Summary: God has his plan, and man has his. God’s is based on complete knowledge, man’s on guesses and speculation. Guess which one is superior?
Passage: Acts 13:13-41
Intro: I was listening to a message made by Dr. Stephen Hawking concerning the ability of the human race to survive the next 100 years.
1. here is the gist: we need to be very careful we don’t destroy ourselves with nukes before we develop the capacity to leave planet Earth and colonize space.
2. a little radical, but an example of a plan developed by a man.
3. on the other hand, there is the plan of God.
4. and unlike the constantly failing plans of man, God’s plan has marched triumphantly thru the ages toward inevitable victory.
5. here are the apostles Paul and Barnabas, far from home, deserted by John Mark, carrying the message of God’s plan to strangers in modern-day Turkey.
6. this is the first recorded sermon by Paul, (as he is now called)
7. he gives this mostly Jewish congregation a brief history lesson that clearly displays the gracious and powerful plan of God in contrast to the impotent and ultimately destructive resistance of man.
8. you’ll love where it ends up.
I. God’s Plan Typically Works Through Human Obedience.
1. I say “typically” because sometimes God does things without man’s help, like creating the world.
2. let’s scream through Jewish history with Paul, look for the pattern and the person He uses.
3. v17 “chose our fathers”, this was at God’s initiative, and Abraham responded.
PP Genesis 15:6
4. the sons of Abraham ended up in Egypt as slaves, and God not only kept them alive, but they prospered.
5. Then he led them out, using His servant Moses, who did what God commanded.
6. of the millions trekking through the desert, only a handful believed God, and Moses was one of that group.
7. God endured the misbehavior of Israel in part because Moses interceded for them. (background)
8. then God booted the Canaanites and replaced them with Israel, using Joshua and Caleb to do it.
9. these were the same two guys who believed God when Israel had first stood on the border of the PL 40 years earlier.
10. are you seeing the pattern? God uses obedience based on faith. That is what He looks for, what He uses.
11. even for 300 years of sinful resistance, God raised up judges to free Israel from their enemies, people like Samson and Gideon and Ehud, (left-handed) who were people who did what God told them to do.
12. God raised up David to replace the king the people liked (because he was tall) with a man who “did everything I want him to.”
13. God used the prophets and John the Baptist to finally arrive at the pinnacle of faithful obedience: Jesus Christ.
14. and because of His perfect obedience in life and in death, God was able to use His obedience to do what was impossible for man to do.
15. He was able to justify those who believe in Jesus, who believe in God’s plan, and reconcile man to Himself.
16. and the pattern continues, through apostles and missionaries and everyone of us who are called to be witnesses to the life-changing power of God.
II. Man’s Plan Involves Unbelief Manifested by Disobedience.
1. here is the guarantee: where God is at work for man’s benefit, man is at work resisting God.
2. God seeks the free Israel from slavery, Pharoah chases them across the desert.
3. God seeks to give Israel the land of promise, the people whine and refuse
4. the history of Israel is the history of centuries of disobedience broken by decades of obedience, usually brought about by crisis.
5. but the most glaring example of unbelief is in response to God’s greatest work.
6. God sent Jesus to save us, but mankind rejected and condemned him, executed Him, and buried him, and then posted a guard to keep him there.
7. But God raised Him from the dead, and in fact used their disobedience to kill him so that He could be a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
8. notice two things that are patterns in the behavior of man:
9. first, man’s disobedience always involves unbelief. It is the refusal to believe what God says is true.
Il) unbelief that God made the world, that god has standards of behavior, that God will ultimately judge the world, that God sent His Son to die so that our sins could be forgiven.
10. and secondly, those who reject God perish.
11. the word in v41 means “to vanish”
12. Pharoah’s army was destroyed, the people of Canaan were destroyed, the armies resistant to Israel’s kings were destroyed, and those who reject Jesus are, in the end of Revelation, destroyed.
III. Where is the Good News?
1. all this talk of destruction doesn’t sound very positive.