Acts 17:30-31, “30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Paul in one occasion brought the gospel to the Athenians in Acts 17, very religious people. They believed that there was a force, a being beyond their ability to understand who made all things. In their state, they lacked understanding of who God truly was (is) though they were very religious. Paul says to them vs. 22 “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”. They worshipped a God they did not know and no one ever instructed them of the Creator, His nature and His plan for salvation. In another occasion in Romans 10, Paul encountered with the Israelites in vs. 1-2 of Romans 10 he says,“1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge“. The Athenians and the Israelites were NOT ignorant of the existence of a greater being God, they were ignorant of His true nature. To the Israelites, Paul says, Romans 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God“. They created a righteousness they were more comfortable with the same righteousness we see today, people coming to the Lord with righteousness they have created for themselves. Before Paul shared with them what it took to be saved, he took time to instruct them on the true nature of God that they would have understanding before he shared with them how they could be saved.
In presenting the gospel, many teachers jump or rush into these few verses to get sinners saved, Romans 10:9-13, “9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”… 13 For“whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Very true, but go back to the beginning and read the vs. 1-8 that led to vs. 9, Paul challenged their righteousness and taught them the righteousness of God revealed through the law of Moses we all fall short of and then he presented Christ who satisfied the demands of the law through His death on the cross and His resurrection. The bible says in vs.” 4 Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes”, that was (is) the good news of the gospel. In reading a few verses later within the same chapter, the bible says, Israel rejected the gospel and so were the Athenians. The people who were religious and zealous for God rejected the gospel when Paul taught the true righteousness of God. Preacher Paul Washer said (paraphrased),“Many people like the idea of God but will not submit if they taught His nature”(Paraphrased). This scares me because many are led to the Lord without being first instructed on the righteousness of God to let go of their self righteousness and submit to the righteousness of God.
To be truly saved, one cannot be ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed through the law. The righteousness of God should either make a sinner very angry like many of the Israelites and Athenians who rejected the gospel though dubbed zealous and religious or be humbled by the righteousness of God like Isaiah who was said “Woe is me for I’m done” and cried for mercy. One thief on the cross ignorant in the beginning acknowledged his deep sin when he realized he had transgressed the law and understood he deserved to be crucified yet there was a Man in the middle who did not deserve to be there, He was innocent. This thief was ignorant because in the beginning he like the other thief was mocking Jesus. But then looking at Jesus on the cross, innocent Man on the cross, his ignorance disappeared. He acknowledged his sin and flung to Jesus to save him. The bible says Acts 17:30-31,”30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
We are living in times where men have lost reverence to the Almighty God and have no understanding of His true nature, even people who call themselves Christians (not truly saved) blaspheme the name of the Lord. We do injustice to those who want to get saved by giving them Romans 10:9-13 first without giving them Romans 10:1-8 and Acts 17:30-31 or doing a drive by through the verses they desperately need rather than the ones they crave.
Here is what has happened over the years that if we are not careful of, we will continue to see great fall away as people “Accept Jesus As Their Personal Savior” and have little or no understanding of the righteousness of God. People will like the idea of being saved and not be saved. Read these words by William Booth the founder of Salvation Army and see if this is not true today, “In Answer To Your Inquiry, I Consider That The Chief Dangers Which Confront The Coming Century Will Be Religion Without The Holy Ghost, Christianity Without Christ, Forgiveness Without Repentance, Salvation Without Regeneration, Politics Without God, And Heaven Without Hell.” Where are you? Blessings, Ev