“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31 NKJV
What exactly does the word “ignorant” mean to you? I confess there are times when I am surprised by some of the words I read in the scriptures simply because it is obvious to me that God is more than willing to “call it like He sees it”. I am sure most of us would agree that the word ignorant is not to be considered a compliment, so when I first read this passage I was more than a little curious to see exactly why it was being used, and the context in which it occurred. I would also have to confess my curiosity was more than likely aroused because of the fact that many would look around and feel these words were written about the world we live in today.
This passage describes the apostle Paul speaking in the city of Athens to the philosophers of the day at the Areopagus on Mars Hill. He is commenting on the inscription on one of their altars dedicated to “the unknown God”. The Greek word used here for ignorance is agnoia which means a lack of knowledge, or a moral blindness, especially as it relates to the divine. Paul takes this opportunity to explain to them that the times of ignorance are now over because God has revealed Himself to man in the person of Jesus Christ. Because of this, mankind is now placed in the position of either choosing to repent of their sin and accept the salvation offered by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or rejecting the gift of eternal life in heaven with the Father.
Paul goes on to say that although the choice is ours to make, He has already fixed a day in which He will judge the world according to its choice, and we can be sure of that because God showed us His power by raising Jesus from the dead. Because of this revelation through the person of God’s Son, the times of ignorance are over and should the world choose to reject what God has revealed it could accurately be said that it is not from ignorance, but from arrogance. Why arrogance? If you take the time to think about those you might have considered to be arrogant in the past, what would be the one trait you would think they all have in common?
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” Acts 17:32 NKJV
Did you notice that the reaction of those who chose not to believe was not simply a rejection but an attitude of mocking? Arrogant people are people who choose not only to reject what you have to say, but mock your choice as if you are a fool for believing. Yet God has made it clear who the fools really are, and He has also made it clear what their destiny is, and what the future holds for them.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, Romans 1:18-22 NKJV
Throughout the Bible, there are many words used to describe those who refuse to accept the wisdom of the revealed Word of God. Just to name a few, badness, stupidity, emptiness, thick headedness, insipid, senselessness, and heedlessness. Just as these words used define a common rejection of God’s wisdom, they also are used to describe a common rejection or disregard for spiritual and moral values. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that this is what we see in those who choose to reject God’s revelation, and it is these behaviors we must seek to avoid if we have truly “learned Christ”.
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: Ephesians 4:17-21 NKJV
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 1Peter 2:15-16 NKJV
Paul makes it clear what the destiny of those who choose the arrogance of rejection of God’s revelation perfectly clear. Yet he also makes it clear what the reward for our acceptance of His sacrifice on our behalf is as well. While the world will be judged for their rejection, we will be elsewhere rejoicing in our salvation.
“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Phil 3:19-20
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 5:8-9 NKJV
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 NKJV
Every day we can look at the world in which we now live and see the arrogance of those who have chosen to reject God's message to mankind. If you have chosen to believe that you are a sinner, and have accepted the gift of salvation offered by God through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, you can rest easy with the knowledge that you will not face the judgment which is to come for those who have chosen to reject God’s revelation. If you haven’t yet made that choice, I encourage you to do it today. You can do that by simply praying this prayer and accepting the gift of eternal life God has offered all of us by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life to you. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen.