because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."Acts 17:31(NASB)
There is an urgency in the message that Paul delivered to the unbelieving pagans in the Gentile city of Athens, for some followed after the hedonistic philosophies which pursued pleasure rather than knowledge, while others were stoics pantheists who considered that wisdom lay in the total restraint of human emotions. Either way, the teaching that Paul gave in this city was unpalatable to these paganistic idolaters.
One of the main messages that Paul was keen to get over to these unbelieving Gentiles in Athens, was that God, the Maker of heaven and earth, has fixed a day when He is going to judge the world in righteousness. And that judgement, they were informed, would take place through a Man, Whom God Himself had appointed, a Man Who had been raised from the dead. And His Resurrection would serve as the as proof of His authenticity and authority to take on this judicial role as judge of all.
Paul used the wisdom of men, and not the whole counsel of God to set down His argument before the Athenians who were listening to him. Paul spoke to the gathering in Athens with an articulate, philosophical argument, but he did not mention the gospel of grace and the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He mentioned judgement, but he did not talk about sin nor the need for salvation. He talked of man's relationship with God as His children, which was something that these idolators related to, but he did not mention that we were dead in our trespasses and sin which has estranged us from the living God until by faith we are born again into His family.
Paul described the Man Whom God had appointed to judge the world, but he did not mention the name of Jesus Who died to pay the penalty for sin and Who would save them by grace through faith in His finished work at Calvary. He talked of the resurrection from the dead but omitted to tell them of Christ sacrificial work on the Cross as part of God's redemption plan for mankind, the forgiveness of sin. Ironically, Paul argued at Athens from human logic rather than presenting the simple gospel of Christ, and little was achieved in this city of Athens.
There IS an urgency in the message that Paul delivered to the Athenians, for the day IS coming when Christ will judge the world in righteousness, but the world needs to know the truth of the gospel of grace - that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead so that all who believe on Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Judgement is coming but those who have trusted in Christ as Saviour have already had their sins judged at the Cross, but those who have rejected His free offer of salvation will have to stand before Him as condemned sinners.
It was after his stay in Athens that we discover Paul reaching a decision to preach nothing but Christ - and Him crucified. How important that we also tell unbelievers, who are spiritually dead, that sin has separated them from God and that the wages of sin is death. How vital to let them know that the free gift of God is salvation. How critical to let them know that there is forgiveness of sins and life everlasting for all who trust in the name of Jesus - Who died and rose again from the dead, on our behalf.
How important to preach the word of truth and tell all who are dead in their trespasses and sins that God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.. for 'He who believes in Him is not judged; but he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
For all who reject Christ's sacrificial death and God's offer of salvation - that final day of judgement is fast approaching, for God has fixed a day in which the crucified and resurrected Jesus will judge the world in righteousness. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake on that day: some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Let us preach Christ and Him crucified.. while there is still time.
Heavenly Father, thank You that my sins were judged at the Cross and that there is now no condemnation for me because I am in Christ. But I realise that there are many that remain dead in their sins. I pray that You will use me to tell those that You place in my path, that Christ died for their sins, that He was buried, and rose again, so that all who believe on Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.