GOD’S PLAN FOR THIS
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:
A program always indicates a starting point and a point of completion (as
a radio/television program or exercise program).
When you go to a stage performance you are usually given a program. It
tells you what is going to happen next.
A computer program is a set of coded instructions that tell a computer
how to operate certain functions.
I. A VISITATION Program— "God at the first did VISIT the Gentiles…"
It is not a plan to bring in the kingdom.
It is not a humanitarian plan.
A. God must come to
us before we can come to Him.
B. God visited Cornelius
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
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
"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.