent ye and be baptized for the remission of sins.” and then in the second sermon he said, “Repent ye and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.” I won’t waste any time on those who may think these two statements of Peter gives them a choice on whether to be baptized or not, except to say, “Repent Ye.”  Peter said again in his second epistle, “God is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but is long suffering to you not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

He not only preached repentance, but also the day appointed for Judgment.  His message to the audience on Mars Hill was the same as it was to the Corinthians, We must all be made manifest before the Judgment seat of Christ, that each may receive the things done in the body whether it be good or bad. Could any one doubt that he warned them as he did in Hebrews chapter nine: It is appointed unto men once to die and after this the Judgment. No doubt he also reminded them of the word of the Lord Jesus how He said, “The word that I spake unto them the same shall judge them at the last day.”         

What better way to put the finishing touches on this part of his sermon than to tell of the final judgment when the Lord said, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the angels with Him then shall He sit on the throne of His glory and He shall judge the sheep on His right hand and the goats on the left.” The sheep will be invited to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world and the goats told to depart into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. That would have been enough to cause any audience then or now to say, “Thou bringest strange things to our ears.”


The conclusion of the whole matter is when they heard of the resurrection of the dead some mocked: but others said we will hear thee concerning this yet again. To those who mocked the whole issue of salvation was a big joke—a joke that will wind up a tragedy. Others put off the decision. It is always dangerous to put off this most important decision until tomorrow.  However the message was not without results. There were some that believed, among whom was Dionysius the Areopgite and a woman named Damaris and others with them. Dionysius was one of the judges who heard Paul’s sermon that day on Mars Hill.

Again it needs to be noted that Paul may have been thinking about Athenian wisdom when he went next to Corinth. It was there that he said, “The world through its wisdom knew not God. For it was the good pleasure of God through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Thus Paul went out from among them.