The Unknown God

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To The Unknown God

Acts 17:22-34

Paul begins to explain to the Athenians who God is, who Jesus is, what is expected from men and their response to God’s plan of salvation, and judgment to come. They had false ideas of God and of salvation. Paul begins to relate to them the full gospel of Jesus, not a quip phrase to lure them into serving dumbed down definition of God. Paul wanted them to know the fullness of truth, so that they would not mingle their ideas/philosophy with Christianity. They did anyway. As we see, immediately, false teachers entered the church preaching another Jesus and another gospel

2 Corinthians 11:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!

Better, the adverb being emphatic, and intensely ironical, “you put up with it!” Paul means, of course, that they have done much more than tolerate the preachers of the false gospel, but have paid them an extravagant respect.

The gospel is not John 3:16 This is a portion of the gospel, as is Acts 2:38 or John 3:5. The gospel is not, “Good news! You do not have to live under Jewish law because the OT was really really bad!”

These Scriptures are all key ingredients, but they are incomplete. Say I was to give you two ingredients in a recipe:

2 eggs

1 stick of butter

What am I making? You have no idea.

The gospel is not just “Good news, God loves you, believe in Jesus”. It is much more than that. The gospel includes all of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles recorded in Scripture. If you don’t share the full truth, the full gospel then you are skipping steps and only giving others a part of what they need-

If you do that then you are considered to be a thief and a robber keeping part of what they need back from them. It’d be like attempting to give someone a gift but you only give half of it- what if I said I was going to give you a car? You would be super excited until the car I gave you had no tires and no engine. But hey, the brakes work great! What good is it? It is incomplete. So they have part of what they need but not the whole thing. Don’t give partial truths and don’t give just part of the gospel. Give the full gospel and the full truth.

Why do I tell you this? Because you must become acquainted with the genuine so that you can immediately recognize a fake

There are a bunch of “gospels” mentioned in the Bible:

Doctrine of the Nicolaitans (Rev 2:15)

the doctrine of Jezebel (Rev 2:20)

doctrine of demons (1 Tim 4:1)

doctrine of Balaam (2:14)

These are perverted gospels- which all stemmed from Christians who mingled with worldly ideas and concepts and entered the church in the first and second century. The perversion of Christianity started immediately.

Galatians 1:6-7 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert[a]the gospel of Christ.

Many these above so called “gospels” have their origin in Gnosticism- *Note* they did not see themselves as “anti Christian”, they saw themselves as inspired, charismatic teachers with a “new revelation”. They taught a progressive doctrine of accommodation to the surrounding culture mixing in Greek, Roman and other pagan belief ideas about God and His plan of salvation

Gnosticism “developed in the same places as dawning Christianity and the Judaic religions. Gnostic teachers claimed to have secret knowledge about the creation of the world and the purpose of life and competed with the Apostles on the same ground.  Gnostic groups seized on bits of Christianity, but tended to cut it off from its historical source  (challenging or redefining Scripture)

Gnostic teaching was a particular threat to Christianity because Gnosticism created “the illusion it was a Christian doctrine” by referring to the Hebrew Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus, while twisting and perverting the original meaning, all the while claiming to be a Christian.

One of the earliest Gnostic teachers was Simon Magus. He is thought to be the Simon (mentioned in Acts 8) who used sorcery to deceive people in Samaria. Simon was attracted by the miracles performed by Philip. Although Simon claimed to be a Christian after displaying a superficial conversion, Peter and John rejected him for being “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (Acts 8:23).  Although Simon continued to follow the Apostles around (Acts 8:13), he and his disciples (Marcion, Valentinus and Basilides) promoted a message that was “subversive” and “radically different from the Apostolic teaching”

Gnosticism is anti-Scripture, anti-God, anti-Law and anti-Christ—yet its proponents often claim to be the true Christians! Marcion, a highly intelligent man—and originally a member of a Christian community—wrote and traveled widely in the 2nd century promoting deceptive Gnostic ideas. His major work entitled Antithesis contains many ideas that subvert and reverse the meaning of Scripture. Marcion even produced a canon—a list of books that he felt should constitute the real Bible! Marcion, however, eliminated the whole Old Testament because he felt it was a record of Jehovah’s “crimes against humanity” (Godwin, p. 85). He rejected three gospels (Matthew, Mark and John) because he felt they had been corrupted by Jewish influences and leaned too heavily on the Old Testament. He discarded six of Paul’s epistles for the same reasons. (read only Jesus’ words, sound familiar) 

Some of the most controversial teachings of the Gnostics had to do with the lifestyle they advocated. Marriage and procreational sex were scorned as the distractions of a wicked god. This led to drastic extremes! Certain teachers, such as Marcion and Valentinus, advocated self-denial. They forbade marriage and taught that Gnostics should remain celibate.

Some Gnostics taught that Adam was created without gender, the ideal state one should aspire to is androgyny—where sexual identity is suppressed or eliminated.

Other Gnostic teachers advocated just the opposite! Simon Magus appears to have rejected marriage and promoted free love! Gnostics saw laws given by an evil creator-god as restrictive and inhibiting. They taught the “practice of free love”

Gnostic texts “are employed to justify women’s headship, the goddess character of the Holy Spirit, the moral appropriateness of abortion, the feminist re-interpretation of culture, and much more”.

What is the gospel? How do we recognize it?

The gospel was fore ordained.

I heard a pastor say recently that you should “unhitch” from the OT Scripture. Gnosticism. Jesus is God in the flesh, the same God in the OT. He closed the door to the Ark and HE walked on water. He is not a “new god”

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [a]comprehend it.

Romans 1:6 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to bean apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who [a]was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

God had this plan of salvation from the beginning. It is not a new plan, it is an ancient plan that God prepared for a certain people in a certain time.

THIS is foundational! You must understand the TRUE nature and character of God, otherwise you are worshiping a golden calf- did you know

The gospel includes faith in the literal death, resurrection and return of Christ to judge

The cross is fundamental to our gospel. Jesus died. Was buried. Rose from the dead. Is alive forever more seated at the right hand of the Father and He is returning. I heard a famous pastor say recently, “Jesus is not your judge”

Acts 17:31 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.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

Grace was extended to all mankind on the cross, but we appropriate that grace through faith in what Jesus did for us. We cannot earn this, there is no good works we can do to be saved. We must place our complete trust and faith in Jesus. One day, He will return and we will all be judged. We will either here, “depart from Me, you who work in lawlessness.” OR we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”

Revelation 19:11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.

Romans 2:16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

There is a day of judgment. ANY gospel that does not include judgment, is not the gospel of Jesus Christ

The gospel includes repentance and remission of sins.

Repentance (a changed heart and mind which leads into a changed life. Remember Jesus said, “You must be born again”) reveals if we have faith in God’s gift of grace. A one time confession with no change in your life is a false gosepl. A Jesus that forgives without repentance is a false Jesus

Acts 17:30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

Luke 24:46-47 New King James Version (NKJV)

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, [a]and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

There are three scenarios in a believer’s life in relation to sin:

1. those who choose to completely overlook sin because they have a seared conscience

Jeremiah 8:12 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed,
Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; In the time of their punishment
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord.

2. those who buy into the lie that we will always remain a sinner- somehow the blood of Jesus is powerful enough to set us free from the penalty of sin but not the bondage of sin. These do not believe it is necessary to “go your way and sin no more” Paul addressed this mindset of the Romans: Romans 6:1-2

3. those who struggle to break free from sin, your heart breaks when you fall into sin but you are kept in the bondage of guilt and condemnation. Believe God’s Word of forgiveness and walk in it

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The gospel is one of holiness (godliness)

Any teacher that tells you that you can continue to live a life of sin and still remain in salvation is a liar. This is a false gospel of accommodation-lawlessness (antinomianism) The gospel is according to godliness.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,” Titus 2:11-12 NKJV

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” I Timothy 6:3-5 NKJV

Godliness is not gain- so called prosperity gospel, doctrine of Jezebel, covetousness

The gospel includes obedience to the Lord and His Word until the end

Grace is not in opposition to the law. Grace and law are in apposition- meaning they work together in conjunction. Grace makes it possible to obey God in the things He wants us to obey and the manner we are to obey them. A confession of faith that produces no obedience, is dead. Obedience is not legalism- unless you are obeying only to earn favor and salvation. Obedience comes from a heart that has been broken over sin and loves the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with [c]tribulation those who trouble  you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,

Baptism is a part of obedience. People will ask, “do I have to be baptized to be saved?” And I answer, “are you even saved if you refuse to be baptized?” It is part of His will and therefore a part of His gospel

1 Peter 3:21 New King James Version (NKJV)

21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Revelation 3:8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, [a]and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

According to Biblical faith, good deeds are evidence of true repentance. The good deeds that Jesus praises are: Keeping His Word and not denying His name

Every letter to the church ends with this phrase, “to him who overcomes” not to the one who draws back or walks away; but continues until the end

The gospel is the power of the Holy Spirit

Power to escape hell, power to overcome the devil, power to overcome the world, power to overcome sin. Any gospel that does not include the power of the Holy Spirit coming into people’s lives in order to overcome, is not the gospel of Jesus

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel [a]of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

The gospel is to be lived out in community

Do you realize that individual Christianity has its roots in gnosticism? Private/spiritual=good and public/physical= bad.

My mom said when I was a kid, “The closer you are to religion, the further you are from God”. She claimed the Bible said this. Christianity is a religion and religious rites are not bad if your heart is to please God. Hopefully you shower religiously. It becomes religious is you got to church, just because that is what you are supposed to do. But you can religiously attend church, not forsaking the gathering of the brethern because you love the house of God. You love His Bride and everything outside, fails in comparison. Tithing can become religious if you only give because thats what you are supposed to do, but you can relgiously tithe because you love and honor the LORD with all your substance.

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