Summary: In the past God overlooked religious ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

Dakota Community Church

September 18, 2011


Acts 17:22-31

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 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. Proclaiming the end of ignorance

The times of ignorance are over and from now on Jesus Christ is the necessary object of all saving faith.

a. An end to ignorance for the people of God

Before the coming of Christ people were saved by trusting in the mercy of God looking ahead to the promised messiah.

The Israelites heard of and at times witnessed God’s supernatural deeds.

They practiced the temple rituals and most of the time made the prescribed sacrifices in ignorance of their ultimate meaning.

They tried from time to time to obey the law and hoped for a coming deliverer who would restore their nation to its former glory.

They knew almost nothing of God’s plan to save them from their sins.

They knew almost nothing of Jesus the suffering servant redeemer.

They could not have conceived of a plan of God that included salvation for all men including Samaritans and Gentiles though it had been foretold.

Genesis 18:18

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.

Isaiah 49:6

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

God did distinguish the Israelites by setting them apart as his own nation, yet his reason for doing so was not to play favorites, but to benefit everyone.

The Israelites were intended to be an example to others, so that everyone would hear about God and come to Him.

God performed miracles in Egypt for this very reason

Exodus 9:16-18

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.

b. An end to ignorance for the heathen world

Acts 17:29

…we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance…

In the past as God was patiently working out His purposes with and through Israel – the heathen nations were left alone for the most part.

They would still be held accountable to God – Amos makes that clear – but there is no steady stream of missionary and evangelistic work going on.

The gospel proclaims an end to that foolishness.

Acts 4:6-12

Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

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