"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,Acts 17:30(NASB)
The Bible tells us that man was made in the image of God. However, down through the centuries and across cultures, we discover that man chooses to make gods for themselves, through the imagination of their own hearts. The biblical worldview is that man was created by God, but since Adam's fall when sin entered into the world and twisted man's thinking, it was man who started to create gods in their own image and to fashion idols of silver and gold, wood, and stone, in accordance with their corrupted, pagan thinking.
It was to this heathen culture in Athens that Paul declared the truth that man was made in the image of God, and he announced that all people everywhere should turn from their idolatrous ways to serve the true and living God.
But both pre-flood generations and post-flood people became ignorant of the truth that God created man in His own image. And despite many preachers of righteousness (like Noah), men of faith (like Abraham), and God's covenant people (Israel), all of whom knew the truth of their origin and their need for salvation, man in general was ignorant of their roots and estranged from the God Who created them and Who came to earth to redeem them from their sins.
Now and again, we find that certain components of pagan thinking echo certain elements of biblical truth, but the simple gospel that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again according to the Word of God, cannot be compromised for there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved.
During the period of time that preceded the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, God graciously overlooked this ignorance in man. During this unenlightened pre-Cross period, we read that God winked at their ignorance and allowed their lack of understanding to pass unnoticed.
However, with the coming of Christ, this terrible ignorance of the truth could no longer be overlooked. Because of Christ's sacrificial death on the Cross for the sins of mankind and His glorious Resurrection from the dead, mans' sin could no longer be winked at or overlooked, and so God in His grace gave humanity a fresh start. And Paul, the chosen apostle to the Gentiles, was anointed of God to share the good news of the gospel of grace to all who have ears to hear.
Having overlooked the long centuries of human ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent - they should turn away from their pagan ways, and turn to Christ and be saved. In His grace and mercy, we have been privileged to hear the wonderful truth of the gospel of Christ.
May we seek to tell others the good news of salvation who, like these men of Athens, remain dead in their trespasses and sins and eternally estranged from the God Who created them... the same God Who died for their sins on Calvary's Cross so that by faith in Him, they might live with Him forever.
Heavenly Father, what an amazing and long-suffering God You are to love humanity so much that You sent Christ to die for our sin and to rise the third day, so that all who believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life. Thank You that You sought me out, opened my eyes to the truth, and saved me. But Lord, I know the day is fast approaching when the opportunity to be saved will be ended. Lord, You do not want any to perish, but all to come into a saving knowledge of Yourself. Use me to share the good news to others while there is still time. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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