Institutional First Baptist Church Weekly Sermon
Delivered By
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr
Delivered On
August 17, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Central Passage
Acts 17:22-24
Subject
Getting to Know God
Description
Dr. E. G. Sherman, Jr. Sunday August 17, 2014
Getting to Know God
Acts 17:22-24
Religion has been a recurring interest of humankind throughout 
history. The Ancient Egyptians, five thousand years before, Christ worshiped 
several gods, one of which was Rah - the sun god. In terms of Biblical history, 
the Ancient Hebrews worship a God whom they called Jehovah. While both 
of these Ancient Civilizations were religious, they differed in the number of 
Gods they recognized. The Egyptians worshiped many gods; hence, their 
religion was polytheistic. In contrast, the Ancient Hebrews worshiped one 
God; therefore, they were known as being monotheistic. 
From those two Ancient Civilizations down to contemporary times, the 
human group has sought to known a Supernatural Being, or in some 
instances, Supernatural Beings. Our text for today’s sermon, is a narrative 
of a religious setting in the Greek world during the First Century. It describes 
the religious polytheism in Greece during the time of Paul’s preaching. As 
noted in the text, Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill and delivered a soul 
stirring sermon on getting to know God. That message will undergird our 
sermon today entitled, Getting to Know God. This text was selected in
accordance with two considerations: to commemorate the annual Pan Hellenic 
Worship here at Institutional First Baptist Church and to reemphasize the 
ongoing need, often cluttered by elusive doctrines, to know God. Hence, 
the sermon - as earlier indicated - has been given the title, Getting to know 
God. It will be structured around three objectives: (1) to highlight the historic 
need to know God, (2) to identify some obstacles in getting to know God, and 
(3) to present the Judeo-Christian model for getting to know God. 
Prior to addressing these objectives, attention will be focused on the 
central concept around which the sermon is based; it is that of the word, God. 
Alan Richardson, edited a theologically acclaimed book entitled, A Theological 
Word Book of the Bible. Within that book, the word God is treated under 
four headings: biblical knowledge about God, biblical thoughts about God, 
names of God, and Gods. Of particular interest for this sermon is that of 
names of God. The Ancient Hebrews used several names to denote God, 
the three more frequently used were: Elohim, Jahweh, and Adonai. Although 
the word Jehovah has widespread used in reference to God, the Ancient 
Hebrews had little use for that term because it also designated the 
Cainites’ god who Hebrews viewed as an idol god. 
An examination of Old Testament history will clearly show that the word 
God is the most frequently used concept in Old Testament History. In a slightly 
different context, the concept God can be viewed in terms of three historic 
functions. Pantheism is the oldest view of God; it is the notion that God in 
part of all aspects of the universe, but not as designer nor controller of any 
thing. In this regard, god can be a rock, a tree, or a piece of wood. Regardless 
of form, god was meaningful to the individual who had a piece of him. This 
practice was known as idiolatry. This type of religious life existed during the 
time when Abram was a youngster and it was against this paganism that 
God called on Abram to leave the land of his parents ( ).The second 
view of God is called philosophical; it was reflected in the teachings of
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Essentially those Gracian philosophers taught 
that God was an ethical idea that intervene not into human affairs. Thirdly, 
God is presented in the Judeo Christian religion as a reality that not only 
is the source of creation but one that actively enters into human affairs. It 
is this third view that anchored Paul’s preaching during the First Century 
and the Christian’s hope down through the ages and for years to come. 
Against this background on the word, God, let us now return to the 
earlier identified objectives, the first of which is to highlight the historic 
need to know God. Any book on world history will disclose religion as being a 
common theme in human civilizations. Starting with the Egyptian civilization, 
continuing with the Hebrew civilization, glancing at the Greek civilization, 
glimpsing at the Roman civilization, and focusing on Western civilization - they 
all have - in some varying forms - place emphasis on religion. As noted in 
text, the Greeks during Paul’s time were Paganistic and polytheistic; hence, 
they built a stature for each of their gods. They were also concerned about the 
prospect of having omitted a god; therefore, the Greeks erected a stature to the 
unknown god. That effort was their meager attempt to please all of the gods. 
Much to their dismay, it was - also - the basis of Paul’s sermon to them in 
which he labeled them as being too superstitious ( Act 17: ). 
Many years separate contemporary time from the First Century when 
Paul preached that sermon on Mars Hill; yet there are current indicators of 
human efforts to compartment God into physical locations and blocks of 
worship time. This so called “fast food” approach to God leads to the second 
consideration in our sermon, namely - some obstacles in getting to know God. 
The problem of getting to know God is fueled by many factors, some of 
which are: priorities, materialism, and human perception. At the first level, the 
difficulty is that of placing too little, if any, emphasis on the need to know God. 
Within this context, there is the tendency to neglect any considerations of God 
until a crisis occurs. At that time, God becomes a sort of spiritual 911.
The second obstacle in getting to know God is that of materialism. It is 
especially evident in Western society where emphasis is placed on success, 
objects, money, and worldly possessions. Many are the people, including our 
on race, who are more interested in assets than salvation. In the meantime, 
such persons are either unknowledgeable of or indifferent to the biblical 
teaching - seek ye first the kingdom of the Lord thy God and its righteousness 
and all others things will be added there unto you. 
The third difficulty in getting to know God is that of perception, or the
ability to picture and experience the presence of God. So years ago, the 
German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, distinguished between two means by 
which a person acquires knowledge; he labeled them as noumenally and 
phenomenally. He used the first type to denote intuition or spiritual insight; 
this is the means by which faith takes precedence over sight. The other type, 
according to Kant, is that knowledge acquired by the sensory capacities - or 
in the daily training process. It is quite effective for school learning but 
totally ineffective for spiritual perception. This deficit leads to the final
consideration of our sermon, namely, what is the Judeo Christian model for 
getting to know God? It is clearly and repeatedly stated in the Bible. Therein 
the Scripture tells us, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is One God”. It speaks again 
at Mt. Sinai where God said unto Moses, “I am the Lord thy God that brought 
thee out of the Land of Egypt and the house of bondage”. Through the writing 
of Malachi, the Bible calls on us to trust God. In the New Testament, the 
Bible tells us that Jesus is the Son of God; further, it tells us that Jesus
called upon us to pray to the Father in his name and God will answer our 
prayer. Additionally, Saint John tells us that the Holy Spirit growneth or 
interprets our prayer to the Heavenly Father. Collectively these and many 
others Scriptures tell us that we can get to know God. In Hebrews 11:6 
reminds us, ...he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is 
a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”. This heart warming fact assures 
us that we can get to know God. Lastly, as we get to know God we will come 
to realize that He is good, him mercy endureth to all generation, and his 
truth is everlasting.
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