A few weeks ago, as I was reading the book of Acts of the Apostles, my attention was captivated by verses 30 and 31 of Chapter 17 which say: “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.” Then, I understood how Paul preached. He had spoken to the Athenians about the Creator God, nicely and without offending them for their idolatry, about God whom they revered without knowing Him, who was the source of all that they had and enjoyed, and he explained to them why:
1. God wanted and wants always that all men repent;
2. Repentance is the necessary preparation to appear before God, the Supreme Judge, who will judge the world according to justice; and that
3. This judgment will be made only by Jesus Christ whom God has raised from the dead.
Then, I said to myself: This is the way I must announce the Gospel to unbelievers either by my testimony or by my preaching. Not my own reflections or philosophical arguments etc., but to draw their attention to certain cardinal points such as the fact that they will sooner or later have to give account before the judgement seat of Jesus Christ that God has determined as their judge. They will be judged of what they did in life and in order to present themselves as they ought, it is necessary to prepare themselves by repentance. It is also necessary to explain to them who Jesus Christ is; the Man that God had established as Supreme Judge. His resurrection from the dead has been the proof. His resurrection constitutes the basis of Christian faith. It was then that the following question came to my mind: Is this not the same principle which is valid even for true believers? True! For unbelievers, to avoid eternal judgment; for believers, true Christians, who are in Jesus Christ and who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Rom.8: 1, 4) in order not to lose the reward for their behaviour, that is according to the way they have led their life and laboured for Christ, since for them there is no condemnation! I do say, true Christians, because there are also false Christians or just professing Christians.
As I was continuing my reading, I noted that Paul “…vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.” (Ac.18:28). Paul, at that time, was proving that Jesus is the Christ. Nowadays, in our supposedly Christian countries, all or almost all are regarded as Christians, because they do not question that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, but their spirit and their life have nothing to do with the requirements of the Gospel of God. That means that it is necessary:
1. To speak always and with all about repentance. This statement is corroborated by a lot of verses. It is not necessary to mention them all. Let me, however, mention just a few:
· “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt.3:2; 4:17);
· “but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Lu.13:5);
· “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” (Ac.3:19);
· “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ac.20:21); and
· Paul defending himself before king Agrippa told him, among other things: “that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Ac.26:20);
2. To speak about the need for preparing ourselves and for being constantly prepared by repentance when they will meet God (Amos 4:12) and to give account. The Bible speaks repeatedly that each of us shall give an account of himself to God (Ro.14:12; Mt.18:23; Lu.16:2, etc.). Yes, believers and unbelievers will have to give a solemn account of themselves, of what they have done in life, whether good or bad, whether secretly or openly! Give an account, even for an idle word (Mt.12:36)! Everything that we have thought, said and done will be examined and man will have to give account for everything; and
3. To speak about the resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of all men: “… those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:29).
Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are not a theory but historic facts. His death and resurrection are the central points of the Gospel and are emphasized in the Epistles of the Apostles: “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Act.4:33) His miraculous birth and His resurrection are, consequently, the two pillars of our Christian faith.
These thoughts, having influenced deeply my spirit pushed me to apply them when an old woman asked me certain questions. At the beginning, she had put her questions rather by curiosity but after a few seconds she became serious and left solicitous. May the Lord speak to her heart!