The Glory of God 7

Acts 17:22 So 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.

Apart from knowing the true God all worship is in ignorance and of an unknown god. Throughout the land of America today (and much of the world too), the world and those in the professing churches are like the Gentiles that Paul spoke about: “Not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:5). Men and women who live in lustful passion do not know God. There is little difference between those who attend and are members of professing churches and those who don’t. Becoming religious and joining a church does not mean that a person knows God, but rather it can harden people into thinking that they are converted and help blind them to the fact that they must know God.

The truth of the matter is that it is so hard for people to realize what it means to know God and the devastating reality of not knowing God. “However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods” (Galatians 4:8). Not only is it the case that people who live in lustful passion don’t know God, but those who don’t know God are slaves to their passions, the devil, and other people as well who know how to manipulate those passions. But again, people can be slaves to their passions, the devil, and other people and still be very, very religious or become very religious. A preacher with a lot of energy can excite the feelings of people while they remain ignorant of God. Music with energy can also delude people into thinking that they are excited about God when in fact the music moves them and gets their feelings going. Doing good works can make people feel good and they interpret that as being loved by God, yet the fact of the matter is that they are still driven by the feelings of self rather than by knowing God.

It is not religion and all the trappings of religion that deliver people from slavery and will give them grace that they may know God, but it is God alone who can deliver people from those things. We never read that people will be shown wrath by God for not being religious, yet we do see Him “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:8). It is true that a true church is a great mercy of God to His people and it is the body of Christ, but that should never be confused with attending a place with “church” on the door and basic religious activity. In America it certainly appears that the knowledge of God is virtually gone and yet religious activity is still quite high. Oh how this should make believers go to their knees (though perhaps not literally) and fall on their faces and in utter helplessness cry out that God would have mercy on the professing churches in our day. We must have God or we will perish!

1 Corinthians 15:34 tells us to “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” It is a shame to our nation that so few have knowledge of the true God and it is a shame to the professing Church that so few have knowledge of the true God. Not only is it a shame, however, but unless we know God (again, not just know about Him) we will have the wrath and indignation of God poured out upon us. The Gospel of grace alone must be preached so that men and women will come to know God. The Gospel of grace alone must be preached so that those who know God will know Him more and more and grow in their knowing Him. After all, eternal life is to know God (John 17:3).

It appears that the professing churches of our day have simply lost what it means to know God and have resorted to religious activity and gimmicks in order to get people in the door. Others, while holding to the idea that being old-fashioned is better, are strict in their morality and hold to the old ways in their practices. Neither way, nor anything in between, can replace knowing God. Singing Psalms is no better than singing hymns if people don’t know God. Singing hymns is not better than modern praise songs if people don’t know God. Preaching hard morality is not much better (if at all) than easy preaching if people don’t know God. Preaching doctrine is little better than not preaching doctrine if people don’t know God. Where is God in our day? He is not known and it appears that few want to know Him. That is to our shame. Oh that God would awaken a few to what it means to know God and use them to arouse others from their sleep in order to pursue Him and His glory!

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