“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
In his travels, Paul found himself in Athens. There he observed many examples of idolatry, even a statue to The Unknown God, whom they ignorantly worshiped, just to make sure all of the bases were covered. So, Paul took the opportunity to preach to them about this unknown God. The verses above are part of his message that day. Paul pointed out that God is a living God, not a piece of metal or stone. And, as he told them in verse 30, God had overlooked their ignorance. But now things were different. Had God changed?
Of course not, God is unchanging. But something new had come to pass in God’s dealings with mankind. Though He had previously winked at their ignorance (How gracious of Him to do so!), He now commanded all people everywhere to repent of their idolatry. Idolatry puts that which is not God in God’s place. This is what the Athenians and all of mankind were doing, and are doing to this day.
Paul told them that the reason for God’s command to repent is He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness. This is an important event that still hangs over the heads of mankind. The day is certainly coming on which the LORD will judge. It’s seeming delay is not an indication of Him changing His mind, or an inability to make it happen. The world does not believe it. But that day is surely coming. And, He will judge the world in righteousness. His definition of what is righteous is what counts. And, as Romans 3:10, 11 puts it, “…There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
According to Paul, this coming day of judgment will be by that man whom God had ordained. Though not specifically identified prior to this, Paul mentions that the ordained man was raised from the dead. This, of course, is none other than the LORD Jesus Christ! He will come as the judge. The vision of His coming is recorded in Revelation 19:11, 12, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.” This is the one that God has ordained to be judge, Who will judge in righteousness.
He is the one that mankind spit upon and hung on a cross. He is the one that was mocked and ridiculed. This is the one that will come to judge. We are told in Revelation 6:15-17, “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
God’s judgment day will be a terrible one. The book of the Revelation speaks of it. Paul told his Athenian audience something great in his message. That is, God hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised Jesus from the dead. With the backdrop of judgment just considered, it is apparent that mankind needs assurance in that day. If none are righteous, as Paul told the Romans, then how can anyone stand in that great day? As described in Revelation 6, they will call on the mountains to fall on them. And that will be a futile exercise. Nobody will avoid that day.
But God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus when He hung on the cross. His death was a substitute for mankind, making it possible for everyone to be reconciled to God. God raised Him from the dead. So, assurance in the day of judgment is possible. But this is not a blanket salvation. Many refuse this incredibly gracious gift of God, choosing to bring their own righteousness to God to appease His wrath against their sin and gain heaven. While God’s assurance through Jesus Christ is available to all, in this way many reject it. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and so they are under God’s wrath. John 3:36 tells us, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
In Isaiah 32:17 we read, “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” The sacrifice of the LORD Jesus Christ was a work of righteousness. For those who take His sacrifice as being for them, and are reconciled to God, there is peace with God, quietness, and assurance for ever.
Blessèd assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
Refrain (Fanny Crosby)