GOD’S PLAN FOR THIS AGE
Acts 15:14
     The Great Commission was to go and preach the Gospel to everyone, starting with the Jews at Jerusalem. Up until Acts 10, the message of Christ had been preached exclusively to the Jews. In Acts 10 the first Gentile gets saved after the death of Christ. In Acts 11 the first Gentile church is established in Antioch. This is where the name "Christian" originated. The Gospel message continues to spread as Paul and Barnabas are sent out as missionaries.
     In Acts 13:46-47 there is a new direction in God’s program.
     It isn’t long and a controversy breaks out in the Jerusalem Church regarding these Gentiles getting saved. The question was, must Gentiles keep the Law of Moses to be saved? (15:1, 5).  Of course, the answer is no; the Gentiles are saved by FAITH (v. 9, 11); notice the absence of any reference to baptism).
     In Acts 15:14 James sums up God’s program for this age.
     What is a program? It is a plan to reach a desired end. It is like an agenda. What God’s program is NOT: I.   A VISITATION Program— "God at the first did VISIT the Gentiles…"
     A.     God must come to us before we can come to Him.
     B.     God visited Cornelius (Acts 10).
     C.     How does God visit? Through a surrendered saint, His ambassador— "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).
II.   A SEPARATION Program. —"…to TAKE OUT of them a people…"
        Not a program to convert the world. This world is headed for destruction.
        God took Enoch out; Noah out; Abraham out; Israel out; Elijah out; Jesus out
     A.     Not everyone will be saved.
     B.     God is a God of separation (Luke 12:51).
     C.     God wants us to be different / peculiar.
     D.     One day, we will be TAKEN OUT in the rapture (v. 16)!
III.  AN IDENTIFICATION Program— "…for HIS NAME."
     Everything is for HIS NAME (Saved by His name; Preach His name; Pray in His name; Baptize in His name; Do all in His name - Col. 3:17).
     A.     His name becomes our name—Christian
             "ian" = belonging to the family of or country of: Italian; Arabian; Egyptian;
ILLUS.: When we are saved, we are placed in His body. When God the Father sees us, He sees His Son. This is our only hope of entrance into heaven. One occasion when Barb and I visited daughter and son-in-law at Mountain Home Air Force base, we were returning in Aaron’s station wagon from shopping in town. As we approached the gate to the base, Aaron didn’t even have to stop. The guard waved him right in. I asked him why he didn’t have to stop. He pointed to a decal on the windshield of his car. "This decal lets me and my guests onto the base." Because I was with Aaron, who had previous clearance, I could get through the gate with no difficulty.
 This made me think about getting into heaven. On my own, I wouldn't stand a chance. I do not deserve the right, and I could never earn it. But when I trusted Jesus as my Savior, I became identified with Him. Because I am "in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6), I have free access to God's favor and a sure hope of entering heaven's glory. (v. 7).
     B.     Marks of identification:
            1.     How you talk.
            2.     How you dress
            3.     How you act
     C.     Baptism is an outward expression of our identification with Him in His death, burial, resurrection.