“It is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness. And it is as we enter more and more deeply into this experience of being and exalted that our knowledge of God increases, and with it our peace, our strength and our joy. God help us, then, to put our knowledge about God to this use, that we all may in truth know the Lord.” J. I. Packer
We have thus far seen that one of the initial aspects of knowing God is recognizing and understanding that He is the creator of the heavens and the earth. Revelation 4:11 says, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing. What kind of God could do such a thing? Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “It would take a being of unsurpassed worth, a being who is perfectly powerful—indeed, all-powerful—to bring something into existence that preciously had no existence. God did not simply rearrange preexisting matter to make the universe; He called matter itself into existence. Consequently, God possesses great glory as the Creator of all things, and because He in His glory created all things, He is worthy to receive glory from us. We are His creatures; He is our creator. Therefore, our highest honor and praise should go to Him alone. We can revere nothing greater than we revere God, for there is nothing greater than our Creator.”
The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. The narrative is as follows.
“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him.
And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.”
Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”
So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”
Mediate upon this text of Scripture until we meet again. It is then that we will begin to examine Acts 17:16-34 in greater detail.
Soli deo Gloria!