Pastor James J. Barker

Text: ACTS 4:23-31


  1. The Bible teaches that God determines, decides, or establishes certain events in advance (Acts 4:28).
  2. God presides over history.  God overrules in the affairs of men.  The Bible teaches the sovereignty of God, and the providence of God, and the omniscience of God.
  3. The word “providence” literally means pre-vision – a foreseeing.  God knows everything – God is omniscient, and therefore He sees everything.
  4. God not only sees everything, He prepares for that which is foreseen.  Therefore, prevision leads to provision.
  5. The Bible teaches that God has foreordained certain events throughout history.   For example, Revelation 13:8 says the Lord Jesus Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
  6. First Peter 1:20 says the substitutionary death of Christ "was foreordained before the foundation of the world."
  7. In Psalm 22:16, we read (1,000 years before Calvary), "They pierced my hands and my feet."
  8. Then we read a similar prophecy in Zechariah 12:10 (500 years before Calvary), "And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced."
  9. These prophecies refer to Christ's vicarious death on the cross. John 19:37 says, "And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced."



  1. One of the ways we can be certain the Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy is the strongest proof of the Bible's divine inspiration (cf. Acts 3:18).
  2. Isaiah 42:9 says, "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them" (cf. Isaiah 46:10).
  3. No other religious book (the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Hindu scriptures, etc.) can predict the future -- only the Bible. 
  4. The Bible contains over one thousand prophecies, and about five hundred of them have already been fulfilled, right down to the minutest detail.
  5. Therefore, we can confidently believe that the remaining five hundred yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies will also come to pass at the appointed time.
  6. In our passage here in Acts 4, the apostles Peter and John were commanded by the religious leaders of Jerusalem (the Sanhedrin) "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus" (Acts 4:18).
  7. Acts 4:19 and 20 says, "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
  8. After Peter and John were released, "they went to their own company" (their Christian companions) and told them what the chief priests and elders had said to them (4:23).
  9. After hearing this report, the disciples prayed (4:24-31).
  10. In their prayer, they referred to the second Psalm, a Messianic Psalm.
  11. God, who hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is, spoke "by the mouth" of His servant David (4:24, 25).
  12. God "hast said" (4:25).  God used His servant David, but God spoke (4:25).
  13. Here we are reminded that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (II Timothy 3:16).
  14. Do not let any one deceive you into thinking the Bible is just a book written by men.  Over 400 times we read these words: "Thus saith the LORD."
  15. Second Peter 1:21 says the Bible did not come "by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
  16. Three thousand years ago, God said that the heathen would rage, and the people would imagine vain things (Acts 4:25; cf. Psalm 2:1).
  17. According to Acts 4:27, the heathen would include "Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles," working together with "the people of Israel."
  18. Psalm 2 was partially fulfilled at the cross. The final fulfillment of Psalm 2 will take place at the Battle of Armageddon, and it could be very soon.    It will be there that "the kings of the earth" and "the rulers" will be gathered together against the Lord, and their armies will attempt to fight against the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:26; cf. Psalm 2:2).
  19. I referred to the Battle of Armageddon last Sunday evening, and I mentioned that Revelation 16:12 says the Lord is going to dry up the great river Euphrates, in order to make a way for "the kings of the east" (China and her allies) to cross over to the Battle of Armageddon.
  20. In my message I read a recent article from the New York Times stating that the Euphrates River is already drying up.
  21. We are getting very close to seeing the fulfillment of all these ancient prophecies.
  22. The initial fulfillment of Psalm 2 was at Calvary.  The final fulfillment will be at Armageddon.
  23. John Phillips says, "Calvary and Armageddon are two critical phases of the world's planned opposition to Christ.  They represent the world's attitude to His two comings" (Exploring Acts).



  1. I have been emphasizing that all of this has been "determined" by God (Acts 4:27, 28).   However, the Bible also stresses man's culpability.
  2. The responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ is laid upon Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles (referring to the Roman soldiers), and the people of Israel.
  3. Verse 28 says, "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."  That all this was predetermined by God did not clear them from their responsibility and guilt.
  4. Here man's responsibility is interwoven with the predetermined plan of God.    W. Graham Scroggie said God's eternal decrees and man's free actions "interlock."
  5. It is beyond man's comprehension but we accept it by faith because the Bible teaches it (cf. Acts 2:23).
  6. Spurgeon preached a message about the wheels in Ezekiel 1, and he said these constantly moving wheels signify divine Providence.  Can you understand the significance of these wheels?
  7. Ephesians 1:11 says God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," and yet man is responsible for his actions.
  8. Matthew Henry said, "Now the God that anointed Christ determined what should be done to him, pursuant to that anointing. He was anointed to be a Saviour, and therefore it was determined he should be a sacrifice to make atonement for sin. He must die—therefore he must be slain; yet not by his own hands—therefore God wisely determined before by what hands it should be done. It must be by the hands of those who will treat him as a criminal and malefactor, and therefore it cannot be done by the hands either of angels or of good men; he must therefore be delivered into the hands of sinners."
  9. That this was all "determined before to be done," does not clear Herod and Pontius Pilate and the others from their responsibility and guilt.
  10. In fact, the Jews themselves acknowledged this (cf. Matthew 27:20-25).



  1. Though God has already "determined" (4:28) many things before hand, this does not eliminate the need for prayer (4:31).
  2. James 4:2 says, "Ye have not, because ye ask not."
  3. E.M. Bounds said, "All answers to prayer are but the intervention of the providence of God in the affairs of men...Prayer, providence, and the Holy Spirit are a trinity, which cooperate with each other and are in perfect harmony with one another. Prayer is but the request of man for God through the Holy Spirit to interfere in behalf of him who prays" (The Possibilities of Prayer).
  4. There are important lessons here. Notice, the disciples did not ask the Lord to stop the threatenings (4:29; cf. 4:21).
  5. Nor did they ask that the Lord would defeat their enemies, or deliver them from further persecution.
  6. The only thing they asked for specifically was "boldness" to proclaim the Word of God, and God answered their prayer immediately (4:29; cf. 4:31).
  7. Our Lord said in Luke 11:9 and 10, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
  8. They asked and God answered!   They asked and they received!
  9. Many Christians lack power because they are not praying.
  10. Many churches lack power because the pastor and the members are not praying.
  11. The key to the power of prayer is found in Acts 4:31 -- "and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" (cf. Luke 11:1-13).
  12. Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."
  13. God will fill us with His Spirit if our desire is to glorify Him and to proclaim His Word with boldness.
  14. Andrew Murray said, "No one can continue long and earnestly in prayer without beginning to perceive that the Spirit is gently leading to an entirely new consecration, of which previously he knew nothing" (The Prayer Life).



  1. In his excellent book on prayer, Working With God Through Prayer, D. Edmond Hiebert tells an old story (over 100 years ago) of a bookseller out west who had gotten many requests for a book written by F.W. Farrar entitled, Seekers After God.
  2. Having no copies available, the bookseller sent a telegram to the book dealers in NYC asking them to ship him a number of the books.
  3. After a while a telegram came back which read, "NO SEEKERS AFTER GOD IN NEW YORK."
  4. When I read that story, I thought -- things haven't changed much!
  5. May we seek after God today, the same way the disciples did in Acts 4:31.

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