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Good Friday, April 10, 2009
Acts 2:14-24 (ESV)
The Definite Plan and Foreknowledge of God
But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.  For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.  But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
 ” ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know-  this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
a. This morning, as we commemorate the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, I want to have a look at just one phrase form this sermon delivered by Pater on the day of Pentecost regarding the death of Christ. On Sunday we will, Lord willing, have a look at the comment he made immediately after he referred to the death of Christ, about the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
b. The truth that Peter made about the death of Christ – “… this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
c. The truth that Peter made about the resurrection of Jesus Christ – “God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.”
Today – The Death of Jesus Christ – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
2. What did this statement mean to those Peter was speaking to? We always need to consider what a text of Scripture meant to the original recipients of the letter or psalm or account. It helps us to understand what it means to us.
a. Verse 23 starts with the two words “this Jesus” – What Jesus? Go back to verse 22 – Jesus of Nazareth. THIS Jesus – Jesus of Nazareth. Why refer to Him as Jesus of Nazareth? We get a clue in
John 1:45-46 (ESV) – Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Then see Matthew 2:23 (ESV)
And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
b. The problem with Matthew 2:23 is that nowhere in the Scriptures do we find a prophecy that says what Matthew says the prophets said. Note that Matthew says “prophets” [plural]… and that means he is not quoting one prophet – he is telling us that the prophets said the Messiah would be – not only Nazareth so much as that He would be considered as a resident of Nazareth -“The dwellers …[of Nazareth] were rude, violent, and of evil repute.” [Broadus]. “The Messiah cannot come from Nazareth. Nothing good comes from Nazareth. Nazareth isn’t even mentioned in our Scriptures” But being a Nazarene is – Isaiah 53, Psalm 22:6 … .
c. And this is Peter’s point here – The one these people were so willing to put to death, they were willing to do it because He was a Nazarene – and the word would be hissed through their teeth. And this is what He is emphasizing in the beginning of verse 23 “…THIS Jesus”. Jesus of Nazareth … this Jesus – the One you despised. The One you derided as a liar, a false prophet. The One you were prejudiced against because of his place of upbringing.
d. This Jesus, whom you eagerly put to death because you were sure that He could not be a voice of God; because He did not fit into your perceptions of what a Messiah must look like; because He came from Nazareth … THIS JESUS .. Was not in your hands to do with as you see fit. This Jesus was not a helpless victim overcome by unforeseen opposition. This Jesus was not caught by surprise by the political manoeuverings of Pontius Pilate and Herod and the religious leaders; This Jesus was not some poor pitiful mistaken power hungry megalomaniac who couldn’t get enough support to raise up the army He needed. No, no. Do not mistake who we are talking about. This Jesus is the One who came as a result of the plan to save mankind that He and His Father and the Hoy Spirit put together before the foundations of the world were formed. This Jesus is the One who demonstrated Himself through His teachings and miracles that He was no mere human. This Jesus is the One who intentionally came into Jerusalem on Sunday forty five days ago to die according to that plan. This Jesus is the One who set His eyes like flint toward Jerusalem and could not have been stopped from entering the city when His time had come. This Jesus is the One who fulfilled a plan of God to save you. This Jesus is the One who no one could take His life from but who gave it up voluntarily because of His love for His Father and His love for His people.
e. Everything about Jesus is wrong to the world. He is born wrong – out of wedlock. He is born in the wrong place. He is born to the wrong people. He is born in the wrong circumstances. He is raised in the wrong town. Nothing about Jesus is right.
i. It is not the main point about Jesus but it needs to be said – THIS Jesus became like one of US. Not just that He was human. Not just that He is offered to all the peoples of the world; all classes of people, all colours, both genders, … Everybody is invited to come. But dear ones can we who are nothing in the eyes of the world rejoice that Jesus came like US – no money, no power (as people count power), no influence.
3. Except for this – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. Now dear ones, I want to tell you why this should make us rejoice.
a. Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is not plan “B”
i. We are not to think that what is happening to Jesus is a tragedy, an oversight … It is precisely what is meant to happen, what is intended by God to happen … . Luke 9:51 – why set His face to go to Jerusalem?… See Rev.13:8, Ephesians 1:3-4,
ii. Salvation through the death of Jesus Christ was forged in heaven according to the eternal counsel of the sovereign God who does whatsoever pleases Him and it pleases Him to redeem people from every tribe and people and tongue and nation…
b. Sin is a very great problem
i. How big is the problem that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit plan together that the Son must come to earth to die for sinners?
You are the result of a plan to save you
i. You are not saved because you decided to come to Christ – at least not first. No. You are saved because He decided to come to you. You are saved because God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit conspired in a Trinitarian counsel before the world was made to save you.
ii. People look at the cross and say “Why would God allow this to happen?” Allow it? ALLOW IT??!! He planned it. The cross is His idea. The cross and suffering and rejection and inhumanity of Jesus Christ is what the F, S, and HS, agreed to do to rescue humanity from what the devil did when he convinced Adam and Eve to eat the fruit.
iii. Dear Christian!! Look at your salvation. Look at the circumstances that brought you to Christ. Why were you born in that Christian home? Why did that person witness to you? Why did the cross lose its offence to you? Why did you come? Because in the determinate counsel of God Jesus plotted to come and die so that you could know the forgiveness of sins.
iv. Dear ones – stand before this little phrase uttered by Peter here and marvel. And rejoice. And bow down to the Gos who planned it all out perfectly.
v. Do you not know Christ? Do you want to know that you are the product of a plan hatched in heaven for the Son of God to come to earth to die for you and take your punishment and be rejected buy God – for you? Do you want to know that the benefits of Jesus death on the cross are yours and you will be seen by God as sinlessly perfect as Jesus is? You can. It is a glorious truth – to be able to read Acts 2:23 and say, that plan was made for me and because it is an eternal plan it cannot fail. Every believer you know can say that. And I tell you – it si a glorious thing to be able to say – and it can be yours to say. He bids you come to know the forgiveness of your sins and the joys of life with Him.
vi. This plan cannot be improved upon. No one is going to come up with anything better than what God Himself devised in a Trinitarian counsel before the world began.
(1) Christian – look at the cross and rejoice that God has done a very great thing.
(2) Non- Christian – look at the cross and know that this is the only thing that even God could come up with to save you – and no matter what you think about a better way to do it – there is no better way.
d. Salvation is going to happen
i. That which is the definite plan and foreknowledge of God is not going to produce nothing. It will not be fruitless. There will be a vast numberless host of people from all corners of the world, from all time periods of history – because a great triune God planned to do it and this God cannot fail. And He will not fail.
(1) There will be no salvation at all if the Son of God does not suffer and die at the Hands of wicked men. But when you consider that this death was planned by God Himself with the intent of saving those whom He foreknew we can be very confident that God is going to save people.
(2) Now then dear one – do you want to be numbered with those who have this true of them? D=In a world and time when there is hardly anything that is certain – not your job, your health, your safety … . Do you want to know that the most important thing of all is SURE? Come to Jesus Christ and know that this plan, concocted in heaven by God – includes you.
ii. This is clearly taught throughout the Scriptures – Isaiah 53:11, Mt. 1:21. Find the language of vague possibility in the Bible when it talks about what God is going to accomplish – see Ezekiel 36:22ff
Ezekiel 36:22-28 (ESV)
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came.  And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.  I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
iii. The predetermined counsel of God was accomplished in order to do something. And the thing it was designed to do was save people.
Ah – Good Friday. It really is good. God’s plan to save is coming to pass. The devil is being thrown down and he is falling from heaven. Jesus is winning people to Himself. He is bearing sin. Wicked and lawless men are killing Him and while they are – God is accomplishing His purposes through the very act of wickedness – What a God!!
The cross of Christ dear ones. The cross of Christ. A plan hatched in heaven by a triune God. It cannot fail. It will bear fruit. It is for you. Come and know the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ who came and accomplished it all on the cross and cried out “IT IS FINISHED”.