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.” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV)
Paul stood before the intellectually curious crowd at the Areopagus after being asked about this new teaching. He proclaimed Christ to that crowd. His approach was to point out the greatness of God and show how all people were his offspring. That God had a plan for all creation and was sovereignly controlling every aspect of life to the point that we depended on him for life itself. The account of his sermon ends with the statement that we have assurance of the coming judgment because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now this might sound like a very negative view of the resurrection, and no, I am not trying to kill the Easter Bunny. However, if we meditate on this passage, I am positive that God’s love will be evident to those who know him.
This point of Christ’s resurrection is one that seldom gets much face-time on Easter morning. Judgement is never a pleasant topic because you know that some people are not going to end well. The point is that we are all accountable at some point for all that we have done whether it is good or bad. Praise God that the judgment the world will face will be a righteous judgment. Wait, none can stand before God in and of themselves and face a righteous judgment and not be found guilty. Paul knew that. The assurance to all that he speaks of is meant to unsettle the unbelieving heart and make them consider themselves.
Assurance to all though includes those who believe as well as those who have yet to believe. For that reason we see that God demonstrated his grace by overlooking and commanding that men repent. That repentance then is something that is effective at producing a state where a person can stand before a righteous judge and be found not guilty. The point is that God has chosen to bring us together with himself through Christ by demonstrating his love, effectively defeating sin and death on the cross. Moreover, God has given us hope in eternal life through the resurrection of a righteous judge who will one day come again and judge the world. This hope is for those who believe. We have assurance of that hope because of the resurrection.