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August 13, 2020 1:00 am
Like in our day to 1st century, Greeks were looking for answers.
The apostle Paul declared to this group of people gathered on Mars Hill. You've search for the truth of origins, the truth of the supernatural. He says, I'm here to give you the Rosetta Stone, the one to translate your questions into meaning. His name is Jesus Christ. And this wonderful, courageous grand ambassador of Christ there at the area.
Ophiuchus says to this crowd and to all of us. My God, is more than a month. My God made it on.
The apostle Paul arrived in Athens and found a group of citizens who were eager to know truth.
They studied philosophy and they searched for wisdom wherever they could find it. They also believed in a myriad of gods and had idols to all of them. And just to make sure they didn't miss any. They had one entitled to the unknown God. When Paul saw that monument, he used it as an opportunity to introduce the citizens of Athens to the one true God. This is wisdom for the heart.
And today, Stephen Davy opens to that account in the Book of Acts and brings you this lesson.
He's calling introducing the creator, hoping your Bible to the Book of Acts, as Stephen brings you today's Bible lesson.
We go back to X and let me set the stage by taking you back in time to 17 08 when Napoleon occupied Egypt, that vast empire, his greatness had, for the most part, waned. By that time, he brought with him and that occupation a team of scientists and archeologists. He was searching for clues to ancient pasts. He was looking for knowledge and an astute learner. He wouldn't pass this opportunity up until he had his men digging about on one particular occasion.
Not archeologists, but soldiers who were demolishing a small wall stumbled across one of the greatest discoveries of archeological history.
They discovered the Rosetta Stone. Now, for centuries, Egypt's past was shrouded in mystery, primarily because its records were written in Egyptian hieroglyphs or the hieroglyphic form of writing. And no one knew that form. And so no one could translate all of the vast writings that were still extant that Rosetta Stone was the key to unlocking the mystery of Egypt. So that parchments could be translated everything from how to prepare the mummies as they did for eternity. So they suppose to planting and farming techniques, to medical journals, to even love poems. The Rosetta Stone was the key because on that three foot by two foot black stone at the very top in hieroglyphs was a message. Of course, it was not understandable. In the middle section of that stone was a cursive form of hieroglyphs, still not understandable.
But the bottom section of the stone was written in Greek. That opened the world of this ancient empire. And they're still translating and studying in light of that wonderful discovery, the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.
What you have in front of you and X Chapter 17 is the apostle Paul standing before the Athenians, and he is surrounded by centuries of idolatry. Athens alone had more than thirty thousand gods carved into its buildings, lining its main thoroughfares.
One writer cryptically remarked that it would be easier to find a God than a man in Athens.
The Greeks, as a civilization, had searched desperately to unlock the mysteries of the universe and the supernatural. But even their passing on communicated to them a language that they did not understand until some six hundred years passed the zenith of this empire. The apostle Paul comes and he says, I have someone to introduce to you. He is the Rosetta Stone. His name is Jesus Christ.
And he will unlock the mystery of the supernatural to all who placed their faith in him. In our last discussion, we went back in history to a time when at the amenities that Creten poet sought to come up with a way to to save Athens from a terrible plague. Six hundred years before the time when Paul stood at the area spigots on Mars Hill that caught outdoor court.
Six hundred years before Paul's time, there was a terrible epidemic. They didn't know what to do. But epit entities came up with an idea. And so he came to the area, offered us on a given time with a flock of sheep. And he let the sheep go. The idea was that the angry gods would lure them. You remember we looked at this and and they would sacrifice what the sheep, wherever they lay to the nearest God or the nearest temple. The only problem was many sheep laid out where there was no temple nearby or statue. And so they assumed that they had missed the God that was angry.
And so they erected six hundred years before the time of Paul. A monument and inscribed upon it the words to the unknown God.
And they sacrificed the sheep there.
Well, Paul now, after centuries of silence, announces as we began to uncover last discussion time that he indeed knew the name of the unknown God, and that name would become the Rosetta Stone that men and women, boys and girls could use to translate the events of their lives into meaning.
Now, we looked at the first point of his sermon last time. Let's go back to verse 24. Paul declared.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. And I made the first point of the sermon by simply rewording it to say, my God is more than a monument. He is alive. You go back to verse 18 of that chapter and you discover the theme of Paul's preaching as Jesus and the Resurrection. You see, he's saying, in effect, that up amenities had basically the right idea. He just used the wrong parts.
There was an epidemic.
There was a plague. But the plague was sin and the epidemic was everlasting death.
There was an angry God that they did not know that demanded the death of a lamb sheep to satisfy his holy wrath. But Jesus, the one that Paul now preaches, was that spotless lamb who voluntarily wandered into the path and wrath of that holy, angry God.
And he died so he could pay the penalty, freeing us. From that epidemic of everlasting death. But he goes on to say that Lamb came back to life. He is now the lord of heaven.
And the Lord of Earth, my God, is more than a monument. Now let's move on to the second point of his sermon. I have reworded it to simply say this.
My God made it all in order to understand the context behind what Paul is declaring to the Athenians, it would help us to understand what we call their world view. Their world view had shaped their thinking and defined their God or their gods. And though the world view held by the Athenians is still very popular today by use of pictures, we're going to take a look at not only this world view, but a few others as we set the stage for an understanding of our creator God. The first world view that actually would be applied to the Athenians is polytheism the hand. And this picture represents God. Polytheism means there are more than one gods in the universe. We just don't happen to know who they are. Or we may think we know who they are. But as the Athenians felt, they probably left one of them out. This is the world view of.
The world of Athens, as you decry the biblical definition of monotheism, one God, you lose any hope of ever defining whatever God there is out there.
So you would be led to polytheism as many are. Let me give you some other world views since we're on this track. And Diesem is the belief that one God made the world and left it alone. You sort of have the hand of God waving goodbye. The probably the most famous DST in American society was Thomas Jefferson, a brilliant, brilliant man. And we had the opportunity to to do a little study of him and travel to see his home. But he was a ideas that is, he didn't believe in the miraculous intervention of gotten affairs of man. And of course, one very important miracle is the resurrection of Jesus Christ the night the incarnation, obviously, because that would be a miracle. What's interesting, though, is his brain intellect. He from from Greek manuscripts and Latin, composed his own gospels, and they have it in extant the Jefferson Bible. And I bought a copy of it. Here's how his Bible ends now. In the place where he was crucified, there was a garden and in the garden, a new sepulcher wherein was never man yet laid there, laid de Jesus and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher and departed period end of Bible.
The Apostle Paul in this message will deliver the wonderful news that our God is personally involved in the affairs of mankind, that he has a hands on approach to creation and this world.
And the best part of that news is that he has a hands on approach to you and to me. He is involved in my life.
Is involved in years. The deaths have no hope of that.
Another world view is pantheism.
That is the view that God is the world and the world is God. That is, everything is divine, your divine, Bush's divine, the tree, the cow, the brook. Everything is has that spark of divinity within. And this is certainly a comfortable view held by Hinduism and Zen Buddhism, which is making a surge in American societal circles. And certainly the New Age movement, which is waning and it seems to do nothing more than provide the foundation for Zen Buddhism and other Eastern religions. But you can certainly understand the popularity of a movement that would say to you, you are a God rather than you're gonna have to stand before God one day. The vast difference in there, which one's more comfortable for you? Another world view is a theism. This is a rather lonely looking picture. After seeing the others, the world does not have a God. Loneliness of a world without a creator, without someone intimately involved in the affairs of men. Then there's another world view that's finite. God ism. The world has a somewhat limited God. He could probably take the words somewhat and simply say severely.
But you see the little hand of God and this big, massive world. Basically, the belief is that God created the world or or perhaps some superintelligence created the world. But the world just got so big and fast and busy and so many people. And he never expected that. And he just can't keep up that view.
By the way, is is it born to hurting hearts, especially when bad things happen? Harold Kushner, a rabbi, had a death in the family and he came to the view that God was all good. But how could this bad thing happen to his family, his child to die? And so he espoused the view of finite God ism that God is all good. He's just not powerful enough to keep a finite God ism. Finally, theism.
This is the world's view that the world was created by an all powerful personal God. He noticed in verse twenty four it says The God is the Lord of Heaven and Earth. That is, he is the sovereign master. Overall, that there is Daniel for thirty four and thirty five say this God's dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation, and all the inhabitants of the Earth recounted is nothing. But he does, according to his will in the host of Heaven and among the inhabitants of the Earth. And no one can ward off his hand or say to him, What have you done? In other words, this sovereign is accountable to no one. And that's one of the things about him that makes him God and you and I not God. He is not accountable to us. We are accountable to him.
And at best, when those things happen in our lives, we have to acknowledge the sovereignty of God, who does encourage just by saying nothing happens apart from my suffering as well. And he encourages us in the New Testament when he says that all things work together for good. He didn't say all things are good and I'm glad he didn't, but he said all things work together for good. And what is that good? Health, comfort, prosperity. Some would say go to the next verse, verse twenty nine of that same chapter in Romans Chapter eight, and you discover that the purpose of God is that you'd be conformed to the image of his son.
That's his purpose.
And though the writer of scripture said see how he learned obedience through the things that he suffered.
So I'm one of three, 19 says the Lord has established his throne in the heavens and his sovereignty rules overall.
What right does God have to rule over all that there is? Well, Paul answers it here. God is the right for ruler of heaven on earth because verse twenty for a God made the world and all things in it. And you know why the heart of of unregenerate man resists the idea of a creator God. Because if God created everything that there is, he has the right to rule everyone who lives. So we must resist the idea that he created everything that there is. Otherwise I might be accountable to him as creator God.
And Paul will go on to declare and this is a rather sticky point with unregenerate man, that mankind will one day be accountable to this creator God, if he creator all things and he has the right overall that lives. This is his planet, not mine. This is his human race, not mine. This is his animal kingdom, not mine. These are his resources. Not mine. This is his destiny, not mine. This is. This is his time. His span. His planning. Not mine.
That somehow, if we can resist the idea that he is creator of all, we can keep that domino from falling, then you don't have to worry about being accountable to the creator God.
And so we have to stay over here and dig our heels in. And I can understand full well why.
But Paul declares here, my God made it all.
And you might notice that nowhere in 17 does Paul ever attempt to prove the existence of God. He simply declares he is just like the beginning of your Bible in the beginning, God.
And then he doesn't list 10 proofs of God's existence, simply declares it in the beginning, God, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. Now, if Paul were in a synagogue, he'd start with the Old Testament law. Perhaps he would begin with scripture.
He'd begin from a basis of of the prophets. But he's speaking here to an Athenian crowd who doesn't appreciate the word, knows little of it. And so he takes them back to the place where God began. He goes and he basically read declares Genesis one one God existed and God created all that there is.
And it's up to us as to whether or not, by his grace, we will believe it and safe. And as a forty five eighteen, the prophet describes God as the God who formed the Earth and made it. Jeremi picked up the same theme as he writes. It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world, by his wisdom and by his understanding. He is stretched out the heavens.
He'd go to the New Testament and discover the same truth Ephesians that God created or all God created, all things Colossians one of the passages that we read as we as we worked our way musically through this Afrobeat of God, his creative ability. And Colossians, we discover that Jesus Christ is that person of the Godhead, specifically directing the creation of all that there is. And so in Colossians, we read as it points to Jesus Christ, that by him all things were created. That is by the second person of the got hit by him. All things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether throne's or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things have been created by him. And for him, creation is where Paul begins.
It's a great place to begin with, maybe your friends, because if a person can believe in a creator God, he is prepared to believe in the second creation. He can believe in the first creation of Genesis, wanting believe in the second creation, then man be in Christ. He is a new what creation. Those who place their faith in him becoming a new creation then are allowed to be part of the third creation when God, according to Revelation White's all this away and he recreates a new heaven. And a new earth. Go back to verse 24 again. Paul states, the God who made the world and all the things that Paul's original word translated world. Here's the Greek word cosmos. You're familiar with that word. It's a very clever choice of words simply because of a revered Athenian who lived centuries before Paul named Homer, used the word cosmos. In fact, another one that would come along, a brilliant philosopher by the name of Plato, would use this same word. Homer used it in the sense of the order of Grecian democracy. It still was unrelated to the universe. Plato then chose that word Cosmos and used it to relate the order of a woman's cosmetics. He talked of how she put this layer on and then this layer and then this layer and then this layer and then probably got into a lot of trouble with Mrs. Plato for for doing that. But at any rate, that's how he used the word. Then the word developed and eventually began to be relegated only to the idea of order in the universe, the cosmos, an ordered universe.
And so that's what he is talking about here, is he uses that word in an interesting way, as you referred to, all that God created having order. And fashion and form, in fact, one of the arguments for creation uses that great court, the cosmos or the cosmological argument. If you're taking notes. That's one of the two that I've put there since we see the effects of order. This cosmological argument says, since we see the effects of order, there had to have been a cause of order. Another argument is that Telia logical argument, that is there is complex design and creation and complex design demands a divine what designer? Let me give you a couple of examples. And as I give you examples, even as I have referenced to cosmological untell theological arguments, I want you to know they do not produce faith. Any evidence that you can give us, somebody will not produce faith.
For those of us who have faith, let me give you a couple of illustrations, and I want to let you know before I do, especially because of this first one, which is out of the world of science that I am way over my head. I'm going to admit that right now I. I took science just so I could graduate from high school and college. And that was about all that I that I got. I made the mistake one time a few years ago, giving an illustration from memory where I talked about the number of chromosomes in the human body and I messed up the number and I ended up giving us a lot more than we're supposed to have. And somebody came up to the service who knew the number and promptly told me so. At any rate, I'm treading on thin ice here. I kind of feel like the five year old boy that that was really excited when he came home from church because his Sunday school teacher had told his class about Adam and Eve and the creation of Adam and Eve and how God took one of Adam's ribs and created Eve out of it. And he was so excited about that little five year old boy who's run around the house a few days later and he came to his mommy's little Molly, my sidewards. I think I'm having a wife.
Well, that's my speed. OK.
The first illustration of a creative, wonderful design that demands a designer comes from the writings of an unbeliever. This book was published last year and it has created a firestorm. Darwin's black box. Written by a biochemist.
If you particularly enjoy this kind of reading, you will be fascinated by what he has discovered in the laboratory and how it demands somebody have some answers as it relates to Darwinian evolution, because it doesn't make sense. Let me read some some editor's thoughts by gentlemen at our church who's actually working through this book and giving me some of the digested truths in the eighteen hundreds. Darwin's time. The cell was just an unopened black box. That's the idea behind the title. Darwin assumed that the inside of a cell was simple. Ernst Heikal, a Darwin disciple, believed that a cell was, quote, a simple little lump of carbon. Now, this is before the invention of the kinds of technology that allow us to see inside the cell at all the complexity that Darwin didn't have the ability. But here's what Darwin went on to say. If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. Well, with the advent of the electron microscope, it has allowed the investigation of the complexities at the cellular level. Fascinating. Now, for the average person who's been taught Darwinian evolution since grade school, more than likely they have not been told of Darwin's own personal anxiety and doubt his own level of of discouragement over even what he had discovered. And I came across a quote. Here it is. Here's a letter that Darwin wrote. Here's a little brief line or two from it. These were published later after his death. Where Darwin writes these words, I grieve to say that I cannot honestly go as far as you do about design. Evidently, he's writing a creationist. A friend. I am conscious that I am in an utterly hopeless muddle. I cannot think that the world as we see it is the result of chance. And yet I cannot look at each separate thing as the result of design. Again, I say I am and shall ever remain in a hopeless muddle. Well, the apostle Paul, centuries before Darwin, surrounded by Pantheist, whose writings would cut across the grain of the deaths, the pantheist, the atheists. He clears the way the muddle as he writes the next 17 and just one brief phrase in verse twenty four. God who made the world and all things in it. That is every separate thing. It was created by divine designer. One more illustration, this time from a medical doctor. A man by the name of Paul Brand, who wrote a fascinating book. Listen to what he says. OK. Hang with me. Just a few more minutes and I'll let you out of class. Locked away inside each cell nucleus as a chemically coiled strand of DNA.
Once the egg and sperm share their inheritance, the DNA chemical ladder splits down the center of every gene, much as the teeth of a zipper pull apart. DNA reforms itself. Each time the cell divides two four eight 16 32 cells, each with the identical DNA. Along the way, cells specialize, but each carries the entire instruction book of one hundred thousand genes. DNA is estimated to contain instructions that, if written out, would fill a thousand books each six hundred pages long. A nerve cell may operate, according to instructions from volume for a kidney cell may operate from instructions found in volume twenty five. But both cells carry the entire set of books. The DNA is so narrow and compacted that all the genes in my body cells would fit into an ice cube. Yet if the DNA were unwound and joined together end to end, the Strand could stretch from the earth to the sun and back more than four hundred times.
Fearfully and wonderfully made, the apostle Paul declared to this group of people gathered on Mars Hill. You've search for the truth of origins, the truth of the supernatural. He says, I'm here to give you the Rosetta Stone, the one that translates your questions into meaning. His name is Jesus Christ. And this wonderful, courageous grand ambassador of Christ there at the area.
Optics says to this crowd and to all of us. My God is more than a monument. And my God made it all.
The people living around you and the people working with you have the same needs and the same desires as the citizens of ancient Athens. They need to be introduced to their creator. And I hope today's time, in God's word, has challenged you to be an ambassador for Christ. Thanks for joining us today. You've been listening to Wisdom for the Hearts. Our Bible teacher is Steven Davy. Steven is also the president of Shepperd's Theological Seminary. You can learn more about our ministry at our Web site, which is Wisdom Online, Dawg. That site has been recently redesigned. So if you haven't been there in a while. Be sure and visit. You can still access all of our resources as well as interact with us through that site. We'd love to know what you think after your visit. So send us a note. One resource I want to point out that you'll find on that site is a clear and concise gospel presentation. It'll help you share the truth of God's word with others.
The presentation is called God's Wisdom for Your Hearts. It's available on our Web site and also on our app. If you'd like printed copies to share with people, we have those available as well. And you'll find those in our online store. Thanks for joining us today. Come back tomorrow at this same time for our next lesson here on Wisdom for the Hearts.