Known to God from Eternity are all His works – Acts 15:18

 

The word “surprise” means an unexpected or astonishing event, fact or thing. When describing a surprise, we use words like shock, bombshell, revelation, eye-opener, wake-up call, or shocker. Have you been surprised lately?

Were you surprised by the results of the midterm election? Were you surprised that some were elected that seem diametrically opposed to the Constitution and the founding principles of this nation? Were you surprised that there wasn’t a “blue wave,” or “red wave,” as political pundits from each party promised? (Though undoubtedly those from either side will argue they were victorious in the election.) Have you been surprised by some of the behavior of our political leaders? Does all the shouting and fighting surprise you? Does the misinformation surprise you? Politics can be surprising.

Were you surprised to learn that recently a church in Canada has allowed an avowed atheist to continue on as its pastor? [1] Were you surprised to see a pro-abortion ad depict a beautiful baby girl as the basis for aborting children? [2] Were you surprised to see a man in Japan actually marry a woman who was a hologram? [3] Were you surprised recently that our government has plans to insert microchips in all newborns sooner rather than later? [4] And were you surprised when a French leader took the opportunity at the World War One day of remembrance to proclaim his hope and the need for Europe not only to be able to defend itself, but that they should form an “Empire”? All of these stories are true. Maybe they caused you to raise an eyebrow but given the contemporary direction our world is going in, no, they didn’t surprise you. But I have to tell you, I’m surprised to see the rapidity with which darkness is assaulting and covering our world.

There’s a lot that surprises me these days. I’m surprised so many people find it acceptable for transgender men to use women’s bathrooms. I’m surprised there are those who demand transgender men be allowed to shower with sheltered women who have been sexually abused.[5] I’m surprised there aren’t more politicians indicted and brought to trial for their corruption. I’m surprised at how such a large segment of the population of the United States is not only welcoming of socialism but is aggressively pursuing it and violently shouting down anyone who would resist such a movement. I’m surprised at how little people learn from history and the past. I’m surprised at how those who are accusing others of being fascist are acting the most fascist, and so few are making that point clear! I’m surprised when Christians cast their votes for those who support the murder of the unborn in the womb. I’m surprised when mass murder shootings in schools and bars and group gatherings are used politically to promote gun control. I’m surprised people don’t draw the connection between such horrific tragic shootings being the consequence of our schools and society moving away from God. I’m surprised when segments of the Church not only condone but promote pornography, or can think there is a brand of “ethical pornography.” [6] It surprises me when any “church” not only condones relationships the Bible says are aberrant and immoral, but promotes them as a “gift from God”![7] (That’s blasphemous!) It surprises me how so many Christians are so easily duped by false teachers and false teachings. It surprises me how so much of the Church thinks becoming like the world is a good strategy to save people out of the world. It surprises me how so many “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Yes, there’s a lot that surprises me these days. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, but I am. (I do have to admit that unfortunately I’m becoming less and less surprised by such dark sinful developments.)

But here’s a truth to be encouraged by. Nothing surprises God! Nothing that surprises us, surprises Him. God is aware and God is in control; no matter how chaotic this world becomes. That might cause some to question, “Why then does God allow evil to persist, harm and hurt to happen, and injustice to continue?” To such questions God’s word responds, “For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. To crush under one’s feet all the prisoners of the earth, to turn aside the justice due a man before the face of the Most High, or subvert a man in his cause – the LORD does not approve” (Lamentations 3:33-36). God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11). We may not always understand why God allows what He allows to happen. But we can rest assured that the LORD grieves over the consequences of sin in His creation more than we do. And we should be glad that God didn’t just scrap humanity at the first sign of sin but rather chose to enact a plan of redemption for us. It would have been easy to just throw us all away. If it were left up to you or I, maybe that’s what we should have done. But God is greater than that. God is love (1 John 4:8 and 16).

God is working out a redemptive plan to save as many as possible from the ravages of sin. That plan apparently requires an ongoing environment where the fallenness of this world and humanity continue in order to give more people time to repent and be saved. But God knows when the last person to be saved will be saved. He knows when the “fullness of the Gentiles” will come in and He knows when the last person who will be saved will be saved (Romans 11:25). God will not wait a second longer than He has to, to bring this fallen hurtful world to an end. Then He will make all things new (cf. Revelation 21-22).

An attribute that makes God, God, and which separates Him from us is His foreknowledge. God is not limited by time. He knows what is going to happen before it happens. When and if you get to heaven God is not going to be surprised you made it or didn’t make it. He knows. God has a plan for the world, for Israel, for the church and for each of us individually.

It is God’s plan and hope for the world that everyone be saved even though we know not everyone will be saved. The Apostle Peter was inspired to write, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Paul was also inspired to write that God, “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The Apostle John was inspired by God to tell us God loves the world and sent His only Son Jesus to make a way for the world to be saved. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus and His redemptive work on the cross (John 3:16).

And God made it as simple as possible for people to be saved. He provided one way for salvation, Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:10, 12). All a person needs to do is confess with their mouth the Jesus is their Lord and believe in their heart that He has raised from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). All one has to do to be forgiven their sin is repent and confess their sins to God (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:9). Just trust in the redemptive work that has been completed by Jesus on the cross (e.g. Ephesians 2:1-9). Salvation is a gift offered by God by grace (Galatians 2:16; 3:10-13). We need just receive it by grace through faith (Titus 3:4-7).

It grieves God terribly when people are not saved (Ezek. 18:32; 33:11). Hell, and eternal separation from God was never God’s intention for human beings. Hell was prepared for the devil and His demons, not for people (Mat. 25:41). But if people persist in their sin and reject God’s salvation He will sentence them to eternity in hell (Eph. 5:3-7; Col. 3:5-6; Rev. 20:11-15). Right now, Jesus can be your Savior. But if you die in your sin, Jesus will become your Judge (John 5:22). Sin is like cancer; it is never benign; it is always malignant. Therefore God will not allow sin into heaven (Rev. 21:27). That too is part of God’s plan. God has a plan for the world, salvation not hell.

God has a plan for Israel. He says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” All Israel has to do is, “. . . call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” His promise is, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:11-13). At the time of these inspired words God’s people were in captivity. These were words of hope in a time of great despair and disappointment. His promise to Israel was, “I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive” (Jer. 29:14). God was faithful to do this the first time. On May 14, 1948 He did it a second time with the creation of the establishment of the nation of Israel. He did all of this because God has a plan for Israel. He has a plan and purpose for Israel known to Him from eternity. God isn’t finished with Israel yet (cf. Romans 11). And since, “there is no partiality with God” that should encourage us too (Romans 2:11). If God doesn’t give up on Israel, He won’t give up on us.

God has a plan for the Church. “Known to God from eternity are all His works” (Acts 15:18). The context of this verse is the Jerusalem Council where the Church was discussing the transition from legalism to grace, from Old Testament to New Testament, from Israel to the Church. In the beginning the Church consisted mostly of Jews who accepted Jesus as the promised prophesied Messiah. But in Acts 10 the conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his household created a question as to what if any Jewish laws were to be kept by newly converted Gentiles? Some were saying that unless Gentile converts were circumcised they could not be saved (Acts 15:1). They were attaching a work to the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. This led to a great and pivotal discussion for the church. It was decided that it would be wrong and outside the will of God to put “a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10). Instead it was asserted that “we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved . . . .” (Acts 15:11). The Apostle Paul went on to write two landmark epistles devoted to clarifying the Gospel of Grace versus dead works-righteousness (cf. Romans and Galatians).

None of this surprised God. In fact, He spoke to Peter three times in a vision telling him that what God was cleaning up should not be called unclean (Acts 10:15-16). God said this three times to Peter to emphasize His point. Soon afterwards, a letter was drafted by the Church with the stipulations that Gentile converts should merely “abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:20). This was all God’s plan for the Church.

The Church is where we learn of the riches we have in Christ (Eph. 1). The Church is the instrument to bring salvation to a lost world (Eph. 2:1-9). The Church was to be the place where Jews and non-Jews, everyone, could be united in Christ (cf. Eph. 2:11ff.). The Church is where we learn of the love of God and how He is eager, willing and able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” to His glory (Eph. 3:13-21). The Church is the place where people are equipped to serve the LORD and bring Him glory (Eph. 4:11-12). The Church is a light in a dark world (Eph. 5). The Church is where God helps us put our spiritual armor on (Eph. 6:10-17). The Church is where we learn to pray (Eph. 6:18ff.).

But God also has an individual plan for each of us. We are God’s poetry. We are His work of art. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Each Christian is a letter from God to a lost world (2 Cor. 3:2-3). God’s plan for you is to make you like Jesus (Rom. 8:29). When we realize that it helps us understand why we experience some of the things that we do. God has a Christlike redemptive plan for each of us, not only to be saved, but to be used by Him to help others toward salvation.

We shy away from and try to avoid at all costs anything that causes discomfort. That is our temporal earthly mindset. That doesn’t surprise God. He’s known about humanity from eternity. He wasn’t surprised at Adam and Eve’s fall. God knows humanity. God looks at us and ministers to us from an eternal heavenly perspective. The most important thing from God’s point of view is that our faith be established and proven genuine (1 Peter 1:6-7). It is in and through trials that we gain the greatest insight into Jesus and who He is and what He is all about (1 Peter 1:8-9). God’s plan for us is to know Him, to know Jesus; that is eternal life (John 17:3). His plan is not only that we know Him through the power of His resurrection, but that we know Him also through the fellowship of His sufferings (Phil. 3:10; cf. also Phil. 2:1-16). So, when trials are allowed by God to enter our life, it shouldn’t surprise us.

Yes, God has a plan for us. At times that plan will involve discipline and even pain in order to bring us “out to rich fulfillment” (Psalm 66:10-12). Because God loves us He disciplines us (Heb. 12:3-15). God uses everything for good in the lives of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). Don’t ever forget that. God is for us (Rom. 8:31-32). He wants what is best for us. “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” The world, Israel, the church and we are His works. No matter what, trust Him. He knows what He is doing.

God knows what He’s doing. He knows what we’re doing. He knows what everyone is doing and even what they will do. Nothing surprises God. He laughs at those who shake a fist at Him or go down the path of feeble rebellion (cf. Psalm 2). Only a fool says there is no God (cf. Psalm 14). God in His grace has provided us with so many proofs of His existence, as well as His grace, mercy and love toward us. He has sent His Son Jesus to pay a debt for sins He didn’t owe, for a people who owed a debt they couldn’t pay (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:21). God was actually “in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God has shown us His grace, mercy, longsuffering and Holy Love throughout history. He has revealed it to us in an incredible record we call the Bible.

In that Bible, He has provided prophetic proof of His omniscience. God proves He’s never surprised as He declares “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10). And God didn’t only do this once or twice, nearly thirty percent of the Bible is prophetic telling us of future events before they happen. Everything God has ever said would come to pass, has come to pass. He identified and verified Jesus with literally hundreds of prophetic proofs. And when Jesus died for the sins of the world on the cross, it didn’t surprise God. When we think about that, it should cause us to love Him all the more. It didn’t surprise God when Jesus rose from the dead either. When we think about that it gives us glorious hope.

Recently in the political realm there has arisen an anonymous character feeding supposed privileged information to people. This character refers to themselves as “Q.” Q has dropped information over the Internet and various locations depicting the downfall of corrupt political figures. Q has offered hope to patriots of the United States of America, and even to other nations who oppose globalism. Much of what Q has said would happen, has happened. Q’s access to high positioned politicians seems credible based on his privileged information and ability to accurately predict what comes next politically. But there also seems to be a bit of smoke and mirrors. That’s because much of what Q has said would happen, has yet to happen too. Therefore, we are left teetering between belief and unbelief regarding Q. There is a lot of uncertainty. To the impatient or those who want justice to prevail, Q simply says, “Trust the plan.” It takes time and careful planning to clean the swamp, we are told. And as people “trust the plan,” and the wait for the expected application of justice is prolonged, people are becoming impatient, disheartened, and even despairing for their countries’ political plight. I have a solution to such a plight.

“Known to God from eternity are all His works.” God loves us so much He has provided us with a prophetic timeline of events to prepare us for what lays ahead. He knows what lays ahead for us. Nothing surprises God. And even if some of the things that arise in this world do surprise us, we needn’t fear, God knows what He’s doing. He loves us. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32). God wants us to spend eternity with Him. This should not surprise us. God has proven His love to us. God has never steered us wrong. God has never said one thing and done another. God has never said something would come to pass, and it didn’t come to pass. God knows what He’s allowing to happen. He has a plan for the world corporately and for us individually. God knows what He’s doing. Nothing surprises God. God has a plan. Trust Him. Trust His plan.

[1] https://www.christianpost.com/news/canadian-church-led-by-atheist-minister-rarely-reads-the-bible-replaces-lords-prayer-with-secular-mantra-170505/

[2] https://www.christianpost.com/news/pro-life-aghast-pro-abortion-ad-arguing-live-baby-girl-should-be-a-choice-228490/

[3] https://www.afp.com/en/news/15/crazy-love-japanese-man-married-hologram-doc-1ar15l1

[4] http://www.social-consciousness.com/2017/06/did-you-know-us-government-wants-microchip-all-kids-sooner-rather-than-later.html

[5] CBN.comhttps://www.google.com/amp/s/www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2018/november/transgender-men-showering-with-abuse-victims-a-vital-womens-shelter-run-by-christians-is-now-at-risk%3famp

[6] https://www.christianpost.com/news/anti-porn-activist-ethically-sourced-porn-sounds-like-an-oxymoron-228496/

[7] https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2017/08/09/bishop-calls-homosexuality-gift-god-seeks-end-prejudices-kill/