|And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;|
A dear brother asked about Acts 17:30 "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent..."
Here is a reply (January 3, 2012 10:26:25 PM GMT+08:00).
Good question, Brother! Thanks for asking!
Verse 30 is found in the paragraph that runs from 17:22-31.
22 ¶ 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.
23 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.
24 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;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 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;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 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.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 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.
'All men every where' need to be rightly divided... to mean all men distributively, and not all men exhaustively without exception. 'All men every where' means people of every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe, beside the Jews.
There are God's people in every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe... all such are commanded to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ through the gospel ministry. God has overlooked the period of ignorance when God dealt primarily with the Jews under the old covenant. In the new covenant, God has begun to deal with His people of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and tribes, as well as the Jews. It is no longer restricted to His people among the Jews. The gospel ministry is to be universal. The old covenant (represented by the earthly theocratic Israel) has passed away; the new covenant (represented by the kingdom of heaven) has been ushered in by Christ.
God's people alone are under duty to repent and believe the truth of their redemption in Christ Jesus (verse 30 is followed by verse 31, the subject of which is Jesus Christ). Only the elect, the redeemed are under the just duty and obligation to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, because the gospel pf God is the truth concerning them.
It would be a serious attack upon God's character if one insists that God commands those for whom He did not send Jesus to redeem to believe that Jesus is their Redeemer ! Such a God would be completely irrational, and acting contrary to His own will. God cannot command the non elect to believe on Jesus Christ because that will amount to God requiring them to believe a lie. That would be blasphemous! But people always retort and say, "but we don't know who are the elect and who are not the elect... therefore the call to repent and believe is applicable to all men without distinction."
It is true that no one can distinguish the elect from the non-elect. But that knowledge it NOT necessary for us to know in order to declare that the gospel call to repent and believe the Lord Jesus Christ is relevant only to God's children, and none others. This belief is BASED on divine revelation: God chose to save a people through His Son Jesus Christ, Christ saved the same on the cross, and the Holy Spirit regenerates each one of the same group at God's appointed time. The gospel preachers are sent out to gather them out of the world into the NT churches.
Rightly dividing the word of truth requires that the same people and none others are commanded by God to believe the Lord Jesus Christ... because Jesus Christ has died for them, and them alone, and none others... and such are called to believe the gospel of their salvation!
In the old covenant, God also has His people in every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe, in addition to the Jews. But God's dealing was restricted to mainly His people among the Jews... so the unbelief of His people (because of ignorance - no prophetic ministry to them) in every other nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe, were overlooked, i.e. winked at. But now the gospel ministry has come to them... and that great privilege is accompanied with a solemn responsibility. Not believing will incur God the FATHER'S displeasure, and God's children will suffer temporal judgment.
I hope this helps.
On Jan 4, 2012, at 12:22 AM...
What about Paul's preaching to Agrippa & Felix in Acts 26 and Acts 24:24-25? Because of these passages, some conclude that we must present the gospel and persuade them to repent. Agrippa says, "Almost thou persuadest me..." and Paul says, "I would to God...thou... all . Shouldest we also persuade men in general? Or the 2 passages refer only to special circumstances, but why did Paul say "I would..all that hear me ... such as I. Acts 26:29"
The gospel must indeed be addressed to the hearers indiscriminately at every opportunity... because God's children are found everywhere.
The public proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the nature of the case, has to address the audience and exhort the hearers to repent and believe the Lord Jesus Christ. The public proclamation of the gospel can't be done any other way... because the preacher DOES NOT know who are God's children and who are not in the audience. However, even though the preacher addresses the audience indiscriminately, he is consciously aware, being informed by the revealed Scriptures, that the gospel ministry is relevant to those who are saved... to all others, the gospel is foolishness. Though addressed to the audience indiscriminately, the gospel is only relevant to those whom God has regenerated.
The gospel ministry is not the instrument to offer eternal salvation; it is the proclamation of the truth of eternal salvation that has already taken place by the free grace of God... that is, something already true of those already regenerated. Such need to be brought to a knowledge of their salvation by God's free grace.
22 ¶ And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter. 23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him. 24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
The first part speak of Felix's role as a judge... dealing with the case of the Jews accusing Paul of desecrating the temple.
The latter part speaks of Felix personally sending for Paul, to hear him concerning the faith in Christ. That indicates that Felix was a child of God. However, he finds the cost of discipleship costly... just like the rich young ruler responded. In Felix case, the trappings of office hinder him from conversion. Mt 19: 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Acts 26:29 "And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds."
From Apostle Paul's word, and King Agrippa's own confession, we see that Agrippa was a child of God but remained unconverted. Apostle Paul said, "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest." King Agrippa confessed, "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." The gospel ministry is an instrument for converting God's children to become Christians.
I hope this helps to clear any possible confusion.