Sermon on Acts 17:24-31 Who Is God?

This is the last in a five part series that shows how to easily outline the text of a Bible passage (Outlining a Bible passage for dummies, Acts 17:24), the text outline itself (Text Outline of Acts 17:24-31), then a theological outline  (Theological Outline of Acts 17:24-31), then a sermon/homiletic outline (Sermon Outline for Acts 17:24-31), to be followed by the actual sermon or lesson (which is this part of the series).

The same steps apply whether you are creating a study of a book of the Bible, a Bible study lesson, or a sermon. The steps for creating a study of a book of a Bible are: pray (each step should be bathed in prayer), read the material (three times if possible), write a summary of the book , write an hermeneutical outline that describes the text (telling what God said through the human authors to the original audience then and there), write a theological outline that presents the timeless theological ideas (which apply to both the original audience then and there, as well as your intended audience here and now ), write an homiletical outline  (outlining what you will present in your sermon/lesson/study), write the study/lesson/sermon. In each step, you use the material from the previous steps, praying during each step.

This post is an example of the sermon. Remember to pray before starting and continue praying until finished. We will take the textual, theological, and sermon outlines and create the sermon. The idea is to present a cohesive message that follows the text we are preaching from. We should not teach what is not presented in the text, but we can supplement what is there to make our points more easily understood or to make it more impactful. We will have to have an introduction that gets the audience’s attention, while segue waying into the text and message being presented. 


Acts 17:24-31

Who Is God?

 

I.      Working at the company I do, I work with people from all nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Many of them know I am Christian. As such, I am often asked questions about God. One man with whom I have worked, a man from India, once asked me what kind of a ‘loving father” would destroy all mankind because they did not believe in Him? Another person I work with recently asked me what kind of a god would let people suffer, would let people die in earthquakes or famine or mudslides? If people know you are a Christian, sooner or later someone will ask you questions about God. How do we describe God? How do we know who God is? For that matter, if we are seeking God, we too will be asking these same questions, others like them. And if we DO know God, what should that mean for us? We’re going to take a look at 8 verses of the Bible and try to answer a few of these questions. I want us to look at some of the attributes of God – or another way to say that, I want us to take a look at who God is and what He has done for us, and how we should respond. Let’s turn to Acts 17:24-31 and look at these verses now:

 

24″The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from  each one of us. 28’For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29″Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

 

II.   (v24) The God – this is a powerful phrase. How many here have ever wondered if there is a god?

a.     With his first words about God, Paul stated that there is only one God – he knew what his listeners believed and what their need was, and presented the truth about who God is – “The God”.

b.    Many people who grow up in the church never think twice about whether there is a god or not. Others would never think to question whether there is more than one god or not. But for those of us who have taken other paths, this is something we have to wrestle with. This is one of the first things we have decide upon – is there a god, and if so, is there more than one god. Here we see Paul stating without question that there is one god. And this God is unique.

c.     This means that whatever you put your faith in had better be the right thing – otherwise the consequences could be drastic.

III.         (v24) The God who  

a.     By simply choosing his words carefully, such as ‘who’ and ‘He’, he stated that God is a person. This goes directly against the popular philosophies of both that time and this. In one sentence, he addressed the ideas that things are god; that god does not interact with mankind; that there is no god; and there are many gods.

b.    You ask, ‘so what?’ What does it matter if God is a person? Well, let me tell you – If God were a rock, you could talk to it all day long and get no response. If God were a plant, YOU would have to water it, and feed it and care for it when the temperature dropped below freezing. And the best you could hope for when you spoke to it might be for it to grow. It would mean that God is powerless.

c.     But God is a person – this means God listens to you. God interacts with you. And as we will see, God cares about you.

IV. (v24) The God who made the world and everything in it

a.     God is the creator. . This message goes back to the first verse of the Bible – Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This idea directly opposes the idea that chance or random acts of atoms caused people to come into existence. This teaches that God is the creator of everything.

b.    People often wonder if God can take care of this or that problem. Let me tell you, if God created everything (and he did), then God is both the creator and is all powerful. God can do anything! People confuse the fact that they build things, like stock portfolios or houses or farms or businesses or organizations or churches or families with the fact that GOD created all things. GOD did it. Oh, you might have been a tool that God used to create a car or a house or family, but don’t confuse the fact that you were involved in the creation of those things with the fact that GOD is the one who did it. And God is the one who you need to put your faith in – you need to believe and live out that belief.

V.   (v24) The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth

a.     GOD is the one who created everything and as such, GOD is the one in charge of everything – He is the sovereign ruler. If God is in charge, then why worry when things go bad? Why worry about whether there will be enough food or if you will have what you need? Why worry what so-and-so thinks about you? God is in charge! Let HIM worry! If God is in charge, then you can put your trust in GOD and relax. When things go bad, do you look first to your friends or family? When you need things, do you expect others to help you out? When you’re in trouble, to whom do you turn to first? When your family needs help, do you automatically try to bail them out? Do you try to fix things – in your life or in the lives of others? Are you trying to live by agendas and goals? If so, make sure that they are of God’s making and not man’s. God’s goal is to grow individuals who grow to trust and look like Christ and in so doing grow God’s kingdom. You need to ask God what you need to do. You need to ask God to change you so you can hear Him and be who He wants you to be. You need to first turn to the one who is in charge (and that is not you). You should first turn to God – find out what GOD wants you to do. Ask God and see what HE says first. Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t go to others seeking help. And I’m not saying you should not help others in need. I’m saying that before we do anything, we need to find out from the one in charge what needs to be done, and how and when.

VI. (v24) and does not live in temples built by hands.

a.     God is transcendent – which simply means God is outside His creation. God made everything and does not live in a church built by men. Yes, we call this the house of God, and rightly so, but do not confuse the fact that we call this the house of God with the fact that God lives outside what HE has created. God is not limited to being in his church – though He is here. God is not limited to being where there are Christians, though He is there as well. The fact that God is outside His creation means that God sees everything. You can rest assured that when you leave church, God is there. When you go home, God is there. When you go to the store, God is there. Where ever you go and what ever you do, God is there. This is the God we need to trust. Not some medallion or some dead saint or “the universe”, but the God who created everything and sees everything and cares about you.

VII.       (v25) And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything

a.     Plainly and simply, God is self-sufficient – this means God does not NEED anything. Many times, we think we are doing such and such for God and that if WE don’t do it, then somehow God will suffer for it. The fact is, God managed to get things done before you were born and will continue to get things done after you pass away. God will live if you aren’t in church 5 days out of 7. Being a Christian is not about what God needs – it’s about what you need. You need God, not the other way around. It’s easy to get caught up in religion – in going to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night, in being in the choir, in going to bible study, in doing, doing, doing…. These are all wonderful things – don’t think for a moment I’m suggesting to not do them – but don’t do them for the wrong reasons. Do them because you want to know God, because you want to be in God’s will, not because God needs you to. Do them because you realize you need God, not because you think God needs you. Being a Christian is not about religion, it’s about a relationship with God.

VIII.      (v25) because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

a.     God is the provider and sustainer. God is our resource! Men, many times, think, “I’m a self-made man.” WRONG! So often we think, “I worked hard and bought this house! Look at the car I bought with the money I earned. I landed a new job. I acquired a new client. I made this child. I built this company.” So often we think and claim that we did this or did that, but the fact is, from God’s perspective, HE did it. God is the one who brought you into being. God is the one who gave, and gives, you breath. GOD is the one who gives you what you need, what you have. Paul tells us in verse 25 that God gives life, breath, and all things to all. Jesus said in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? “ Indeed, God gives us everything we need. If God gives all things to all, God must exist. If God gives all things to all, He must interact with, and work within, His creation. To give all things to all, God has to be powerful enough to give them. To give all things to all, God has to care enough to give them. That fact that God gives all things to all shows that God is good – even by our inadequate definition. Do you realize that God is good? Can you really say that you know God is good – even when things are difficult and you can’t see God’s hand in your life? God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. If Paul can talk about what God gives us – life, breath, and all things, then surely we can talk about the blessings God has given us – and name Him while we are doing it! Give God the credit. When’s the last time you thanked God for you being alive? When’s the last time you thanked God for what you have? When’s the last time you realized God is in control – not you?

 

IX. (v26) From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

a.     Genesis 2:7 reads, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” God created the first man – Adam. This goes against what evolution teaches. This goes against what many scientists and schools are teaching. We did not just jump from the ground one day by random acts of atoms, or by the will of the universe, or by the power of the “force”. No, GOD CREATED us. God created everyone – including every race and ethnic group and nation. God decided when people would live. God decided where people would live. With God in control, luck and chance do not exist. Do YOU know God is in control? Did you choose to move to this town? Did you grow up here? Did you choose to rent the apartment you live in? Did you choose the house you bought? If so, God says you did it because HE decided you would. I can tell you from experience that God moved my family to Memphis in 1996 and gave us a house when we didn’t have the money or credit to purchase one. God let me and Janessa know when it was time to move to Miami and gave us the money we needed to purchase a home there – to the point where we had unexpected bills from purchasing the home in Miami of $2600 and we didn’t have the money to cover it, we prayed and told Him that since HE had told us to move and buy the home, that it was HIS home and HE would have to provide the money to cover the bills – the next day we received $2600 worth of checks – exactly what we needed. God did it again when He moved us to Homestead – GOD chose where we would live, and when, and provided what we needed when we needed it. God decided where and when each of us would live. So the next time someone mentions that they wish these ‘foreigners’ would just all go home, remind them that GOD decides who lives where, and for how long. If you are wondering whether to move, ask God. If you are wondering why you are living, ask God. If you are wondering why you are living the way you are living, ask God. God put you here for a reason – I suggest HE’s the one we need to ask when we are uncertain whether to move on or not. Some people say God does not care about you, or that if he does He is not powerful enough to do anything. Other people say that God does not care what house you buy, but I can’t understand that since God decided where you would live and when.

 

X.   (v27-28) God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from  each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

a.     God is love. Think about it: God decided who would live; GOD decided where they would live; GOD decided when they would live. And WHY? So people can find GOD. God wants us to find Him. I know what anxiety is – to wonder what on earth I’m doing and what am I going to do next. So many times, we feel abandoned, lost, forgotten. So many times we wonder if anyone really cares if we are alive. God wants you to know that He loves you so much that HE decided where and when you’d live so you could find Him. God loves you and wants you to be His child. God wants us to be in His family. God loves you so much, He decided where and when you would live so that you, and others, can be in HIS family.

XI. (v29) “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill.

a.     God is spirit. God is not a candle. God is not a pack of tobacco. God is not hanging around your neck in the form of a cross. Your car is not God. Your money is not God. Your job is not God. Your boyfriend is not God. Your girlfriend is not God. Your husband is not God. Your wife is not God. Your child is not God. Your parents are not God. God is none of those things. God is the one who created you. God is the one who gives you life. God is the one who put you in the town you live in today. God is not something made by man or for man – God is spirit. As such, He is able to be everywhere. He is there when you need Him.

XII.       (v30) In the past God overlooked such ignorance,

a.     God is patient and forgiving. In the past, God overlooked our ignorance. God knows the things you’ve done. God knows the things you think. God knows who and what you are – don’t think for a minute that God is not aware of what you are doing. God knows you do the things you want to do, instead of the things God wants you to do. In Romans 7:19 Paul himself said, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.“  This from a man who killed Christians – and a man who was forgiven for what he had done. Even though God knows you better than you know yourself, God is patient and forgiving. He wants us to not only understand His patience and forgiveness, but to be a recipient of that same forgiveness. We often picture God like a human being, but unlike us, God has overlooked our ignorance. He overlooks our weaknesses. He gives us chance after chance.

XIII.     (v30) but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

a.     But while God is patient and forgiving, God is also holy. God is calling everyone, everywhere, to change! That’s what repent means – change! God is saying, ‘OK, I know what you’ve thought. I know what you’ve done. I know who you are. But now its time to change.” God wants you to be like Him – holy. God wants you to do what HE wants you to do, not what you want to do. God wants you to want to be His child. God wants you to trust Him – EVERY day – in good times and in bad. For some of us, the only time we live like there is a God is when we want Him to fix some mess we’ve created for ourselves. But God wants us to trust him when things are going well, just as much as He wants us to trust Him when things are bad.

XIV.     (v31) For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice

a.     God is righteous and just. Because He is holy, righteous and just, God HAS to judge mankind. God has already set the day when He will examine each of us to determine if we can live with Him in heaven. God wants people to turn away from following their own thoughts and desires and turn to Him. God wants us to rely on Him. He wants us to be in His family and to be with Him. But not everyone will be with Him when it’s all said and done. Some people will be in Hell. People who live like God does not exist will go to hell. By the same token, people who try to get into heaven based on their actions will also go to hell. Its not enough to be a nice person and give to the poor, you have to believe. But its not enough to believe that God exists. There has to be evidence that you believe. James 2:17-19 says, “…Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” Let me tell you, the demons will not be in heaven! And neither will any one who claims they believe, but do not live that faith. Jesus said in Matthew 7:20-23, “…[B]y their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”  In Acts 26:20, Paul says he “preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” We can’t just have a ‘saying’ faith, we must have a ‘saving’ faith. We got to have faith and we’ve got to walk the talk – Because God will judge.

XV.        (v31) by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

a.     God is the savior. God is going to judge us fairly by the man He appointed to be the judge – Jesus Christ, God’s Son! He gave the proof we need to know this when he raised Jesus from the dead. John 3:16 teaches us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There is no way you could ever be good enough to get into heaven without what God has done. That’s why God sent Jesus to suffer and die to pay for your sins. God knows the condition of your soul. God knows whether you believe or not. God knows whether you have belief or FAITH. The difference between the two is that the first is a thought; the second has actions that back up that thought. You might say you believe you can use a 20 year old car to drive from Miami to New York City, but you have to trust in that car to drive to New York City. Having faith in Christ is like that. There’s a difference between saying you believe something and living like it. God created the universe and everything in it – including you. God gives you everything you need. God doesn’t need you, but He wants you to be in His family. People are either in His family and will go to heaven, or they are not in His family and will go to hell. But God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you so that you can become more like Christ and be with Him in heaven. If you believe Christ is the only way to get to heaven, which is what the Bible teaches, then you will live like it. I’m not saying that you have to change everything right now – God accepts you just as you are. God loves you just the way you are and wants you to be in His family – He will help you change what needs to be changed in His time. But the time to make the decision for Him is now.

b.    If you have not yet made a conscious decision to accept what God has done for you and your need for Christ, now is the time to make that decision. God loves you and wants you to know that, but at the same time, the wrath of God is on those who do not believe and accept that He resurrected Son, Jesus Christ. He will judge the world through Christ. Paul preached the need for repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). If you want to be with God, you have to do it His way – believe. It’s like someone offering you a gift – the gift is there for the taking, but will you take it? Will you turn from a life of sin, a life without God in charge, and turn to God now? Some of you have been living a life that does not please God. Some of you have been doing things that would make Christ roll over in His grave – if He was still in it. But Christ is not in that grave, and you don’t have to live a life without God. God is forgiving and loves you. He wants you to love Him. If you already made a decision for Christ but have not been living like it, now is the time to rededicate your life to God. 



So we’ve learned the steps of how to create a sermon. These steps include: write an outline of the text of a passage of the Bible;  create a theological outline (which shows the timeless principles that apply to the original audience as well as your intended audience), write a sermon outline (which lays out how to merge the theological outline with the beginnings of the message God wants you want to deliver), and create a sermon (which is the message God wants you to deliver).

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2 Responses

  1. Well done, Wb.

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