Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:29-31 (ESV)
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but no he commands al people everywhere to repent.” This is a verse that makes me pause more than once. I’m not a universalist, I don’t believe all will be saved. I do however believe God would have all people saved, and wants them all to be saved. Neither do I believe ignorance saves. Whatever the nature of God overlooking, and this could be nothing more than that in order to implement his plan of salvation, he overlooked all of those who would not be born into Abraham’s house and thus lost.
In any case though, Paul now turns to the people before him, God has a message for them, Repent. God wants them to be saved. Repentance is now needed before the day comes when he will judge the world through Jesus Christ, the man whom he has appointed. This of course is where the cross comes in.
Jesus who died for the world is the judge who comes to judge the world. It was on the cross that he was appointed for this task. The day has been fixed, It is coming and will come eventually. We don’t know when it is, but the world will not continue as it is, and our only hope is repentance, which is the flip side of faith. It is to despair of your own efforts at righteousness, your own effort at being God, and to believe in Jesus, to trust in his grace and forgiveness, to throw yourself at the mercy of the judge. In the meantime every day we have in this world is a day of grace through which God calls all men everywhere to repent and be saved.