Acts 006 – How Firm a Foundation (pt. 4)Acts 1:20-26 • Dr. Andy Woods • January 11, 2023 • Acts
How Firm a Foundation, Part 4
January 11, 2022
Dr. Andy Woods
Well, howdy, everybody. I guess we can start a minute early, couldn’t we? Well, let’s open our Bibles to the Book of Acts chapter 1 and verse 20. So we haven’t been in this study for about a month, have we? I think this is our sixth lesson in the Book of Acts. But who’s counting? First couple of lessons we just talked through the introductory matters of the book. Basically, the Book of Acts is written by Luke to a man named Theophilus trying to, you know, document the birth and the growth of the church. And from there we started to move through Acts chapter 1, where we had the prologue, verses 1 through 5. And then Jesus ascended back to the Father, verses 6 through 11. Then the disciples, verses 12 through 14, left the Mount of Olives and traveled back to the city of Jerusalem. Why would they do that? Because that’s what Jesus told them to do, right? Tarry in Jerusalem until you receive power from on high. And it’s there He taught them that they would be clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit not many days from now. So they did exactly what they were supposed to do. And then we drop down to verses 15 through 26- I think we made it through verse 19 last time- where a very interesting thing happens. They have now eleven disciples instead of twelve. Judas- his suicide provided the vacancy. And so since they need twelve, they go through this whole process of trying to figure out who the twelfth apostle is going to be.
And they end up choosing Matthias. So Peter has stood up- and you’ll see Peter doing this consistently in the first 10 to 15 chapters. He stands up, he takes a position of leadership and basically says, we need a replacement for Judas. And so we were right in the middle of Peter’s proposition. And if memory serves, we finished verse 19 last time. And notice what Peter says there in verse 20 of Acts chapter 1. He says, “For it is written in the Book of Psalms, Let his homestead be made desolate, And let no one dwell in it'”, and I’ve prayed this second one here for some of our presidents. “‘Let another man take his office.'” I won’t tell you which presidents, plural, I prayed that for, but anyway. I’ll let you leave that to your imagination. But it’s interesting that Peter here is he’s making this proposal that we need to make, you know, we need to replace Judas. He quotes two Old Testament passages. The first one is Psalm 69:25, which says, “May their camp be desolate; May none dwell in their tents.” And then he quotes Psalm, the second one there, Psalm 109:8. Which says, “Let his days be few; Let another take his office.”
So these are- these two Psalms, when you go back and study them in the Old Testament- and of course, Peter is quoting the Old Testament because that’s the only revelation of God that they had scripturally at this point in time. The New Testament, of course, hadn’t been written yet. Peter is quoting two, what we call: imprecatory Psalms, where the psalmist essentially prays for the destruction upon God’s enemies. And in these two imprecatory psalms, Peter quotes them and there are two Psalms indicating that the wicked- it’s a prayer that the wicked be judged and their portion be taken away from them. So apparently Peter saw in those two Psalms a fulfillment in the person of Judas. And essentially for Judas, it was prayed of him, you know, let his days be few and let another take his office. So Peter kind of is camping on one point of similarity between these two imprecatory Psalms written 1000 years in advance and the person of Judas. And that’s sort of important what Peter is doing here, just kind of drilling down on one point of similarity because he’s going to do the exact same thing in Acts 2 with the Old Testament Prophet Joel in Joel 2. So more on that when we get to Acts 2. But he talks here about an office. And basically what Peter says in these Psalms is a prayer that somebody else would take Judas’s office or position as an apostle. So we need twelve apostles, we only have eleven. Judas left through suicide, and we need to replace him.
That’s what Peter is saying. And in so doing, Peter, verses 21 and 22, lays out the qualifications for an apostle. Notice what he says in Acts 1:21. “Therefore, it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us-” So who do we pick as an apostle to replace Judas? You’ll notice there’s very stringent criteria. You might recall going back to verse 15 that they’re in the upper room where these things are happening. There were 120 people. And what Peter is saying is, of the 120 that are here, we need to find somebody that was an eyewitness of Christ’s entire earthly ministry. And then the criteria get more narrow as you move down to verse 22 and it says, “beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us- one of these,” the 120 that are there, “-one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” So you’ll notice that not only do we need somebody who was an eyewitness to the whole Ministry of Jesus Christ, which spanned basically three- three years, three and one half years. But they needed to have been with us from the beginning. And what was the beginning? The beginning is marked by the baptism- or with the baptism of John the Baptist. And that stretches all the way back to Mark 1:4.
Which says, “John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” And that sort of marks the beginning of Christ’s ministry. Because you remember John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and said, Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the whole world. That’s in John 1:29. And it’s during that exchange that, you know, John the Baptist basically says I’m not worthy to baptize Jesus. But Jesus submits to baptism by John the Baptist anyway, because John the Baptist was the greatest prophet of the whole Old Testament age. The Old Testament age, wrapping up with the last prophet of that age, John the Baptist. So that marked, really, the beginning of Christ’s ministry. So that’s what he means in verse 22 when he says, “beginning with the baptism of John.” So when did the earthly ministry of Jesus stop? It starts with John the Baptist and it goes all the way to the Ascension. Back to verse 22, it says, “beginning with the baptism of John until the day that he was taken up from us-” That’s the ascension of Jesus that we read about earlier a few weeks back in Acts 1:9-11. Here’s how the earthly Ministry of Jesus ended, Acts 1:9, “after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way you have watched Him go into heaven.'”
So when that ascension took place, that ends the earthly ministry of Jesus. Of course, we’re going to learn from the Book of Acts that the Ministry of Jesus is going to continue. It’s just going to continue with Jesus from the Father’s right hand through the church. But before He ascended, or at the point of His ascension, that’s when there’s a transition in Christ’s ministry from Earth to Heaven. So His earthly ministry- which is what we’re talking about here- starts with John the Baptist and then it stretches all the way to the ascension. So what Peter is saying here is if we’re going to replace Judas with a true apostle, they needed to have been an eyewitness to the whole ministry of Jesus, beginning with John the Baptist all the way through into the ascension of Jesus Christ. And they needed to have also seen the bodily resurrected Jesus Christ. Verse 22, “beginning with the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us- one of these,” the 120 that are there in the upper room. “one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
So you can see how stringent this requirement is. A, an eyewitness to the whole ministry of Jesus, beginning with John the Baptist right up to the ascension. And you also have to have seen- in between there, more towards the end of that era- the resurrected Jesus. So what this is here in verse 21 and 22 is the technical definition of an apostle. The reason this is a big deal is- I’ll explain in a minute- there have to be twelve apostles. We have eleven, so we need a twelfth. And as Luke is documenting the birth and the growth of the church, a structure is only as good as the foundation it’s built upon. I think I’ve used this example before, but when we lived in Dallas, the Dallas area- which is well known for foundational problems under homes- we would wake up in the morning and there’d be just a crack that went right through the wall. And it had nothing to do with the deficiency of the color of the carpet, or something like that, or the paint. It had to do with the foundation. If the foundation is not built on the right footing, then the whole building suffers. It doesn’t matter how nice the building looks. So what is being constructed here is the New Testament church. And since Luke is talking about the New Testament Church as a work of God, he’s going into meticulous detail, talking about how it was built on the right structure.
It was not built on eleven apostles. It was built on twelve apostles, Jesus being the cornerstone of the structure. The cornerstone is the first stone that went into a temple project, and you use that to line up all the other stones in the building. Jesus is the cornerstone and then would come in the foundation stones. And the foundation stones are these, not eleven apostles, but twelve. So this is what the book of Ephesians 2:20 is talking about when it says, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus [Himself] being the cornerstone.” So this is important to understand because there’s a lot of people running around today claiming the mantle of an apostle. At which point I’d like to say to them, Man, you look good for your age. Because you really should be 2000 years old, because you would have had to be an eyewitness to the beginning, the end of Christ’s ministry, and you would have had to actually been an eyewitness to His resurrection. So I think when people claim this mantle apostle, they really don’t understand what the Bible is saying about an apostle. An apostle is a foundational stone that the church itself was built upon. An apostle is somebody who wrote Scripture.
And so when someone claims to be an apostle today in the technical sense, essentially what they’re saying is, I’m a foundation stone of the church and my authority is equal with Scripture itself. And when you start to understand what God says about an apostle versus what people claim for themselves, apostolic- some kind of apostolic mantel, you can quickly see that what they’re saying is really heretical. They really haven’t done a lot of studying to understand exactly what the Bible says about an apostle. So an apostle had to be someone who was an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus. Now the question is: Well, wait a minute, wasn’t Paul an apostle? Paul never saw the resurrected Christ. Paul, as we’re going to study in the Book of Acts, who was originally named Saul, is not going to be converted until the Damascus Road event in Acts 9, and that’s a good eight or nine chapters after Christ resurrected. So Paul himself didn’t see the resurrected Christ. I mean, Paul himself was not an eyewitness to the Ministry of Jesus, beginning with John the Baptist and going all the way to the Ascension. So why do we call Paul an apostle? Well, Paul explains why he also is an apostle in First Corinthians 15:8-9. He says, “last of all, as to one untimely born,” So Paul’s apostleship was different than the others. He was a man or an apostle that was untimely born. He never really saw himself with, really, the same authority, if I can put it that way, as the other twelve that saw Jesus.
He says, “last of all, as to one untimely born, He,” that’s Jesus, “appeared to me also.” Then he says, “For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” So Paul’s apostleship came from a vision that he saw of Christ on the Damascus Road. That’s when Jesus called him into, first of all, conversion and then into apostleship. And this is why Paul had to be trained, I believe it was in Arabia for three years, directly by God. And when he came out of Arabia, the Jerusalem apostles, the twelve, they had to look at Paul’s doctrine very carefully to make sure it was consistent with theirs. And Galatians 1:1-2, those tests were passed. Paul was an authentic apostle, but he was different than the others. And that’s why he calls himself the last, the least, I’m not even fit to be called an apostle. And he calls himself an apostle born out of due season. In the book of Ephesians 3:8, Paul of his Apostle ship says, “To me, The very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable- unfathomable riches of Christ.” So I’m the least I’m the last, Paul says.
I was born out of due season. And for those reasons alone, I don’t even- I’m not even fit to be called an apostle. And beyond that, I used to persecute the church. So Paul was just as stunned as anybody else when A, he got saved and B, the Lord gave him this title: apostle. Paul here clearly indicates that he’s the least and the last. So after Paul, in this technical sense of apostleship, there are no other apostles. Now, the word apostle is interesting because sometimes it can be used in a non-technical way. The way I’ve described it here is the technical ironclad definition. But sometimes the word apostle can just mean a sent one, like a missionary. Acts 14:4. It says, But the people of the city were divided; and some [sided] with the Jews, and the others with the apostles.” And the group there is people outside of the circle of twelve. Acts 14:14. It says, “But when the Apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out.” Now, there Barnabas is called an apostle, although he wasn’t one of the original twelve. Second Corinthians 8:23. It says, “As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brethren, they are messengers,” the Greek there is apostles. “of the churches, a glory to Christ.” So there, Titus, although he wasn’t one of the original twelve, is called an apostle.
Romans 16:7 says, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsfolk and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding [among] the apostles, who [also] were in Christ before me.” So there he mentioned some people that weren’t one of the original twelve, and Paul calls them apostles. Philippians 2:25, Paul says, “But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger,” the Greek is apostle. “and minister to my need;” Well, there he calls the Epaphroditus an apostle even though Epaphroditus wasn’t one of the original twelve. So what you see developing here very fast in the New Testament is two definitions of an apostle. First of all, there were the original twelve that had to be eyewitnesses to the things of Jesus. That’s the technical definition of an apostle. And then Paul himself became an apostle through a direct vision from God, Acts 9. And then as you start moving through the New Testament, you see people that are just sent- they’re sent by different churches- who weren’t one of the original twelve, called Apostles also. So when someone today claims to be an apostle, you know, I want to know what definition they’re applying. If they’re applying the technical definition of an apostle, there are none today. That ministry is over. God used those ministries to lay the foundation of the church. You only lay a foundation one time.
God is not relaying the foundation. What He’s been doing for the last 2000 years is He’s been putting up the walls. I would argue today He’s putting on the roof of the temple because the church age, from my perspective, looks like it’s kind of close to wrapping up, although I can’t be dogmatic about that. But it wouldn’t make sense to have an apostle again on the earth because that would be relaying the foundation of the church. But if you want to call yourself an apostle because you’re sent by a church or like you’re a missionary, a sent one, then that definition is fine because the New Testament uses the term apostle in that sense also. So are there apostles today? It depends which definition you use. The technical sense? No. The non-technical, missionary sense. Yeah. I guess there can be apostles. So this is important because today people are tossing around, particularly in the Charismatic movement, you know, this word apostle all the time. And I’m always wondering, what are you talking about exactly? Are you a missionary or are you one of the original twelve? So I hope that helps a little bit. So what happens after Peter quotes the Scripture, lays out the qualifications for an apostle- and here we’re using the word apostle in the technical sense, as we’ve explained- is Matthias is now selected and you see that in verse 23.
So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas, (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.” So of this 120, we need someone, number one, that was an eyewitness to the whole ministry of Jesus. Number two, starting from John the Baptist to the Ascension. Number three, someone that saw the resurrected Christ. And of this group of 120 in the upper room, they found two people. Two people met the criteria. Number one was Joseph and number two was Matthias. So how do we figure out which one to put into the office of apostle to replace Judas? We don’t need both of them. We just need one. Notice what they do. They go to prayer. You see that there in verse 24. “And they prayed and said. ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen.” So you notice they didn’t look at their resumes. They didn’t say, okay, what are your spiritual gifts? What’s your- what’s your psychological temperament? Because we need the right temperament to work with this group. You know, all the things the modern church does when it’s selecting leaders. They didn’t hire a headhunter. They have two candidates. And how are they supposed to know if it’s candidate A or candidate B? Both meet the criteria. They go to prayer. Now, why in the world would they go to prayer? Because it’s right there in verse 24. “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men.”
They appeal to God’s omniscience. In fact, they appeal to God- the Greek reads “a heart knower.” The Greek word is kardia, where we get the word heart. Gnósis, where we get the word knowledge. Compound word, two words making up one word. I think it’s only used twice in the New Testament. I think it’s used here in Acts and it’s used in Acts 15. It’s an interesting word. It’s called the heart knower. And essentially what they’re saying is, God, you are the heart knower. What does First Samuel 16:7 say? Famous passage. When the man of God came to the home of Jesse to anoint the next king of Israel. And Jesse brought out all of his kids and Samuel said, No, it’s not him. It’s not him. It’s not him. You got any other kids around here? Well, there’s this little kind of runty kid in the back taking care of the sheep. You’re not talking about him, are you? And of course, Samuel says to Jesse, Bring him out. And Samuel says he’s the guy. Why is that? Famous passage, First Samuel 16:7. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him;'” Saul, in other words, “‘for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance.'” Resumes, academic degrees, intelligence, personality, likability. All the things that we look for in the modern church.
‘”God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” Because God is the heart knower. I had a conversation with somebody recently about their church and their struggle to find a pastor or a leader. And I just said to them, Well, can you explain to me the process that you’re using to find your leader, your pastor, your shepherd? And this particular individual went into all kinds of information about resumes, the hiring process, proper salary, hiring a headhunter. I mean, kind of all of the things that you think about in corporate America when you hire somebody. And you have to understand something about a lot of our elder boards, unfortunately, in Bible churches. A lot of the elder boards are comprised of people that have a strong executive or business background. Which in and of itself is not a bad thing. But what very often happens is that very strong business background- they’ll pull right into the church. And they’ll think, well, that’s how it works in corporate America. This is how it must work in the church as well. And they’ll take that exact same acumen and apply it to the world of the church.
And as this person was describing all of the things their leadership was going through to find a pastor- I had just finished studying, by the way, Acts chapter 1- and I just said, Well, I think you’re- I was a little bit more tactful how I said it, but I just said, I think your whole approach is wrong. I think your elders should take all of that stuff and just put it away for a while and seek the face of God, in prayer and ask for the wisdom of God. Because what happens is they- as Timothy says, Paul writing to Timothy, don’t lay hands too swiftly on somebody because you don’t know their character. What happens is you see somebody, they fit your manmade criteria, you immediately put them in that position and then it doesn’t work out. Something goes wrong or they leave or they become immoral or any number of things happen. And it relates to the fact that that leadership did not wait on God. They enthrone their own leader instead of God’s leader. And this is why we have these examples i the book of First Samuel of how they all wanted Saul, because Saul fit the part and he looked good and he was tall also. Probably stood about six foot six and a half. Hey, let’s grab this guy and put him in. And if they had just well, first of all, they should have known better, because what tribe did Saul come from? Benjamin? The king is supposed to come from which tribe? Judah. The priests come from Levi. Kings come from Judah. So they weren’t even following God’s pattern of leadership at all.
They were just doing their own thing. And then, you know what happened to Saul? He was a disaster of a king. And if they had just waited on God, they could have had David. But it’s hard to wait on God when we have our own schedule to meet, right? We’ve got people out there that want to know what’s going on. We’ve got a budget, we’ve got a mortgage, Let’s get our guy and let’s just jam him in there. And this is why the church in the West, particularly in the United States, does not have the effectiveness or the power that God wants it to have, because churches have a tendency to get outside the leading of God. And if you don’t think a church can get outside the leading of God, just read Revelation 3 and read what Jesus says to the church at Laodecia. So clearly churches can get outside of the leading of God. So you’ll notice what they’re doing here. They’re waiting on God. We’ve got two guys. We don’t know which one to pick, but Lord, You know. We don’t have to know. You know, because You are the kardia-gnosis, the heart knower. And look at their request. “Show,” as they’re praying, which of these two? Joseph versus Mathias. “which of these two You have chosen” It’s not for God to choose. They’re not saying God, make your choice.
You got two here God, You choose. They’re not praying for God to choose, but for God to reveal the choice that e has already made. See that? It’s not a type of prayer request where it’s like, okay, option A, option B. Okay, God, you make your choice. Their assumption is God already chose. What we want You, Lord to do is to show us Your choice. Now, obviously, if the apostles are going to go to this length, Peter is going to go to this length- when the church was started, it was started on the right foundation because they got the right guy. They weren’t trying to jam their own agenda into the forefront. They were waiting upon the leading of God. And you see the purpose of the prayer. Verse 25, “to occupy this ministry and apostleship” Choose the man to take the place in ministry the apostleship of Judas who is not with us anymore because he committed suicide. What happened to Judas? It’s right there, second half of verse 25. “from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” What was his own place? His own place was outside of the office God had for him. He rejected it. When he rejected it, it was the fulfillment of those two psalms that Peter quotes in verse 20. And so Judas, when he rejected his ministry and he rejected his apostleship, he went to his own place.
Now, let’s talk about something very, very serious here: the issue of suicide. Because that’s what Judas did. He committed suicide. Is suicide, the unpardonable sin? Well, we’ll ask and answer that in a moment. A prior question is this: was Judas saved or unsaved? There’s a lot of people running around in the free grace circles. I think the fella’s name is Arlen Chitwood, I think wrote a book about it. And he was basically trying to argue that Judas was saved. He was a believer. When he died, he went to heaven. When he died, he went to heaven. I want to give you five reasons why Judas clearly was not saved. Number one, it says here he went to his own place. That is a very strange description of the afterlife for a Christian. The Bible never refers to the afterlife of the believer as going to your own place. And in fact, Paul says, Second Corinthians 5:8, absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, not to go to your own place. Paul says in Philippians 1:21-23. “For to me, live as Christ and to die as gain.” Not to go to your own place, but to gain. “But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better.”
So when the Christian dies, it’s a gain, it’s a celebration. And they actually go to a better place. I mean, what’s it like when the Christian dies? Where did they go? They went to a better place. Better than what? Better than this earth. So there’s no possible way if that’s true and Judas was saved. His death would be described as going to his own place. That doesn’t make any sense. Number two, Judas was not saved because he never believed. He never trusted in the finished work of Christ for his salvation. How do I know that? It’s in John’s 6. You might want to just slip over there if you could. John six. Verse 64. It says there, “But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.” What Jesus is saying here is there’s people here that have never trusted in me for salvation. Well, who- who is that, Jesus? It’s the one who’s going to betray me. The one who betrays me never believed. Who was the one that’s going to betray him? It’s right there at the end of the chapter. Chapter 6 verse 71. “Now he meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he one of the twelve was going to betray Him.” The one who betrays Me never believed.
Well, who’s the one that betrays you? He explains later, just a few verses later, it’s Judas. So Judas committed the only sin that God will never forgive. That’s going to your grave having never trusted in Christ for salvation. So Judas is one of these people that superficially attached himself to Jesus Christ. He probably-I would guess, given his materialism and his willingness to sell out Jesus for just thirty pieces of silver-I think he attached himself to Jesus by way of a relationship because he thought the kingdom was going to come. Because the kingdom was being offered to first-century Israel throughout the Ministry of Christ until you get to Matthew 12. And when it became clear that the nation would not receive the offer of the kingdom and the kingdom would be in a state of postponement and the millennial kingdom would not come, I think Judas got more and more frustrated and more and more irritated because he thought he was going to be given a ground floor position in the kingdom. That’s why you have these kind of stories where the mom comes up and says, Of these two sons of mine can they be granted positions of authority in the kingdom? I mean, everybody thought the kingdom was going to come. And if you’re around Jesus long enough, you are going to be given a wonderful position in the kingdom. But the problem is the nation of Israel wouldn’t receive the offer.
And the longer Judas figured out that the kingdom wasn’t going to come, the more angry I believe he got towards Jesus. That’s why he’s embezzling money from their bag, and that’s why he finally sells out for thirty pieces of silver. So Judas is a person who is attached to Christ but never really trusted Him for salvation. It’s kind of a scary position to be in when you think about it. Because to whom much is given much is…what? Much is expected. I mean, the person to really feel sorry for is a person that’s a regular churchgoer and they go to a good church and they hear solid truth week after week after week after week but they never trusted in Christ for salvation. When the final judgment comes to whom much is given, much is expected, that person is going to be judged with great severity. And it’s somewhat scary to think about-the church world being filled with churchgoers that aren’t really believers. That’s why every single week at this church, we give the gospel. We want anybody that happens to be here for cultural reasons or whatever, to actually exercise faith in the Messiah. So the second reason Judas was not a believer is John 6 verse 64 and verse 71 clearly say he never believed. A third reason why Judas could not have been a believer is because Jesus said of Judas in Matthew 26:24, “It would have been good for that man if he had never been born.”
Be better for him if he had never lived. Because now dying without faith in the Messiah, he moves off into judgment where he’s going to be judged by the light that he had, which was a lot of light. I mean, he’s there listening to Jesus teach. He’s there watching his miracles. And he never trusted in Christ for salvation. To whom much is given, much is expected. Jesus says for such a man, it’d be better for him if he had never existed. That’s a very odd statement if Judas was saved. In fact, that statement doesn’t even make any sense if Judas was saved. A third reason why Judas could not have been saved is in John 17:2. He’s called the Son of Perdition which is a title used of only one other person in the Bible. Anybody know who it is? The Antichrist. The exact same title. Of the coming lawless one. Paul calls him the son of-this translates it as “son of destruction.” But in the Greek it reads the exact same way. Son of perdition, son of destruction. We know the Antichrist is not saved. And only one other person in the whole Bible is called that name, and it’s Judas. And then a final reason why Judas could not have been saved is John 13:27, which says, “Satan then entered into him.”
I mean, it’s-when it came to the final deed of the betrayal of Christ the devil didn’t influence Judas, he went right inside of him and possessed him. That explains why the Antichrist, called by the same name, is so hell-bent, pardon the expression, on eradicating Israel in the final three months-three and a half years of the tribulation period, because Satan also, I believe in a similar way, will go right inside the Antichrist. So one of the things to understand as a Christian is Satan can do an awful lot of things to you. He can oppress you, but he cannot possess you because your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. So the fact that he just went right into Judas with no opposition at all to me indicates that Judas was never a believer. Why was Judas never a believer? Because he went to his own place, number one. Number two, he never believed, John 6. Number three, it was said of him it would be better for him if he had never been born. Number four, he’s called the AntiChrist’s name, son of Perdition. And number five, he was possessed by Satan himself. Now, second question is suicide. Did he go to hell because he committed suicide? No. He went to hell because he never believed in the Messiah. Suicide, if you’ve dealt with a family who one of their family members or one of their friends committed suicide- and the total whirlwind it leaves behind of all of these sort of unanswered questions.
People say, well, was it my fault that he committed suicide? Their loved ones say that. Um, I mean- I mean, suicide is a terrible sin, and it doesn’t just victimize the person that committed suicide. It victimizes family members and friends. But suicide itself, as bad as it is, is not the unpardonable sin. The Bible is not pro-suicide. The Bible does not want you to take your own life. The reason God doesn’t want you to take your own life is because God is God and He’s the giver of life and He takes life. You’re putting yourself in the position of God. And you might think to yourself, Well, I’m here and I’m miserable and my life isn’t going anywhere. Well, the fact of the matter is, you’re still here. The reason you’re here is because God has allowed you to be here because obviously God wants to do something in and through you or you wouldn’t be here, right? So the decision of who dies- that’s God’s decision. And when a person commits suicide, they’re putting themselves in the position of God. Suicide is a horrible thing. But suicide itself is not the unpardonable sin. It is not the sin that God will never forgive. The only sin that God will never forgive is dying in unbelief having never trusted in Christ. You say, Well, Pastor, you sound very certain of this.
Do you have any scripture to back it up? Yes, I do. First Samuel 31:4. Saul, first king of Israel committed suicide. He fell on his own sword. But what did Samuel say to him a couple of chapters earlier? First Samuel 28:19. It says, “Moreover the Lord will also give over Israel along with your hands- along with you into the hands of the Philistines,” You might remember the story there in First Samuel 28, where Sam- it’s actually Samuel that comes up as Saul is seeking to consult the Witch of En-dor. Ya’ll remember? A lot of people think it really wasn’t Samuel. It was a demon pretending to be Samuel. But that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible uses the word Samuel. For some reason, God allowed Samuel to come back from the other side to speak to Saul as Saul was consulting the Witch of En-dore. And this is what Samuel said to Saul, who was going to commit suicide a few chapters later. “Moreover the Lord will [also] give over Israel along with you, into the hands of the Philistines, therefore tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” what Samuel said, You’ll be with me, knowing that Saul was going to commit suicide. So when Saul committed suicide, what, did he go to hell? No, He went to be with Samuel in heaven. I’ve got clear biblical evidence that suicide, as horrible as it is, is not the unpardonable sin.
I have a second piece of evidence with Samson. You know the story of Samson, right? First Samuel 16:30-31, “And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it,” including Samson. “Then his brothers and all his father’s household came, took him…and buried him.” So Samson brought down the temple pillars, killing himself and many others in the process. Samson committed suicide. Yet, who do you find in the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11, with all the other saved people? You’ll see Samson’s name right there in Hebrews 11:32. Samson, when he committed suicide, went to heaven. Saul, when he committed suicide went to heaven. Suicide itself is not the unpardonable sin. It’s a terrible sin. But it’s not unpardonable. The only unpardonable sin is unbelief. I go into this detail because a lot of think- a lot of people think Judas went to hell because he committed suicide. That’s just biblically not true. Judas indeed went to hell. It’d be better for him if he had never been born. But it had nothing to do with his suicide. It had to do with his unbelief. You go down to verse 26, just to finish the story here with Matthias and the chapter. Oh, my gosh. Look at this. “they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias.”
Which one are we going to pick? Well, let’s draw lots. Now, a lot of people will say, well, obviously Matthias’s apostleship was not legitimate because they were drawing lots. But you have to understand something. The spirit hadn’t fallen yet. We’re still in, to a large extent, the Old Testament dispensation where the will of God was frequently determined through the drawing of lots. Leviticus 16:8. “Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.” Nehemiah 10:34 “Likewise, we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests.” Nehemiah 11:1, “Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of the ten to live in Jerusalem.” Joshua 14:2, how was the land divided? Joshua 14:2, “by the lot of their inheritance, as the Lord commanded through Moses.” Proverbs 16:33, The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.” By the way, Gabe is teaching Jonah, right? I don’t know if he covered this this Sunday, but how do they decide to throw Joan out of the boat? They cast lots. And each man- And it was God’s will for Jonah to be thrown overboard so he could be eat- not eaten, but swallowed by the giant fish. Jonah 1:7, “Each man said to his mate, ‘Come, let’s cast lots so that we might find out on whose account this catastrophe has struck us.'”
Don’t think that these people somehow made an illegitimate decision because they cast lots to determine the will of God. That was common in that age, in that dispensation, particularly before the Holy Spirit had fallen in the next chapter. And who did the lot fall to as they’re praying to God the heart-knower? Show us which of these two to pick. It says, “they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and Matthias was added to the eleven apostles.” Why go into all this detail? Because a building is only good as the structure it’s built on. We need twelve apostles. Why do we need twelve apostles? You ever asked yourself that? It’s in Revelation 21:14 describing the new Jerusalem. It says, “the wall of the city had 12 foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles.” So in the New Jerusalem, the last two chapters of the Bible, the city is going to be set up, I think like a giant cube, and you’re going to have three gates on each side. And the foundation of each gate is named after one of the apostles just like each of the gates itself is named after one of the twelve tribes. How many gates are we dealing with here? Not eleven but twelve. That’s why they’re going into all this detail about we’ve got to pick the 12th Apostle and Luke is using this to communicate to Theophilus, who has been reached by the church, wondering if he was ever contemplated by God.
Luke is explaining all of this to show: of course, you’re contemplated by God. Look at the foundational structure God put in place with exact precision so that the gospel through the church could get to you. So the church was built on the right foundation. It was built on the twelve apostles. Now, one other fast thing I want to bring to your attention is there’s a teaching out there that says the apostles here in picking Matthias made a big mistake. They should never- and by the way, the first guy I ever heard this from was from one of my favorite favorite favorite favorite favorite Bible teachers, J. Vernon McGee, who I agree with on almost everything there is to agree on. But I was listening to him once and he said, you know, the apostles they just made a big goof. They picked the wrong guy. And if they had just waited on the Lord, they would have gotten Paul. So some of his arguments were- and you can still hear him on the radio saying this. And it doesn’t mean we burn the books and disparage his ministry because we disagree with him on something. But you should know that sometimes you can listen to someone really good and they may not have it exactly right.
You guys understand that, right? Well, Pastor Andy, we love you. You’re just great. I can get it wrong. Ask my wife. She’s right out there. I’ve been wrong on a lot of things. Your authority is not Pastor Andy. It’s not J. Vernon McGee. It’s the Bible, right? So some of his arguments were the Spirit hadn’t been given yet, and so they made a premature move. They should have made this decision in Acts 2, not Acts 1. After all, they cast lots and Baptists would never do something like that. And beyond that, Matthias disappears from the rest of the book of Acts. J. Vernon McGee said, you never hear from Matthias again. That’s proof the apostles had it wrong here. And if they had just waited on the Lord, they would have gotten Paul as the twelfth. I do not think that that view is correct. I think the Apostles in selecting Matthias got it exactly right. Why do I think that? Notice the right-hand column there. There’s nowhere in Acts 1 that says: Mistake! Luke never says they made a mistake. So to believe they made a mistake is to read into the text what the text doesn’t overtly say. Number two, when the twelve, eleven plus Mathias, are referred to elsewhere in Acts they’re always highly esteemed. Acts 2:14, “But Peter, taking his stand with the [other] eleven”. I mean, it doesn’t say Peter took his stand with the eleven, and one of them’s a dud.
Acts 6:2, chapter six, verse 2, the twelve summon the congregation. The twelve are always esteemed. And number three there, when you look at Acts 1:24, who made this choice? Who chose Matthias? The heart-knower God. That’s what they were praying for. Lord reveal to us Your choice. And they cast lots to determine the will of God. And the lot fell on Matthias. That’s- to say that there was a mistake made is to challenge verse 24, which seems to indicate very clearly that God revealed His decision. Beyond that, you can’t just throw it out because they were casting lots. Because as I tried to explain earlier in that age, the casting lots to determine the will of God was common. Proverbs 16:33. Beyond that, Paul himself was unqualified. I mean, they could have waited for Paul, but he wouldn’t have met the qualifications of verses 21 and 22 because he never saw the Ministry of Jesus from the beginning to the end. That’s why Paul keeps calling himself an apostle untimely born. And then what about this business of Matthias disappearing? Well, of course, Matthias would disappear. And in fact, if you go back to verse 13, it lists The eleven. All of them disappear in the Book of Acts other than Peter because the book of Acts is not narrating an exhaustive treatment on what happened to all these apostles.
The focus of the Book of Acts, and we covered it in our introduction together when we first started, is on two apostles. Who are those? Peter and Paul. So the fact that this argument that Matthias has never mentioned again, therefore he was illegitimate, well, why would Matthias be mentioned again in a book whose focus is Peter and Paul? So all of that to say, contrary to some very good Bible teachers that teach something different, I don’t think there was any mistake made here. Matthias is the guy. They did it exactly right and the church started on the exact foundation that it was supposed to start on. Which is significant because if the foundation’s not right the whole structure is broken. And you’re going to see a structure built in this book, I’m telling you. Katy, bar the door. It’s going to be great to see God build this building. And what God built into the church, which we are now the recipients of in the 21st century, is a beautiful structure starting with the foundation. That’s the point. Father, we’re grateful for Your truth, grateful for Your word, grateful for this first chapter. I do pray You’ll give us the sermon as we continue to study next week taking a look at Acts chapter 2. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, God’s people said [amen]. Try to read if you could Acts 2 for next week and we’ll get into that. Anybody want to stick around for Q&A?