“In past generations He [the living God] allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet He did not leave Himself without witness, for He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16–17).
During those “past generations”, there were many who had a wonderful relationship with God as He revealed Himself to them in various ways. But saving faith and the mercy of God was generally known through sacrifice of animals. They spoke in a prophetic way of what was coming, but could never encompass all Jesus would be.
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, 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” (17:30–31).
“God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” and His grace that gives the understanding of why we need to repent. This was seen on the very first day the Church came into being. The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, He empowered Peter to preach, and then convicted the hearts of those who heard – “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent…!” (2:37-38).
The message could not be clearer. Let’s be sure that we do not leave out this vital first step in the gospel. The gift of salvation by grace through faith becomes all the more wonderful when I realize the righteousness required of God in the death of Jesus was meant for you and me. Otherwise it would require our death. When you preach, when you witness to others, do not leave out the necessity of repentance.