“Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.” (Isaiah 46:12-13)
The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. First of all, we witness the reality of human religion in 17:16-18a. Second, in Acts 17:18b-21, we witness the reality in humans for the new. Thirdly, in Acts 17:22-23 we witness the reality of human worship. Fourthly, we witness in Acts 17:24-28 the reality of the creator. Fifthly, we witness in Acts 17:29-31 the reality of the only savior and judge.
“Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 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.”
As we must do when we share the gospel, the Apostle Paul transitions from the truth of knowing God as the only creator, to the equally important knowledge that God, in the person and work of Jesus Christ, is the only savior. While knowledge and revelation from God that He exists as creator is sufficient to condemn the idolatrous sinner (Romans 1:18-32), it is not sufficient to redeem the sinner.
Redemption, or salvation from sin’s penalty, power and eventual presence, is only through Jesus Christ. This is on the basis of Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection from the dead. While Paul only makes reference to Christ’s resurrection, it is a short hand form reference of the complete work of Jesus Christ.
Paul declares that God is not like a lifeless idol of gold, stone or any image formed from man’s imagination. Rather, God is eternal and sovereign and He commands all kinds of people to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation is not about walking down an asile or raising your hand. Nowhere in Scripture are sinners invited to come to Christ. Sinners are commanded to repent of their sins to trust Christ as their Lord and Savior. This salvation is not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles.
Dr. R.C. Sproul explains, “Until the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s special redemptive revelation was addressed almost exclusively to Israel, leaving the pagan nations largely in ignorance (except for the general revelation throughout the cosmos that left them without excuse; Romans 1:18-25). God did not impose on the Gentiles the judgment they deserved, and now He has sent Paul to proclaim to all people everywhere, calling them to repentance.”
However, God is not only creator and savior, but He also is judge. He will judge the world in purity, righteousness and holiness. This judgement, as is His salvation, is on the basis of the person of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Sproul continues by saying, “The final day of judgment (Revelation 20:12-15) would be an alien idea both to the Epicureans, who believed that the gods could not be bothered by earthly events, and to the Stoics, who view history as running in endless cycles. The Athenians rejection of the Man whom God appointed will result in Jesus finally and justly rejecting them on that Day of Judgment. Paul stresses that God’s call to repentance and faith is not merely an invitation but a command.”
Often people will say that they believe in God. Such knowledge, while good to a point, is insufficient to save a person from their sins and the wrath of God. Such knowledge is only sufficient to condemn. Repentance and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone removes the sinner from the judgment of God. Resolve to never compromise the truth of the gospel.
Have you repented of your sins and placed your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ to redeem your soul? If not, God commands you to do so today.
Soli deo Gloria!