“Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” – Acts 17:29,30
We live in the gospel age. The gospel age began on the day of Pentecost when God poured out His Spirit on Christ’s disciples and they were empowered to fulfill the great commission, to preach the gospel in every land. We may also call this age, the age of accountability. God overlooked the ignorance of the Gentiles in times past, but not now, not in this age. All men and all women from every culture, tribe and tongue are COMMANDED to repent!
The language used here is not soft. It is not mild or weak or feeble or irresolute. The language used here is firm and decisive. It is black and white. You either repent or you face the consequences. You are now held fully accountable for your disposition in this matter. Failure to repent will rightly bring upon you the wrath of an angry God who gave you space for penitence. The Apostle Paul was insistent with the Areopagus crowd. We can be too. The gospel is to be preached unabashedly. God no longer overlooks the foolish religious or irreligious practices of the heathen. God says, “You heathen are on notice, REPENT!”
Dear Christian, are you taken aback by such boldness of speech? Let me tell you that too often we seem apprehensive about sharing the gospel. I have apprehensions, myself. Perhaps I hope to win over the unbeliever by my gentle indirectness. My conversations are meant to “sneak up” on the gospel presentation, waiting for some signal from the hearer that he is inviting or allowing me to be more direct in calling him to faith in Jesus Christ. In truth, my conversations may very well give the unbelievers the impression that I find their philosophies palatable even though they reject the notion that, apart from Christ, we are guilty sinners bound for eternal hell. I must pray to God for boldness. These philosophical conversations I have are not by chance, they are by appointment. They are directed from heaven and in them, I am Christ’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20), I must act that way.
The Athenians were quite content with their devilish worship. They did not hide their pantheon of idols from public display, no, quite the opposite. Their gods occupied a position of prominence in their public spaces. The Apostle Paul used their interest in “higher beings” to unveil before them the one and only God, the one they knew as the “unknown God.” He gained their attention and boldly set before them the very essence of the gospel. With all authority and power, in the name of God Almighty, he said, “REPENT,” or you will all perish.
The heathen of our day are no less forward in promoting their vain philosophies. With all boldness the heathen of our day preach their nihilistic views. They advance the notion that everyone should be free to do whatever is right in their own eyes. Are we then to shrink back and allow this philosophy to go unchallenged? No, we mustn’t. Where they are bold as instruments of the devil, we must be the bolder as ambassadors of the King. Where they spout error that leads to condemnation, we preach the truth that leads to eternal life. They are wrong and we are right. We need to make no apologies. God, in the past, overlooked the vanities of the heathen, but now He commands all men, everywhere, to repent…and so must we!