God’s Word for You
Acts 2:22-24 the plan God decided on and foreknew
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 29, 2019
22 “O Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did through him among you, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by the plan God decided on and foreknew, and with the help of lawless men you put him to death by crucifying him. 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 has explained the phenomenon everyone was witnessing by sight and by sound, and now he moves directly from “what” to “why.” The message is all about Jesus.
The miracles of Jesus were well known, and the Jews admitted that they had all taken place. In fact, the miracles were so impossible to deny that the Jews tried to argue that Jesus was in league with the devil, and that his miracles, therefore, could not possibly be from God or good in any way: “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons” (Matthew 9:34, 12:24). Jesus had answered this challenge by asking: “If I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:27-28).
Peter draws the correct conclusion: God did the miracles among you through Jesus. Therefore, it was God’s own Son, Jesus, who was handed over. But listen carefully to what Peter says: “This man was handed over to you.” Who handed Jesus over to the Jews? God did. He did not do this from a wicked motive, but from the best motive, like a worshiper bringing a lamb to be sacrificed, to atone for sin. It was God’s plan all along, according to his foreknowledge of what would take place.
This will naturally lead some to wonder about God’s plan and foreknowledge. Let’s look at what the Scriptures say about this interesting subject:
- God’s knowledge is omniscience itself. “Lord, you know all things” (John 21:17; cp. 1 John 3:20). The Lord knows the future (Isaiah 41:21-23).
- This knowledge of God is infallible, and it includes all things. If someone were to argue against this, they would end up abolishing the true concept of God. They would accuse the Lord God of imperfection or of weakness. “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you” (Numbers 11:23).
- God’s foreknowledge of things is not the cause of things. When the weather man announces the path of a storm, he is not the cause of that storm. When a mother foresees that her toddler will take two or three steps and then fall, she is not to blame when he falls. The weatherman and the mother know those things through their past experience; God knows all things because he exists outside of time, and sees them laterally rather than through the veil of the future. When God says that he wishes the Laodiceans were either hot or cold (Revelation 3:15), he is not to blame for what they have become. He is fully justified in his threat that he is about to spit them from his mouth (Revelation 3:16).
- Everything happens as God foreknew it would (Romans 8:29). “God still knows who of those who are called will believe and who will not,” Formula of Concord Th. D. XI,54).
- We must not trouble ourselves about what God foreknew about us and others, because these things have not been revealed to us. “God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:32-33). “Because God has revealed this mystery to his own wisdom and not revealed anything concerning it in the Word, still less has [he] commanded us to explore it through our speculations but has earnestly warned against it” (FOC Th. D. XI,55).
- We must use the means of Grace as God has given them to us and directed us to use them: Baptism for the creation of faith, Communion for the strengthening of faith, the Gospel for both, and all of these for the forgiveness of sins. “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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39). “Therefore we are not, on the basis of our speculations, to make our own deductions, draw conclusions, or brood over it, but cling solely to his revealed Word, to which he directs us” (FOC Th. D. XI,55).
I have spent too much time on this point for many readers, but I hope I have been clear enough for those who would want to search more deeply. Peter continues his history of salvation with the crucifixion, also according to God’s plan, as well as the resurrection. Because Christ has been freed from death, he shows his power over death, and the power to raise each of us from the dead as well. We take comfort that this was always his plan, and that we have always been in his heart. What God has done, he has done for our sakes, so that we would come to faith in him, trust in him, and be rescued by him. He is our gracious and loving Father, now and forever.
Pastor Timothy Smith