When God Reveals the Future

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Acts 20:17-36


I.         Consider for the moment God’s words to Abram - Genesis 15:5-6

            A.        At the time God made this promise, Abram had no children. So why tell him what the future would be like?

            B.        Later, God also tells Abram about some of the struggles his children will endure - Genesis 15:13-16

                        1.         Again, why tell Abram all of this?

                        2.         It would be four generations later before this all happens. Abram would be long buried by time it starts, let alone by the time it ended.

                        3.         Abram didn’t keep the information to himself - Genesis 18:17-19

                        4.         That information, both of the trials and the outcome would sustain his descendants.

            C.        Later God gives dreams to a teenager named Joseph - Genesis 37:5-11

                        1.         The immediate effect of the dreams was to increase the hatred of Joseph’s brothers toward him.

                        2.         So why tell Joseph in advance what was going to happen?

                        3.         Years later, when the brothers came for food, Joseph remembered the dreams - Genesis 42:6,9

                        4.         Joseph went through some very difficult trials – being sold into slavery, being falsely accused of attempted rape, and being thrown into prison for years.

                        5.         The dreams could have been a source of encouragement so that he held on during the hard times.

                        6.         But it also taught Joseph a lesson - Genesis 45:5-8

            D.        Then there was Gideon - Judges 6:12-15

                        1.         Did you catch the difference between what the angel of the Lord called Gideon and Gideon’s own words?

                        2.         Gideon is called a mighty man of valor who was to go out in might!

                        3.         At the time Gideon is a timid man who saw himself as being insignificant.

                        4.         Yet with God’s help, Gideon did turn into a mighty man of valor, well remembered for his battles.

            E.        Jump to the New Testament and we find Jesus meeting Simon for the first time - John 1:42

                        1.         As the Gospels unfold, Peter doesn’t strike you as much of a stone. His faith comes and goes in erratic bursts

                        2.         Yet eventually, he manages to live up to the name Jesus gave him - I Peter 5:1

            F.        Consider the persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus - Acts 26:16-18

                        1.         At the time it was given, you would be hard pressed to name someone more unlikely for the task.

                                    a.         A zealous Jew commissioned to teach Gentiles?

                                    b.         A persecutor of the church sent to establish churches?

                        2.         Yet those words remained with Paul for the rest of his life - Acts 20:22-24

II.        God doesn’t speak to us in dreams or send His angels to give us new names - Hebrews 1:1-2

            A.        But in His word He has done that very thing - Acts 11:26

                        1.         The word “called” in the Greek is phrased as being by divine command.

                        2.         It is the fulfillment of the promise - Isaiah 62:1-2

                        3.         Think what that name demands of us! - Ephesians 4:13-16

            B.        Our brethren, the Christians of the first century would be facing severe trials - I Peter 1:6-7

            C.        But God tells them in advance what was coming to sustain them, and mold them.

                        1.         This wasn’t some accident, it was a part of the plan of God - I Peter 1:2

                        2.         They have been reborn to a living hope of a resurrection - I Peter 1:3

                        3.         They would be heirs of an imperishable inheritance - I Peter 1:4

                        4.         They would be protected by God’s power - I Peter 1:5

                        5.         Their strength would result in praise from God - I Peter 1:7

                        6.         In the end, they would receive salvation - I Peter 1:9

            D.        At the time these promises were given, they had not yet obtained.

                        1.         They didn’t know if they would be able to endure.

                        2.         They didn’t know if God would be satisfied

                        3.         But God told them the outcome in advance

            E.        Knowing what would happen gave them the strength to endure through seemingly impossible opposition.

                        1.         Knowing that God was beside them help them hold on.

                        2.         Knowing that it wasn’t in vain kept their feet on the path.

                        3.         It changed them and molded them into something no one would expect them to become – including themselves.

III.       When you are baptized, you die to your old life to take on a new one - Romans 6:3-5

            A.        A life filled with promises of better things.

            B.        A life designated by a special name - I Peter 2:9-10

            C.        With expectations which changes you and molds you - I Peter 2:11-12

            D.        Not that it was completed then or even now - Philippians 3:12-14

            E.        This is what it means to be a Christian

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