ILLUSTRATION: According to a recent article on the site, there is estimated to be between 4,000 and 10,000 different religions in the world today.
In our little town of Whitehall there are no less than 11 different denominations of religious buildings.
When I talk with people often I will at some points hear them tell me one of two things:
“I’m a religious person”
“I’m not a very religious person”
According to the dictionary, the definition of religion is: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”
It’s a belief system revolving around something like a cause, or nature, or the purpose of the universe, or even a “superhuman agency”, that usually involves some type of works your supposed to do, and normally gives moral guidance on how to live.
While I don’t like the definition, I believe it fits perfectly with our worlds view of religion today.
For some, the preservation of earth has become their religion
For some, political ideologies has become their religion
In many religions, there is some deity that leads their religion.
In 2021 a poll found that the fastest growing religion in America is “No religion”
But who determines there is no deity to submit to? They do.
So if they are the final authority, they have just joined the most popular and fastest growing religion… the religion of self!
Everywhere you look, a diversity of religion exists.
EXPLANATION: And in Acts 17, Paul found himself in a similar situation.
Paul was in Athens awaiting the arrival of Silas and Timothy, when he began to look around the city.
And what Paul saw was a city, by his words, that was “Wholly given to idolatry.”
Everyone was religious!
Paul gave them a different definition in v.22 when he began preaching his message, Acts 17:22
Acts 17:22 KJV 1900
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
As one tv personality said it, they weren’t just a little “stitious” they were “superstitious”
As Paul made his way through the city, he found altars to every deity the people could come up with.
The god of rain
The god of the sun
The god of the moon/stars/sea/wind/fire
There was an altar for everything.
But as he passed by, Paul came to one a little different than the other: Acts 17:23
Acts 17:23 KJV 1900
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
Amongst all their other altars, they wanted to be sure they didn’t miss any, so they made an altar to the “Unknown God”.
It was to be the catch all for any gods they may have forgotten about.
But on this day, Paul was about to turn their world upside down.
Because Paul knew their wasn’t many gods to be worshiped… there was just one.
And He wasn’t an unknown God… He had a name!
APPLICATION: And friend today, I want us to see what Paul shared with those in Athens all those years ago.
It’s a reality that is just as true today as it was nearly 2000 years ago.
You see, there aren’t 4000-10,000 religions
Some say you can break them down into 5 different religious groups.
But we can see from Scripture, it is even mope simple than that… there are only 2.
There is what the Bible says… and then there are all the rest!
There is a world full of religions that tell you all the things you must “do” to have eternal life.
But there is only one that says it is already done!
We aren’t talking about denomination this morning.
I’m not asking if you would even call yourself a Christian.
Today, would you decide with me to be a biblicist?
And will you look into this incredible message recorded for us from the Apostle Paul?
Today, I want to help some of you to stop being religious… or as Paul might have said, “Stop being superstitious.”
And from this short message from Paul, I want to introduce you to the “unknown God” and what makes Him different from all other religions.


Acts 17:24–26 KJV 1900
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
EXPLANATION: Paul begins with the trump card for just Who the “Unknown God” is.
v.24, He created everything!
Genesis 1:1 KJV 1900
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
God created the world out of nothing.
With only His spoken word all things came into existence.
APPLICATION: We live in a world that has called this into question.
Never has there been a time in history in which the very power of God’s creative ability has come more into question.
Some that would say they don’t have enough “faith” to believe what This Book says.
But here’s where it gets interesting… ask them how they believe everything came into existence.
“With 100 billion years ago… There was a huge bang”… but where did the particles come from?
Ultimately, where did they learn this… From a professor somewhere...
And where did that professor learn it… FROM A BOOK written by some man!
Friend, what book are you going to believe?
EXPLANATION: For Paul the answer was clear… “I believe This Book… and I believe the God of this Book!”
v.25, He needs nothing from anyone!
Numbers 23:19 KJV 1900
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; Neither the son of man, that he should repent: Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
As these Athenians would bring their sacrifices and altars to lay at their stone altars to make their gods happy, Paul says this “Unknown God” doesn’t need any of your stuff!
If He created everything our of nothing, why would He need your things?
No, God is so much bigger than that!
v.26, He is in control of every thing!
He is Creator of every person and culture who has ever existed regardless of if they submit to Him or not!
Paul was saying, this isn’t just a religion for the Jews… it’s for all people!
God is no discriminator for who His Gospel is to go to!
He has determined when and where He would allow things to happen.
God is not the great cause of all things… He gives man a free will.
But there is nothing that is out of God’s control.
And God has a way of working all things together for our good and for His glory.
ILLUSTRATION: I’m sure most men in this room have been in a situation where you’ve been assembling something.
You’ve already thrown out the instructions because what are those for… and now something isn’t fitting right.
You look on the box and it has this message, “If you have problems, don’t return to the store, please contact the manufacturer.”
Why would they say something like that?
Because the one with the final say and the one that truly understands everything, is the one who created it.
APPLICATION: There is no stronger evidence of just Who this “Known God” is than the fact that He created all things, is in control of all things, and needs nothing!
He is powerful!
He is the final authority.
And before Paul could step into the next thing, he had to first point to the supremacy of the power of the Unknown God.


Acts 17:27–29 KJV 1900
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
EXPLANATION: Paul then moves to the next natural step… this Unknown God is supreme… so what does that mean for me?
Well there is something that this All Powerful God desires, and it isn’t some possession laid down on a physical altar.
No, Paul answer the first half of the question in those first words of v.27, “That they should seek the Lord.”
God desires that His most precious creation, man and woman, seek after him.
The Bible says it’s written on the conscious of man that their is a Creator: Romans 2:14-15
Romans 2:14–15 KJV 1900
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Romans 1:18–20 KJV 1900
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
APPLICATION: God wants man to seek after Him so much that He programmed each person to have a desire deep within themselves to seek for something bigger than themselves!
Everyone is born to believe in God… it is man who seeks to rewire our thinking to believe their isn’t one.
But Romans 12:2
Romans 12:2 KJV 1900
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Friend if your mind has been rewired by this world, God can remake your mind anew that you can clearly understand the truth that this Bible tells us: There is an all powerful God!
And He desires you to seek Him and know him!
EXPLANATION: And then Paul brings out the second thing God desires from His creation, v.29.
Not only to seek Him… but to worship Him.
But not with gold and silver and stone, like those statues those at Athens had created.
No, God didn’t want a statue
God wan’t looking for something that man could create or build
He didn’t want what man could come up with.
You see that’s what religion comes up with and God wasn’t interested in empty religion.
God wanted worship through a relationship.
Colossians 1:16 KJV 1900
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
APPLICATION: You see here is the core difference between all religions and what the Bible says.
Religion is all about what we can do for God.
The gold, silver, and stone we can construct for God.
ILLUSTRATION: Religion has taught people to believe that one day we will stand before God for show and tell.
You remember show and tell as a child…
APPLICATION: Religion says that one day you will stand before God and show and tell Him all you did to gain His favor and gain entrance into heaven.
But that doesn’t mesh with the Bible.
Romans 4:4 KJV 1900
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
“God look at what I did”
My good works
My money I gave
My church attendance
My baptism
My religion!
“God, look at what I did… so now you owe me to go to heaven.”
But God doesn’t owe you or me anything.
Religion is about what I can do for God.
But God wants you to understand not religion… but a relationship!
Religion is look at what I did for God… relationship is all about look what God has done for you!
Romans 3:10 KJV 1900
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:23 KJV 1900
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 KJV 1900
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:8 KJV 1900
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV 1900
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Romans 4:4–5 KJV 1900
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
It is God Who wants to take the stage on the show and tell platform and show you His Son Jesus Christ Who died on the cross for you!
On Friday we remembered that great sacrifice that Jesus gave as His body was broken and His precious blood was shed!
And my sins and your sins were placed upon Him because the wages of sin is death… and someone had to die!
But Jesus wasn’t just someone!
That what Paul comes to in the final point of his message:


Acts 17:30–31 KJV 1900
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
EXPLANATION: God had ordained His Son to die on that cross for you and for me!
John 3:16 KJV 1900
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
He gave His life as a gift to you and me… but Jesus’ death was different from any other person who had ever died!
Because 3 days later, He rose again and He is alive today.
Oh there were others in the Bible who were raised from the dead… but they all eventually died again.
Only Jesus rose again and is alive today!
And that is what this day is all about!
When the ladies made their way to that garden tomb and found that stone rolled away and an angel sitting on the stone.
Matthew 28:5–6 KJV 1900
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul walks through the ramifications of what it would mean if Christ wasn’t risen
Our gathering today would be pointless
Our preaching would be in vain
Our faith is false
All those who have died will just stay in the ground
This miserable life is our only hope
But then he comes to 1 Corinthians 15:20
1 Corinthians 15:20 KJV 1900
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
And Paul says, now that you have heard this truth about the One you have deemed as the “Known God” you are no longer ignorant.
APPLICATION: And Paul says to those there in Athens and to us here today, “Now commandeth all men every where to repent!”
Romans 10:9–10 KJV 1900
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
You are without excuse once you’ve heard the truth!
You must respond!
And that’s exactly what happened when Paul finished his message:


Acts 17:32–34 KJV 1900
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
EXPLANATION: Some mocked, some said maybe next time… but some believed!


Friend, what will you do with todays message?
“That’s crazy… you guys are a bunch of fanatics!”
“You’ve given me a lot to think about… maybe next time.”
My prayer is there will be some that will believe!
Stop being so religious… don’t be so superstitious!
Come and discover a religious with the “Unknown God” that sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins.
And repent and receive Him as your Savior today!
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