Summary: This morning I want to focus on the Grace of God as our Savior who offers us the gift of repentance. And what a glorious gift repentance is for without it we are destined for destruction.
Seeing the Grace of God in Repentance (Acts 17:30-34)
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this." So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them…Acts 17:30-34.”
In verses 22-34 of Acts 17 we see the Greatness of God as our Creator (v. 22-24), the Goodness of God as our Provider (v. 25), the Government of God as our Ruler (v. 26-29) and the Grace of God as our Savior (v. 30-34). This morning I want to focus on the Grace of God as our Savior who offers us the gift of repentance. And what a glorious gift repentance is for without it we are destined for destruction. If it were not for the Lord’s mercies we would all be consumed – and the very words of Jesus Christ confirm this truth: “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Repentance means a change of mind or attitude about something. Literally, it means to turn – you are looking one way and turn around and look another way. In this passage of Scripture, there are three graces of God we see in repentance.
FIRST, REPENTANCE IS NOT A WORK OF MAN BUT A GRACIOUS GIFT FROM GOD. Repentance involves God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Acts 11:18 shows the role of the Father: “When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." Acts 5:31shows the role of the Son: “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” And Zechariah 12:10 shows the role of The Holy Spirit: “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” Second Timothy 2:24-26 further testifies to repentance as a gift of grace: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
We should praise God this morning for the gift of repentance. We are quick to tell men to repent and we should be but are we as quick to thank God for the gift of repentance. It is the gift of repentance that allows lost men to be saved, carnal Christians to come back into fellowship and disciples to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior? Pastor Rey Stedman once said to his Sunday morning congregation that there are many people here who could stand up and testify, if we gave you opportunity, that you lived for years in the grip of this idolatrous delusion that you were sufficient in yourself until something occurred that put you flat on your back, or broke your heart, or came crashing in as some great disappointment, and made you realize for the first time that you could not live without God. I imagine this is true of many of us this morning as we continue by faith to confess our sins and draw upon this wonderful gift of repentance. Pastor Stedman went all to say: “That is why history exists, that God may reveal himself as the God who draws men, who awakens them, who urges them to find him, to seek him, and who will reward those who diligently seek him.” The promise of Proverbs 8:17 still works today: “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.”
The second grace in repentance is evidenced by THE LORD ALLOWING MAN TO EXIST IN "TIMES OF IGNORANCE." The Bible says the sun shines on the righteous and the unrighteous. Times of ignorance are times in your life, or my life, when we were trying to satisfy ourselves with things that were less than God. “Times of ignorance” mean God is full of grace and mercy because He has made the way through repentance for you to come as an unworthy sinner to Jesus. Aren’t you glad God does not immediately strike us dead when we sin? This does not mean God will not hold you accountable for your sin if you are unrepentant - Paul makes it clear God “will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. But the Lord takes the initiative to draw you to Himself.