“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” (Acts 17:23)
Here’s a strange. It’s possible to be devoted to—even worship—a god who is, for all practical purposes, unknown to you. And stranger still, it is possible for that god to be the true God.
Here, in Acts seventeen, Paul confronts such people, a group of philosophers, made up of Epicureans, who enjoyed life and Stoics, who endured it. These men of Athens had gathered on Mars Hill to do what philosophers have always done: “…to tell, or to hear some new thing” (v.21). The fact that they were interested in what Paul had to say about Christ and the Resurrection would indicate that philosophy and worship are closely related. This is why the study of philosophy must be undertaken subjectively, weighing everything against the infallible Word of God, a truth that, fortunately, is not lost on my grandson, Richard, a graduate student in Philosophy.
Paul accused these men of offering their devotion ignorantly to an admittedly unknown God. And I would suggest to you that it is possible for Christians to be as guilty of this as these philosophers. Here’s why I say this: Notice in verse twenty-five that Paul says, the God who made the world cannot be worshipped “with men’s hands.” Yet how many of us look upon service to God as evidence and means of worship. John 4:24 tells us, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” If that be the case, bowing my spirit and my will to the will of God, as revealed in His Word, the Source of all truth, is the very foundation of worship. Service is both commendable and commanded. But it should never be confused with worship. Mary and Martha may have been sisters, but they were not the same.
The Father is still seeking worshippers (Jno. 4:23), but not the “ignorant” kind. Ones who will worship “in spirit and in truth.” Then, and only then, should we offer Him the service of our hands.