The Lord of the Great and Notable Day – Acts 2:22-24

As most of you are well aware, I am calling this series “A THEOLOGICAL Study of the Book of Acts.”

We’ve looked at the resurrection and then the ascension of Christ;

Two things which are at the very heart of our faith.

We’ve had messages on the Kingdom of God, the Baptism of the Spirit and then on things as practical as drunkenness and alcohol.

We’ve had messages entitled “The Theology of Waiting and “The Theology of the Sermon.”

When we finish this study, in another 3 or 4 years,

I hope that we’ll all, not only be thoroughly familiar with the Book of Acts,

But that we will also be well-grounded in Biblical Theology.

I expect that by that time we will have touched on just about every area of theology available to any student in any seminary in the country.

Some of those upcoming lessons will be elementary, and others will be as deep as the Marianas Trench.

Some of those doctrines will be so well-known to you that you’ll border on being bored,

And others will be so unknown to you that you might think that I’ve lost my mind or my faith.

But hang in there, and search the scriptures to see whether those things are really Biblically so.

This evening we have a kind of blending of all four of those elements that I’ve just mentioned.

As Peter began his notable Pentecostal sermon, he defended his friends by saying that they weren’t drunk.

He said that they were living in the fulfilment of the prophesy of Joel.

Upon them had been poured the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

And to prove his point, Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32 which, almost as an afterthought closes with the words:

“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood,

Before that great and notable day of the Lord come.”

It is Peter’s contention, and one to which we whole-hearted agree, that Jesus Christ is the Lord to Whom Joel referred.

Verses 22-24 give us a quick lesson in Christology – the study of Christ.

Let’s consider Christ through five questions:

Christ was approved by Whom, and delivered by whom,

He was slain by whom, raised by Whom, and received by whom?

First, Christ Jesus was APPROVED by Whom?

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, [was] 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 . . . “

This is a pretty simple point, but it’s a VERY POINTED point.

This is a point to which probably everyone in this room agrees, but, did you feel the jab?

The word “approved” is interesting.

James Strong defines the word two ways:

“To point away from one’s self, to point out, show forth, to expose to view, exhibit.

And to declare, to show, to prove what kind of person anyone is, to prove by arguments, demonstrate.”

So Peter says that God the Father pointed to Jesus and told all the world to take a good long look.

And He did this by, among other things, giving the Saviour authority to work miracles, wonders & signs.

Notice that Peter uses the same words that Joel used in verse 19 – miracles, wonders and signs.

Peter clearly tied Jesus of Nazareth to the Lord who will show wonders in heaven above and in earth beneath during the days of the Tribulation.

Do you remember what Nicodemus said to Jesus when they met in John 3?

“The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: FOR NO MAN CAN DO THESE MIRACLES that thou doest, except God be with him.”

This is the testimony of friend and foe throughout Jesus’ life.

John 5:36 – “I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.”

John 7:31 – “And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?”

John 9:16 – “Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.”

The man born blind said, “Herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.”

John 11:47-48 – “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

I grant you that there have been other great miracle workers in the Word of God, like Elijah and Elisha.

And their power was not self-generated; it was given to them of God.

So it might be argued that Jesus was nothing more than another miracle worker like Elisha.

But if that were the case, and Jesus was lying about himself when he said “I and the Father are one,”

Then without a doubt the Lord would have withdrawn His miraculous power.

When Jesus said he was “the way, truth and the life and that no man cometh unto the Father but by him,”

And when the Father approved of Him through His continued miraculous power,

Then there is proof that what Jesus said was true.

Amen?

Peter’s was a rather simple point,

But the point of the point was honed to a surgical sharpness when he said,

“As ye yourselves also know.”

Ouch, Peter, that must have really hurt some of that great crowd of people.

My second thought in this message is really the fourth:

The Lord Jesus was RAISED by whom?

“Whom God hath raised up.”

As we have already said: the resurrection of Christ was perhaps the greatest miracle ever performed.

If “the wages of sin is eternal death” . . .

And if the Lord Jesus bore the multiplied transgressions of an innumerable company of sinners,

Then, logically speaking, Christ should have never arisen from death.

But He not only bore our sins, he also atoned for our sins.

He arose victorious over the grave, because He had already been victorious over our sin.

In a sense, when the Father SAW the sacrifice that Christ had made,

When the Father RECEIVED the sacrifice that Christ had made.

When the Father ACCEPTED and APPROVED the sacrifice that Christ had made.

He raised His Son from death and set Him upon their throne on high.

As Romans 1 says, Jesus of Nazareth was “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

He was approved of God among them by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in their midst, as the residents of Jerusalem were well aware.

But prior to that, Jesus of Nazareth was DELIVERED by whom?

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

This verse takes us into the deep and mysterious things of God.

It takes us into things denied by billions of people, and even by those who claim to be friends of God.

And for us, who believe the Word, it still poses things that must be accepted in humility and by faith.

By whom was Jesus delivered to die?

Obviously He was betrayed by one of His own disciples: Jesus’ personal Ahithophel.

Judas Iscariot delivered Christ into the wicked hands of ungodly men to be crucified and slain.

Maybe he did it for the money; maybe there were other reasons about which we know nothing.

But “the Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.”

But in addition to this betrayal, the Lord Jesus seemed to walk right into the handcuffs that evening.

He had told His disciples on many occasions that he was going to Jerusalem to die.

He gave himself a sacrifice for sin.

But this was not what Peter was teaching that Pentecostal morning.

The Bible clearly shows that the Son of God was decreed to be the perfect sacrifice for sin, even before creation was commenced.

He was and is “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world” – Revelation 13:8.

And “forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Who verily WAS FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”

Mysteriously, and wonderfully, there was a covenant made between the Father and the Son to redeem a huge company of sinners, who were yet to be born.

That redemption would require the death of the Son of God as a fully vicarious sacrifice on behalf of those undeserving sinners

Jesus was delivered by the DETERMINATE COUNSEL of God, the Father.

The meaning of those wordsDETERMINATE COUNSEL” is quite clear:

God pre-determined and foreordained to deliver up His Son to die.

This sacrifice was pre-figured in the predetermined plan of Abraham to sacrifice his son on Mt. Moriah.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Now, think about one of the most maligned and misunderstood of all Bible words: “foreknowledge.”

The Greek word is “prognosis” and it means to plan ahead or to pre-plan.

And that is exactly the way that the word is used when transliterated into modern English.

When the young lady comes in to the hospital complaining of violent abdominal pain, the doctors, nurses and technicians examine her and give their “DIAGNOSIS”: she has acute appendicitis.

And then the doctor steps forward and makes his “PROGNOSIS”:

He says that he will do surgery to remove the infected tissue.

She will then be given antibiotics to make sure that her infection does not spread.

She will be in the hospital for a day or two, and then she will be released,

But she will have to stay at home for several more days.

Then after a week or so she should be perfectly healthy once again.

For a doctor, aprognosis” is a plan of action to treat a medical problem.

And it is precisely the same thing for God – a pre-determined plan of action.

In this case it was a foreordained plan of action to save a few wretched sinners.

Notice the little conjunction “and” in verse 23:

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel AND foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

That conjunction makes the preceding and following statements equivalent or parallel.

We can leave out one or the other and the sentence still makes perfect sense.

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

Or we might just as easily say, “Him, being delivered BY THE FOREKNOWLEDGE of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

The foreknowledge of God is His pre-determined plan.

There is no difference between what Peter says in this verse and what he says in I Peter 1:20:

Christ “verily was FOREORDAINED before the foundation of the world.”

God had a pre-determined plan to deliver up His Son for our salvation.

And likewise God had a pre-determined plan to save specific sinners through that sacrifice.

In 1 Peter 1:2 this same preacher spoke of Christians who are all,

“Elect according to the FOREKNOWLEDGE of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit,

Unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

The word “foreknowledge” is found only twice in the King James Bible, and they both come from the lips of Peter.

They also mean exactly the same thing in both verses:

God had a pre-determined plan to deliver His Son for the salvation of those specific people Whom He had elected and predetermined to save.

God’s “foreknowledge” is not the same thing as His “foresight” – His “foreseeing something.”

Because of God’s omniscience He foresees everything.

But because of God’s decree He also foreknows and predetermines everything.

God really is God.

So by whom was Jesus delivered? By God the Father.

And by whom was He SLAIN?

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel of God, YE have taken,

And by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

The nails which held Christ Jesus to the cross were driven through His hands and feet by Roman soldiers.

They were ordered to do so by the Roman governor, Pilate,

But it was upon the insistence of the Jewish leadership.

So by whom was Jesus crucified and slain?

By the combined two peoples who make up all the people of the earth: Gentile and Hebrews.

Those who blame the Jews for the death of Christ are hypocrites.

And the Jews who refuse to take the blame for the crucifixion are blind and foolish.

BUT Christ was delivered by the determinate counsel of God into the wicked hands of those wicked men.

It was the foreordained and thoroughly arranged decree of God that Jesus be crucified.

And yet it was the will and the responsibility of the sinners who did it.

We cannot, and must not, lay the charge of sin upon the Lord.

But there was something else:

Christ was crucified for the sins of specific sinners.

And thus there is a sense in which he was crucified by the elect; those people who were eventually saved.

The unbelieving Jew has no part in Christ, and he has no benefit in the death of Christ.

The wicked atheist, Roman Catholic or merely religious Baptisst have no hope in the death of the Lord.

It was for ME He died; it was my sin which was laid upon him.

He went to the cross for ME.

In that way, therefore, I am the one by whom the Saviour was slain – me and all the rest of those who are actually and finally saved.

So Christ was approved by God through a multitude of miracles.

And He was raised by God as well.

He was delivered by God, the Father.

He was slain by wicked sinners like me.

And he has been RECEIVED by tens of thousands of unworthy sinners.

“As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”

As many as receive Him, to them is His blood applied.

As many as receive Him, to them are given new hearts in regeneration.

As many as receive Him, to them is given justification.

Are YOU among those who have received Christ Jesus?

That was ultimately where the message of Peter was going that day 2000 years ago.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”