Acts 1:12-16 The Sovereignty of God and His Faithfulness to His Word

Meditation for Preparation

Notice first what Peter says in verse 16, “Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas.”

Now step back and look at the whole thing. In the middle of this paragraph (v. 20) there are two quotations from Scripture. One has to do with the desolation of Judas’s habitation, and the other has to do with the replacement of Judas among the 12 apostles. These two Scripture quotes govern the rest of what’s in this paragraph, namely, the story of how each of them was fulfilled.

The fulfillment that has already happened is described first in verses 17–19—how Judas’s blood-money came to buy a desolate field of blood. The fulfillment that is taking place as Peter speaks is described second in verses 21–26—how Judas’s office was filled by another.

Over these four parts (the two Scripture quotes, and the two descriptions of fulfillment) we find the main point or the theme flag flying in verse 16, namely, “The scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas.”

I hope it is obvious therefore where I get my first point, namely, that God wants us to see the invincible purpose of the Holy Spirit. God wants us to see this morning that when the Holy Spirit says something, it will be fulfilled, even if it takes a thousand years.

You see this invincible purpose most clearly in the words “had to” in verse 16: “The scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke.” How can Peter say, “It had to be”? Why did it have to be? Isn’t life full of contingencies? Isn’t the future open-ended? Aren’t people free to make of life whatever they want so that even God has to adjust his plans? How can he say, “It had to be!”? I think there is only one answer: either Peter was wrong (and you must decide whom you will believe, the skeptics or the apostles)—either Peter was wrong in verse 16, or the purpose of the Holy Spirit, expressed in Scripture, is invincible—unconquerable, indomitable, supreme, omnipotent.

This is one of the things you want to see on the Father’s face when you look up to him in a time of crisis and danger—and especially in a time when you are being betrayed. You want to see that his purpose is not crumbling; that he is not worried; there is no panic in his face; but only the confidence of an invincible purpose. He has spoken and it has to be.

Imagine what it would have been like for Jesus if he had no way of fitting Judas into the invincible purposes of God. In John 17:12 Jesus prayed, “While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled.” You can imagine him praying, “I have guarded my own, and I only lost one. I can’t account for it—his treachery, his betrayal—he was like a loosed, wild canon, unpredictable, out of control, there is no explaining it. It’s a glitch.”

But Jesus did not pray that way. Because God is not that way. And let us be thankful and give him praise, because we will never look up into the face of our Father in a time of crisis and danger and betrayal, and see a puzzled and worried face. We will see what we want so much to see, the confidence of an invincible purpose.

John Piper

Heart Preparation
Read Acts 1:12-26 and consider the sovereignty of God and his faithfulness to his Word. If God is sovereign over all and is always faithful to his Word what does that mean for the way you approach your every day life?

Posted on: May 16, 2013 - 10:35PM

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