Acts 17.16-31 – Repentance and our attitude towards God
Posted: 1 September 2010 in Acts

“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. ….. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him….. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.”

There is but one God. He is the creator of all things, if there is one theme which runs throughout the Bible it is that this God does not give his glory to another, and he commands all men everywhere to repent.

And yet it is a command we are completely unable to obey. Sold under sin (Romans 7.14) we stand condemned before this holy God. Our only chance of salvation is if the Holy Spirit works in our hearts in such a way as to bring about a receptivity to the message of Jesus. And in some hearts he does work to bring about repentance – but not all. Why not? The Bible is silent on that subject. Perhaps with the intention that we should tremble before this fearful and ineffable God of ours.

How many of today’s Christians are possessed of the same feeling of dread experienced by Moses at Mount Sinai, or the dread the ancient Israelites experienced more generally, when they considered it not possible that any mortal man should see God and live?

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