The Cross of Christ

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I've been reading the Crossway editions of the sermons of Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Acts (5 volumes so far). In a sermon on Acts 4:23-28, Peter and John, following a night in prison, are questioned by the Sanhedrin and, after Peter has preached a sermon, they are further threatened and released. On returning to their friends, the church goes to prayer asking in effect that God would give them boldness to face whatever persecution is coming their way. In the course of the prayer, Psalm 2 is cited and reference is made to the death of Jesus at the hands of Herod and Pilate "with the Gentiles and the people of Israel" who did "whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:28). It raises the issue of predestination and its role in our understanding of the cross:

"[It] shows that God did not react to what happened on the cross; God was the author of the cross. Here, in one text, the whole thing is put absolutely perfectly. It was the action of God. That is how the early church explained it in the middle of a prayer.

I sometimes wonder whether we have ever prayed, my friends. This is praying! This is praying with understanding. This is praying as the result of the revelation of the great doctrine of salvation given by God to His people. Men actually crucified our Lord, but His death was determined by God; they were but fulfilling God's plan...

The cross an accident? The cross a surprise? The cross something that might not have happened and that need not have happened? The cross merely something that God uses? No, the cross was planned, foreordained, before the world was ever created. Before the world was ever made, God had planned the death of Christ His Son. This is the explanation, and these first believers had seen it: "Whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Book of Acts, Volume Two: Courageous Christianity (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2001), 156-157.

Posted July 13, 2006 @ 6:14 AM by Derek Thomas
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