Tom: [In] this segment of our program, which we call Understanding the Scriptures, we are going through the Book of Acts. We are in chapter 2, and Dave, we read three or four verses last week, but we really didn’t have a chance to discuss them. But for someone who’s maybe joined us for the first time, let me go back over the verses we’ll address. Beginning with Acts:2:21: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”
Dave: Well, there’s a lot there, Tom. “…Come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall saved.” I think we dealt with that…
Dave: …last week, in some depth, and it was verses…the next three that we read, but didn’t get to really. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words….” Okay, now, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know….” We commented on that clause last week.
Everybody knew about this. There was no question that Jesus had done signs and wonders. There were probably people in that gathering right then, who had been healed by Christ…
Dave: or who had been fed miraculously by Him [with] a few loaves and fishes to feed 5,000 people. I mean, there were many who had seen Lazarus after he had been raised from the dead. There were some who had been present. They talked to their friends, their neighbors, their relatives. I mean, you couldn’t keep silent about this! This is incredible—what this man is doing! And the Scripture tells us that great crowds followed Him everywhere He went.
So, there’s no question about the miracles. We mentioned last week that Christ didn’t say “Go off to South Africa, or Siberia, you know, get as far away from Jerusalem as you can and begin to preach about my resurrection.” He said, “Begin in Jerusalem,” and so here is Peter, right in the heart, and nobody is saying, “Oh no, this guy was a fraud. He didn’t really do these wonders.”
“No, you know, you know that this is the miracle worker. He healed some of you. He raised the dead! Some of you had relatives who were raised right out of their graves. And, then, what happened? How did you treat Him? You crucified Him! You have taken Him by wicked hands and have crucified and slain [Him].”
Now verse 23 gets it….
Tom: Well, Dave, before you get there—A Roman Catholic priest representing the Vatican had a comment—I think this was a year or two ago…he was a liaison with the Jews in Jerusalem, and he was talking about this verse and others, because it says, “Ye men of Israel…by wicked hands have crucified and slain Jesus Christ.” So, he thought that needed to be expunged from the Bible because it was anti-Semitic.
Dave: Well, the Bible has a lot of things to say about the Jews. For example, what they did in the wilderness; they were always into idolatry….
Tom: But, Dave, is this the New Testament you’re talking about? Or the Old Testament written by the prophets? The Jewish prophets.
Dave: The Jewish prophets, right. The Old Testament itself lays it out—the wickedness of Israel, and how God wept over them, pleaded with them, “Don’t do this abominable thing that I hate.”
They went into idolatry. In fact, God says, “You did even worse than the heathen!” Jeremiah says, “Why the gods of the heathen, they’re not even gods! They’re clay and wood and stone. But they remain loyal to them. They never change their gods. But you have changed from the true God, who led your ancestors through the Red Sea, you know, manna every day, miracles, and you have turned from the true God to false gods. You have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters and you’ve dug up cisterns, broken cisterns that can’t hold water.” Okay?
Now, this is simply a fact. We don’t take it out of the Bible. Peter is saying it. Peter was there! He’s saying it to the Jews who know it’s true. And he says, “You have taken him by wicked hands and you’ve crucified and slain the Lord of Glory,” all right? But, now, there’s something else in verse 23 we need to deal with. “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God….”
Now, the Calvinists make a lot out of that. You see, it’s all predestined. It’s all pre-planned, and it’s going to turn out the way God wants it to turn out. Well, it’s going to turn out the way God wants it to turn out, but God did not cause these people to be wicked. He didn’t cause them to crucify the Son of God. Well, then, what is this about “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”? Well, now, we got that word “foreknowledge.”
Dave: You don’t need to have foreknowledge if it’s just [that] God is causing it to happen. Foreknowledge about what? He knew the hearts of these people. He knew Pilate…what kind of a man Pilate was. He knew who these rabbis were, and He knew their hearts. I suppose they could have been born in any time of history, or any place, somewhere else.
So, that is what God, in fact, did. Foreknowing whom He wanted on that scene, to do what He had determined would be done; that the prophets foretold the crucifixion, and so forth. I mean, Christ was born at the time when crucifixion was being practiced. He wasn’t born at a time when something other than crucifixion was being practiced. Now, this is the death that He was going die as the Lamb of God. His blood would be poured out.
So, “the determinate counsel”? Yes. The prophets foretold the crucifixion, the rejection by Israel. But, He’s born at a time that God knows when it will be and He knows who will be there, in His foreknowledge—what kind of people they are, and…another interesting thing here, Tom. We’ve commented on it before.
Satan is confused, you know? Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2, if the princes of this world had known, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord. If they had known that this is the way man would be saved, the princes—being the prince of the power of the air—I would say the minions of Satan who are really running this world and who are behind it, they wouldn’t have done this.
You see the confusion in Matthew 16. Satan influences Peter to say, “Oh, you’re not going to go to the cross.” Now, he influences Him not to go to the cross. Then, later on, he enters into Judas to cause Christ to go to the cross. So, I don’t think Satan knew what was going on. But, God knew, and by His foreknowledge, He caused this to happen exactly as He had planned.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, one little aside. We’ve just got about a minute, or so.
Dave: Let me just finish one other thing, quickly.
Dave: It’s very much like you have of Pharaoh in Romans 9. God didn’t cause Pharaoh to be the mean, wicked tyrant that he was. But, He knew that this was the man that He wanted to have in power at that time to do what He was going to do to the children of Israel in not allowing them to leave until God had executed all of His judgment upon the gods of Egypt.
Tom: Dave, it seems to me, that the Calvinist view that God had to determine these things, it’s almost a man’s trying to get a handle on exactly how God works. You see, but if we’re talking about God’s determinate—it tells me that I don’t understand. It’s reasonable; it’s logical, it’s rational—this is the way—God works this way, but I can’t fathom it and to think that He only has to work a certain way is to put God down to man’s finite way of looking at things as opposed to God working outside of time, knowing every variable, being able to move people without affecting their free will.
Tom: I mean, that’s a God that’s just completely amazing.
Dave: Tom, I’ve often mentioned it. I see it on airplanes. My plane breaks down and I’ve got to get on another plane. I’m sitting in a seat I shouldn’t be in. Somebody else is sitting in a seat they shouldn’t be in—and these—this is the person that God wants me to be with. How does He do it? I don’t know. But I know, as you said, He’s not violating anyone’s free will.
But somehow, He can cause it to happen, and that was what happened at the cross.