Acts 17:30-31 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
There is a beauty in this message from Paul to the pagan unbelievers in Athens. Paul spoke to these people in words they could understand. He pointed out their religiosity in worshiping all the different idols. He even noted their worship of “an unknown god,” a clear desire of the people not to leave out any deity. He talked about their own poets making reference to humanity being the offspring of God.
But when it came time to talk about what these people needed, Paul did not hold back. He did not soften the gospel one ounce. He hit them hard with the true call of God to repentance. Paul told them that God has been overlooking their ignorance. This is not to say that God was letting them off the hook on judgment day, but that God had simply not yet judged them. God well could have struck them all dead where they stood for worshipping those statues, but he was not doing so, and that is the overlooking that Paul references. But God will not allow them to continue in their pagan practices. God commands them to repent. God will judge. What is the proof of this? The proof is that God raised Jesus from the dead, elevating him far above any deity ever imagined by man. Jesus is God the Son, and he is the one and only way to God.
Again I point out that Christianity is not a tolerant religion. We do not attack others, and we do not use violence to force people to follow (any who did so in the past were not behaving as Christ). At the same time, we do not, under any circumstances, let people think that whatever they believe is OK. If people are living for themselves or are following false gods, it is our responsibility to tell them to repent. There is one way to God. That way is through faith in Jesus Christ. Any religion that claims something else is false, wrong, and it will lead people into the wrath of God. God proved that what I say here is true, because he raised Jesus from the dead.
Today, if you are a Christian, recognize that Christianity was not one of many options for you, and it is not one of many options for your friends. If you have Christ, you have life and forgiveness. If you do not have Christ, God commands you to repent and come to Christ. Christians, you must call your friends to the same repentance that Paul called the Athenians. You must be just as clear and just as bold. Otherwise, you are leaving them in an eternally dangerous ignorance.
If you do not yet believe in Jesus, let me call you as clearly as Paul called the Athenians to repent. God has so far overlooked your ignorance by not judging you on the spot. However, that will not last forever. There will come a day when you stand before him, and you will answer for your sin. And let me be very clear, if your sin is something as simple as not having believed in Jesus, your sin is enough to have you cast into hell for an eternity. There is no second chance. There is no way out. You have only one hope, and that hope is Jesus. God proved this to be true, because he raised Jesus from the dead.
Lord, I pray that all who read this will recognize the true and urgent call to Christ. Let Christians see this and be called to share their faith with honesty and boldness. Let those who do not know Christ see this, and sense your calling to faith in Jesus. Lord, I know that you have given us a way to be forgiven our sins, and I thank you for that way. Jesus is the way. I pray that all will come to know Christ before it is too late.