No More Ignorance
"Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. (30) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (31) Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." (Acts 17:29-31)
Today is a day of opportunity. Today affects your eternity. The fact is that your life is short--“…what is your life? It is even a vapour…” (Jas. 4:14). Life is short and eternity is very long. Certainly, any reasonable person would see that it is to his or her good to spend their years here in preparation for eternity. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
“The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.” (Luke 12:23) There is more to this life than eating, drinking, and having a "good" time. If that is all that life was, it would be shallow indeed. Maybe you are one of those people who thinks that you had better get all you can for yourself now because when you die you will cease to exist; some crassly call it 'the big dirt nap.' Thankfully there is more to you than a body; you are a living soul specially created in the image of your Almighty Creator.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. ... And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 1: 26, 27; 2:7)
THERE IS AN APPOINTED DAY OF JUDGMENT
Acts 17:31 “…he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness…”
God has appointed a day. In other words, on God's calendar He has a day already marked for the coming judgment, and no one will change what God has appointed. God does all things right, and you can be assured that the Lord will judge you righteously. That means that every one gets judged by the same standard/laws. God does not play politics--He is no respecter of persons. The question arises, 'How will I fare in the judgment?'
The Living God has already pronounced judgment on you, yes, already! This is to your advantage. Now you can hear God's judgment upon you and know exactly how you stand before Him. What is your standing? Here is what God says:
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Psalm 14:1-3)
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
This is far from flattering, and you may very well be quite put-out at being described as corrupt from the inside out. We fight against this/deny this truth. God is not in the dark about our hatred of the truth of our corruption, and the Lord is straight forward with us about it. Saying...
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient..." (Romans 1:28)
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt..." (Psalm 14:1)
Turning away from the truth is common, but it is completely unreasonable. If you come face to face with the fact that you are a corrupt sinner headed for death and Hell and turn away from the truth and deny it you are like the person that finds out that they have an aggressive cancer but refuses life saving treatment because they deny the truth. Denial of the truth is no cure.
THERE IS AN APPOINTED JUDGE
Sin came into the world by man. You are responsible for your sin. Do not cite the common proverb, 'every tub sits on its own bottom,' when it refers to someone else. God loves you and sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die in your place. The Lord Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) The Lord Jesus has done even greater than this. When Jesus commanded, "Love your enemies" (Matthew 5:44), He was no hypocrite; He loves you. It is written that, "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) More on this in a moment.
These things refer to Jesus Christ as saviour of men's souls. Jesus Christ is also the judge of men's souls. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Judge. You read at the top of this page that God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. As you read further in this portion of holy Scripture it says that the coming judgment is to be performed “by that man whom he hath ordained” In another place the Lord says, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son ... For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; and hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man." (John 5:22, 26-27) Read some of the Scripture portions that describe Jesus' coming in judgment.
Jesus is able to come in judgment because He is not dead--Jesus Christ is alive. The Lord Jesus Christ is alive: “…he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
HE FIRST DIED
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was raised from the dead because he first died. But why did He die? The Scriptures state, “for Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” (1Pet. 2:24) Your sin has separated you from your Creator, but "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
God is always just. That mean that He will never excuse sin; He will always punish sinners. It is unjust to let criminals unpunished! Surely you would not be comfortable with an unjust God who is all-powerful. (Think about that one for a moment.) Therefore, God sent His Son to die in your place; to receive your punishment for your sin, "that he [God] might be just, and the justifier of him [any sinner] which believeth in Jesus."
It is Jesus Christ that shed His blood for you and opened the way for you to be justly forgiven of your crimes against your God. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:20) Jesus Christ could die as your substitute because He had no sin of His own. So Jesus, in love toward you and obedience to His Heavenly Father “offered himself without spot to God.” (Heb. 9:14) In another place it is written, "For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2Cor. 5:21) And again, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1Pet. 1:18-19) The Lord Jesus died for your sin, He rose bodily the third day, and is the only Saviour. Jesus tells us, " Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) There are not many ways to God, only one way appointed by God Himself, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Act 4:12)
SALVATION IS A GIFT
We have spoken that “the wages of sin is death;" but you need to also see the sure and great hope placed before sinners, for "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) A wage is earned/deserved. A gift is free, undeserved, and based upon another's kindness. This is what grace is, kind action towards one that does not deserve the kindness. It is by the grace of God that sinners must be saved--"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9) Those who try to work their way to Heaven are boasters of their own greatness, but not before God. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (Jam. 4:6)
Just take another moment to think this over. If you have read the above about your sin and the coming judgment you may react, like many people do, by thinking that you have to do better--I.e. work harder, give-up sins, etc. Consider first, to work for salvation is impossible, it is a gift, that is the way of God. Secondly, you should give-up sin. Definitely, do not keep sinning against your good God. But how does doing right today wipe out the sins of yesterday? If you owe the credit card company money on purchases from year and you pay all your current credit card purchases off every month that old debt will remain unpaid. Besides, "the wages of sin is death" and you do not want to have to collect those wages in Hell forever. Salvation is a gift. It cannot be laboured for, but it must be received.
CALL TO REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD AND FAITH IN CHRIST
Jesus is ready to receive sinners that are sick of sin and want to be forgiven the penalty of sin and be freed from the power of sin in their lives. This disposition (a sincere and deep rooted attitude) of heart-sickness over one's sin and looking to Christ Jesus alone to be saved is the precondition (not a work) to receiving the gift of salvation. The command and invitation to sinners is "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21)
The Gospel is "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (1Cor 15:3-4)
The Gospel Invitation (and Command) was preached by John the Baptist (the first Gospel preacher: Mk. 1:1-5; Mt. 11:12) "Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." (Lk. 3:7-8) Flee from the wrath to come, sounds familiar. That is because the message has not changed. "Fruits worthy of repentance"--that is to say, proof that shows that you have turned from sin. You cannot just say my sin is rotten and continue in it. That is hypocrisy. True repentance is leaving sin and running to Jesus Christ for salvation from sin.
Jesus preached the same message that John the Baptist preached; saying, "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mk. 1:14-15) "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mat. 4:17)
The Apostles were commanded to preach the same: "And [Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things." (Lk. 24:46-48) So that is exactly what they preached, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Ac. 2:38)
True repentance and true faith in Christ Jesus are inseparable: "For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." (Mat. 21:32) "Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." (Ac. 19:4) You are called to repent of your sin toward God and trust your eternal soul to Jesus Christ and His effective shed blood--"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." (Ac. 16:31)