The God Who Can Be Known
May 7, 2006
INTRODUCTION: As Paul moves into Greece, namely the city of Athens, he is overwhelmed with the city's need to know God. Athens was the philosophical center of the ancient world and was home of the world's most famous university. Athens was also a religious center where almost every god in existence was worshipped. One writer said of Athens, "It is easier to find a god in Athens than a man."
Several centuries before Christ, Athens had been the greatest city in the world. Socrates, his brilliant student, Plato, and Plato's student, Aristotle, perhaps the greatest and most influential philosopher of all times, taught there.
Two dominant philosophies were found in Athens: Epicureanism and Stoicism.
Epicurean was the teaching that pleasure and the avoidance of pain are the chief end of man. They were materialists, who, while not denying the existence of the gods, believed they did not intervene in the affairs of man. They taught that, at death, the body and soul (both composed of atoms) disintegrate; there is no afterlife. They were existentialists in that they sought truth by means of personal experience and not through reasoning. The true Epicureans avoided extremes and sought to enjoy life by keeping things in balance, but pleasure was still their number one goal.
Stoics saw self-mastery as the greatest virtue. They believed self-mastery comes from being indifferent to both pleasure and pain, reaching the place where one feels nothing.
They were pantheists. We are one in essence with God. We have not existence apart from Him. We are part of the divine essence. Christ is one with us and is in us by virtue of creation rather than redemption.
The most important thing in life was to follow one's reasons and be self-sufficient, unmoved by inner feelings or emotional circumstances.
The Epicureans said, "Enjoy life!" The Stoics said, "Endure life!" but Paul desired to exp ...
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