Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | September 12, 2015

September 12, 2015 “The ‘Unknown All-Knowing’ God”

“For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you…Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.” (Acts 17:23, 34)

Good Morning My Dear Friends in Christ!

As a pastor, one valuable lesson I have learned over the years is not to make assumptions regarding the preaching of the Gospel. There are times that I have felt particularly anointed in the pulpit…that God was indeed using me as his mouthpiece to proclaim some great truth to those gathered for worship. At other times, it’s been somewhat of a struggle for me just to get through a particular service because of the apparent lack of response by the congregation. The thing is, God’s word never returns void, and it’s really not up to me to decide ahead of time who is listening and who is not. It’s not my call when it comes to determining the efficacy of some particular message. My call is to proclaim the Gospel and let the Lord do the work of transforming hearts. I feel fairly confident that the apostle Paul thought and felt as did I that day in Athens when he stood among the philosophers of his day, more interested in theological debate than in truly considering the radical power of the gospel Paul was sharing with them, They were a group more interested in debate than in discernment. But Paul preached on anyway, appealing not only to their intellect, but also to that which they worshipped in ignorance…an “Unknown God”, who had a place in their pantheon of idols. Paul persuaded them to consider the possibility that this very “unknown God” was, in fact, the God who had fashioned them and all things of this world. They listened with varying degrees of interest, particularly when Paul audaciously suggested that this “unknown God” was the incarnate Son of the Almighty who had been crucified and risen from the dead. Many scoffed at that notion…but a few believed. Two, a man and a woman, were identified for us, their names recorded for all time in the Book we know as the Holy Bible…Dionysius and Damaris. Scripture only tells us their names, but the very fact that Luke singles them out in this passage indicates that they were most likely influential in the spreading of the Gospel throughout the Gentile world some time after Paul’s departure from Athens. I wonder how many came to be believers through their testimony? Perhaps in heaven, we shall meet many who came to know Christ as Lord and Savior just as they did through their sharing of the Gospel.

God revealed through the prophet Jeremiah that he knows all about us even before we were as conceived in our mother’s womb.  Before they were formed in the womb, the Lord knew of Dionysius and Damaris. Before they were born they were set apart by God to be numbered among those whose names are recorded in His Book as followers of Jesus Christ. Before they were born, God had ordained that a man named Paul would share the Gospel with the curious, the scoffers, and the open-minded and from that proclamation, Dionysius and Damaris, and countless others whose names are unknown to us, but are known to God, would come to salvation.  As I share the Gospel in word and in deed, I strive to remember that it is my task to proclaim and God’s grace that brings forth the harvest. I make no assumptions as to how my sharing will be received…only that I am called by God to do it tirelessly, prayerfully, and faithfully, without assumption or personal pride. The day will come when “every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God.” Join with me in praying for that promised day comes quickly! Let’s pray!

Mighty and Merciful God: How I praise you for your excellence and your grace. How I praise you for your mercy and your love. I rejoice in the privilege of proclaiming the Good News throughout the world. Make me an instrument of your peace, that others may hear and come to believe that Jesus is Lord of all. This I pray in his blessed Name. Amen!





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