Sunday, November 09, 2014

A God By Any Other Name

Once upon a time, Paul was used by God to perform a miracle, the healing of a man lame from birth.
11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” 
12And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 
13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 
14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out 
15and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 
16“In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 
17and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 
18Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. Acts 14:11-18

It mattered to Paul and Barnabas that their works were being attributed to pagan gods.
Here the inhabitants of Lystra had to be restrained from offering sacrifices to their gods in honor of Paul and Barnabas.

A few chapters further along in Acts Paul is in Athens:
"22So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 
23“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."
Acts 17:22-23

Paul did not say, "Men of Athens, Zeus, whom you worship is just another name for the true God that I worship. A name is just a name, am I right?"
No-he found an inscription "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD" and used it as an opener to preach the Gospel.

Bottom line: God is Who He Is, and He has the first and last word:
"2“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3“You shall have no other gods before Me.
4“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 
5“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 
6but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
Exodus 20:2-6

1 comment:

Doug said...

I was just mentioning Hamlet elsewhere online, which my have brought about the name of this post.

Bottom bottom line: We who belong to God know Him. Those who are seeking God, if He wills it to happen, will find Him.
Everyone else-nope. You are in the same mess as those pagans of old.
But the good news is that God is still working miracles, still drawing peoples to Himself and into His Kingdom.
May God Bless you today.