“The Unknown God”

By Ronnie Lowe

No one can deny that the world exists, but where did it come from? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The next question to be asked might be, “Which God?” Did one God create the world, or was the world created by a host of divine beings?

In Acts 17 we find a wonderful discussion concerning the God who created the universe. Paul was speaking to a group of pagan philosophers in Athens, one of the most idolatrous cities in the history of the world. It was a city “given over to idols” (Acts 17:16). One ancient Roman said that it was easier to find a god in Athens than it was to find a man. As a person walked down the streets of this historic city, it would be difficult indeed not to notice all the various idols erected in the honor of various gods. In Athens there was a god for everything. The citizens there, however, realized that there was a possibility that they might have forgotten some god, so they even erected an altar in honor of the one they might have forgotten.

As Paul walked through the city he saw the altar erected in memory of the “Unknown God.” It was this forgotten God that Paul wanted to discuss with them.

“Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, “For we are also His offspring.” Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.’ And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’ So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17:22-34).

The true and living God does not just dwell upon a pedestal, nor does He merely dwell in a temple made by man. God made all things and lives everywhere. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:7-10).

Have you ever wondered why God created the world and man as He did? He did so “that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him, and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28). We are here to serve the one true God, and God is displeased with anything less. God is made angry when we worship other gods, because they did nothing for us and can do nothing for us. Isaiah states that idols are helpless, for they are made by man instead of making man. They must be carried by man instead of carrying man through life (Isaiah 44:12-17; 46:3-7). Even the Athenians admitted that man is the offspring of God (Acts 17:28). This being true, then what does that make us if we worship a god made out of gold, stone, or wood? By downgrading God we thus downgrade ourselves.

We must elevate God to His proper place in our lives. He is the Supreme Being. There is no other God, and there is no excuse for failing to believe in God. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). But if I really believe in God, then I must respond in some way. How can a person really believe that God exists and that He created all things, and yet refuse to try to please Him? Who is worthy of our love and devotion more than God? “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). I must therefore so live as to be well-pleasing unto God if I am to be able to stand victoriously before Him in eternity.

God not only created man but continues to sustain man. And He sustains us not only physically but spiritually as well. God recognizes that man's spiritual side is more important than his physical side because the spiritual man shall live forever. Because of this love for man, God has provided for the eternal salvation of his soul. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Our loving God has provided salvation, but we must do something to obtain that salvation. We can provide water for an animal to drink, but in order for the animal to get any good from that water, it must drink the water. In order for me to obtain salvation, I too must do something. I must believe in and love the one God with all my heart, and I must believe that He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be my Savior. I must be willing to confess that faith and tell others about Him. Also, I must be willing to repent, or change my former way of life. I must be born again (John 3:3-5), which means I must be baptized (immersed in water) for the remission of all my sins. Thus I can become a child of the one God and have the hope of living with Him for all eternity.

Why spend your life serving a lifeless idol who has done nothing for you, neither can do anything for you? Why not live for and serve the one true and living God? Why not live as He would have you to live that you might spend eternity with Him?