2016-08-07 God’s Eternal Plan

ACTS 2:14-41                                                                                            AUGUST 7, 2016


Over the years I have met many people who state that they believe in long range planning. What I find interesting is in how the individual defines “long range”. Some people I know are able to plan out different aspects of their life for several years. For example, it has become popular to create a bucket list of things that one wants to do. My sister and brother-in-law enjoy planning out their future travel plans. There are others who would define “long range” as what they will be doing tomorrow. They are the ones who never plan ahead and shop on Christmas Eve.

However, God is working out his eternal long range plan. Peter spoke of this plan in his sermon to the people on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:23 (ESV) this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” God has his plan that is continuing to unfold which he planned before the creation of our world. We, the true church, are a part of that plan. Ephesians 1:11 (NIV) 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,.” God’s plan is truly a long range plan!

Let’s set the background of Peter’s sermon. It was Pentecost and the promised Holy Spirit has fallen upon the member of the church and they began speaking in many different languages (tongues) of the people who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish festival of the harvest. Acts 2:13 (NIV) 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

Peter used this false accusation to start out his sermon to the people. Remember it was Peter who had been so ashamed of even knowing Jesus, that he had denied knowing him. Yet he is now the one who got up before this vast crowd of people to proclaim Jesus. Please notice that the other eleven apostles stood up with him. Acts 2:14-18 (NIV) 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”

The men and women in the crowd were faithful Jews who would have immediately known this passage. Peter tied the prophecy to what these people had just seen and heard. God initiated the “new age” with the sending of the Holy Spirit. The prophecy of Joel has two parts, the first of which they had just now witnessed. The second part of the signs and wonders in “the heavens above” and “signs on the earth below” will be fulfilled in the days immediately preceding the return of Jesus. The promise of Joel has now begun. What is the promise that Joel predicted. Acts 2:21 (NIV) 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

Peter now begins his main message about Jesus. This passage in Luke is a summary of what Peter preached as Peter would have given much more detail in describing the ministry of Jesus. Peter reminds them that Jesus had performed many miracles, which everyone acknowledged. Acts 2:22-24 (NIV) 22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

Peter reminds them that the death of Jesus on the cross was a part of God’s eternal plan. Peter now boldly proclaims that Jesus was resurrected. He quotes from Psalm 16:8-10. Acts 2:25-28 (NIV) 25 David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Peter argues that this passage could not refer to King David as his tomb, with his body, was still to be found in Jerusalem. Then if the passage did not refer to David then the passage must refer to Jesus, who must also be recognized as being the Son of God.

Peter also reminds them that Jesus was a descendant of King David. Acts 2:31-32 (NIV) 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” Peter and the apostles were standing before the crowd so they could see that there were at least twelve witnesses who are testifying that Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven in his glorified state.

Peter is now driving home the message of Jesus. Peter now argues that Jesus ascended into heaven as prophesied by King David in Psalm 110:1. Acts 2:33-35 (NIV) 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘ Peter again points out that the passage in Psalm 110 did not refer to David but to Jesus. God was speaking to Jesus, not to King David.

Peter now brings these scriptures together to reveal the plan of God in the life, the death, the resurrection, and the exaltation of Jesus in heaven. Acts 2:36 (NIV) 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  It is more than likely that many of the same people who had shouted for Jesus to be crucified were now present for Peter’s accusation. You crucified the Son of God, the Messiah! Peter’s sermon was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit opened the hearts of those present. Acts 2:37-41 (NIV) 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of the spiritually dead so that we will understand what Christ offers. The term literally means cut by a knife, to be stabbed. “Repentance is a radical change in a person’s affections, conviction, and the direction of one’s life.” (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary) We are called to change from a self-centered life to one that is Christ-centered. The call to be baptized is to make a public confession of faith indicating our change of heart.

This message of Peter’s is just as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. This message is to be the basis of our own witness to others. May we be faithful witnesses to what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us, in the forgiveness of our sins and the saving of our souls!

Let us pray.