Acts Devotionals

The Last Day

We started off yesterday implying that parents can be long-winded in exercising discipline … mostly this is because they want to protect their relationship with their children. God has been exceptionally patient with mankind, not to protect the relationship but to help man seek Him and find Him. This patience is a form of grace, yet man ignored God and His favor.

Paul is using the object entitled “the unknown God” to convince to these Greek Philosophers that the God this image represents is the only real, true God. He has shown the character and attributes of his God who is owner of all and in a general way, parent of mankind. God was patient up to the Flood and then up to Babel. His patience has extended to both Israel as a nation as well as all the nations of the world. In the fullness of time He entered this world as the Godman (Jesus Christ) to redeem His elect people. He promises to return again to conduct Judgment and bring things as we know to an end, starting a new, beautiful, sin free environment for His people, yet casting every other soul into the Lake of Burning Sulphur.

Throughout every time period (age), God has demonstrated longsuffering. He is extremely patient. This is how the next section in Acts 17 starts:

Ac 17:30 “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

1) God’s patience.

Ac 17:30 “In the past God overlooked such ignorance.”

This is referring to all the idols Paul saw, representing pagan gods. We must never forget that this was ‘demon worship’, and remains so today. However … in plain language, what is it that God “overlooked”? What exactly is this “ignorance”? Let me try to explain it like this …

(1) It relates in to:

Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

Their understanding was “darkened” and therefore their mindset was depraved. Wickedness so dominate the thinking, it controlled the mind and will resulting in a life separated from God. Spiritually there was nothing but depravity in every part of the being. Ignorance is ignorance of God and man’s need for reconciliation.

(2) It relates to the opposite of holiness.

1 Pet 1:14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

See the term “evil desires”? This implies ignorance of the holiness of God and the need to be personally holy.

(3) It relates to killing the author of life:

Ac 3:14 “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. 17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”

Look how Luke records Peter explaining ignorance. In connection with the healing of the cripple in the Colonnade and the Jews reacting negatively towards him, he says ignorance is disowning the Holy and Righteous One and killing the author of Life. They are so ignorant of the Messiah that they had Him killed and a murderer released instead. These three passage expound what … “in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” means. The main cause of this ignorance is because of a hard heart … a heart of stone! “Hardening” in Ephesians 4:18 means unyielding, inflexible and stubbornness. The point is that although God has been patient with man, man’s hardened heart is by choice because of he is captivated by a sinful disposition. Having said all this, as it applies to those men Paul was addressing and to people, up to and including today …

2) God requires repentance. He had been patient … and:

Gal 4:4 when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

When God’s time had arrived for Him to send Messiah, it was the time His patience ran out with ignorance about Him. Through Messiah and His death and resurrection God calls all people to respond in a particular manner:

Ac 17:30 but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

Commanded to repent from what? Of that hardened heart, that depraved disposition, that sinful nature, that idolatry. Repentance means to turn and go in the other direction … it’s literally a one hundred and eighty degree turn-about. Sin needs to be dealt with and man can’t do it … but the Godman Jesus Christ has done it and the way to be reconciled with God is through faith in Messiah’s substitutional sacrifice, confessing all known sin, turning in repentance and trusting God for salvation, justification, sanctification and adoption into His family.

3) God’s Day of Judgment. Why does man need to repent and believe in God’s Messiah? Because there is a Judgment Day!

Ac 17:31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice.

The word “justice” refers to the righteousness of God, displayed in Jesus’ earthly life. It is absolute holiness and total purity. His righteousness if God’s yardstick on Judgment Day.

4) God’s appointed Judge. If Jesus is the standard … then only He qualifies as the Judge

Ac 17:31 by the man he has appointed.

There are three things here.

(i) God has set a date. No one but He knows the date, but rest assured He set it and He knows when it shall be. For us, we must accept the fact that this date will arrive.

(ii) The day set is for judgment. As much as man might reject the Day of Judgment, it shall arrive because Jesus promised to return and when He does He shall execute three important and eternal matters. The first is the Judgment of the unrighteous. They shall be found guilty as charged and punished to eternal damnation in hell. That is their wages for refusing Jesus’ Gospel offer. The second is the Judgment of the righteous. They shall be declared guiltless because they are blood covered through faith in Jesus Christ. Their reward shall be the Paradise of God and ushered into the presence of God. Thirdly, He shall bring creation as we know it to an end (See 2 Peter 3).

5) God’s appointed Judge carries Gospel credentials.

Ac 17:31 “He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Jesus lived the perfect life, died as the perfect sacrifice for sin, conquering death by taking back His life, proving that according to the prophecies of Scripture, He is God’s Messiah and qualifies as God appointed Judge when He returns in glory. Tomorrow we shall see how Paul’s audience responded … but permit me to end today saying … friend, if you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior today, please repent, believe and receive Him as your Lord and Savior, because life is far shorter than anyone ever thinks. Your last day, like mine, could be today!

Father God, in grace and mercy send Your Holy Spirit into the lives of those who are thinking, contemplating and considering the claims of Jesus. Work in their hearts and minds and graciously save their souls. Amen.

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