God Knows What He's About

Bible Book: Acts  15 : 18
Subject: God, Sovereignty of; Foreknowldge of God; Omniscient God

Dr. Nehemiah Boynton (1856-1933) author of Real Preaching, shares, “There is a story which Lord Tennyson used to love to tell of an old farm bailiff whose allegiance to the squire had become so complete that he failed to recognize any superior authority or power in the universe. When after a long sickness it was tenderly announced to the old man that he would soon pass away, he remarked in surprise, ‘God little knows what he’s about, a-taking me, and the squire’ll be so mad and all.’” Dr. Boynton observes, “. . . in these days, so full of rush and business, the impression is something given that God little knows what He’s about, that He has in some way in our age missed His reckoning, that His latitude and longitude are mistaken, and that the forces represented by the squire are after all the superlative ones. Certainly in missionary work there is no more fundamental necessity than the assured conviction and the absolute certainty that God knows what He’s about.”[1] Let me encourage you to participate in the Great Commission by giving generously for world missions! This is not the only way, but it is one way to partner with others who are sharing the gospel. As you go, share the gospel and make disciples!

Sunday morning several weeks ago (09/28/14) while preaching the Lord called my attention to a curious phrase. Acts 15:18 reads, "Known to God from eternity are all His works."

Allow me to share three things related to this statement.

I. Note the affirmation of this statement.

Acts 15:18 reads, “Known to God from eternity are all His works." About “the Lord, who makes these things known from of old,” Dr. Simon J. Kistemaker explains, “This verse teaches two facts. First, God gives this prophecy to his people with the promise that he will accomplish what he has said. Accordingly, when James quotes these words from Amos, he is supporting Peter’s report that God makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles in regard to their salvation (v. 9). God himself has spoken in his Word and gives the assurance that he will do the things he has made known.

Second, the things spoken by God have been known long ago (Isa. 45:21). God made them known in the days of Amos; he does so again at the time of the Jerusalem Council. In fact, these things go back to the time when Abram received the promise that he would be the father of many nations. For that reason, God gave him the name Abraham (Gen. 17:5). The things spoken by God refer to David, who extended the boundaries of Israel; David conquered the surrounding nations to obtain the full extent of the Promised Land. To an infinitely greater degree, David’s descendant Jesus Christ rules over all the nations of the earth.”[2] God knows what He’s about!

II. Note the application of this statement.

Acts 15:18 reads, "Known to God from eternity are all His works." Dr. A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) explains, “If we miss seeing God in his works we deprive ourselves of the sight of a royal display of wisdom and power so elevating, so ennobling, so awe-inspiring as to make all attempts at description futile. Such a sight the angels behold day and night forever and ask nothing more to make them perpetually satisfied.”[3] Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains, “God revealed these truths gradually to His people, but His plan had been settled from the beginning. Neither the Cross nor the church were afterthoughts with God (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; Eph. 1:4). The Judaizers thought that Israel had to ‘rise’ in her glorious kingdom before the Gentiles could be saved, but God revealed that it was through Israel's ‘fall’ that the Gentiles would find salvation (Rom. 11:11-16). At the time of the Jerusalem Conference, David’s house and throne indeed were fallen; but they would be restored one day and the kingdom established.”[4] There are three elements related to the application of this statement recorded in Acts 15:18, “Known to God from eternity are all His works."

A. First, there is the conversion of the Gentiles.

Acts 15:3 reads, “So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren.” Acts 1:8 reads, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

B. Second, there is the conflict over the Gentiles.

Acts 15:6 reads, “Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.” They came together to address the conflict over how to deal with the Gentiles.

C. Third, there is the conclusion about the Gentiles.

Acts 15:19, 21, 28-29 and 21:25 reads, “And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written . . . . For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath . . . . For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well . . . . But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” Notice the repetition of a three-fold prohibition related to idolatry, immorality and insensitivity to human life. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 reads, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

God knows what He’s about!

III. Note the acclamation of this statement.

Acts 15:18 reads, "Known to God from eternity are all His works." We should applaud it and welcome it! Many are misled by the assumption of “Open Theism” that there are some things God does not know. We are grateful for His prognosis for our redemption and for His providence in our life for time and eternity. I remember hearing Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) ask, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurred to God?” Dr. Rogers recounts, “Once I had the rare opportunity of visiting with Corrie Ten Boom. I drank in her words. I listened and kept my mouth shut. One of her statements went straight to my heart: ‘There is no panic in heaven, only plans.’”[5]

I remember the following poem from the poetry contests at Greystone Christian School in Mobile, Alabama. Likely, Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) memorized it as a child also. Some attribute it to her but it was almost certainly written by someone else, since I found the last stanza cited without attribution in 1899 in the Record of Christian Work, edited by William Revell Moody[6]:

“My life is but a weaving Between my God and me. I cannot choose the colors He weaveth steadily. Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow; And I in foolish pride Forget He sees the upper And I the underside. Not ’til the loom is silent And the shuttles cease to fly Will God unroll the canvas And reveal the reason why. The dark threads are as needful In the weaver’s skillful hand As the threads of gold and silver In the pattern He has planned He knows, He loves, He cares; Nothing this truth can dim. He gives the very best to those Who leave the choice to Him.”[7]

Dr. Stephen J. Wellum writes, “Scripture nowhere affirms, as does open theism, that God does not know future free actions of human beings so that the future is to Him uncertain. Rather, God’s knowledge is presented as comprehensive, certain, and immediate including things past, present, and future, things possible as well as actual (Ps. 139:1-4, 16; Isa. 40:13-14; 41:22-23; 42:8-9; 46:9-11; Acts 2:22-24; 4:27-28; Rom. 11:33-36).”[8] Let’s pay careful attention to each these verses of Scripture collected by Dr. Wellum as a collage.

Psalm 139:1-4 reads, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.”

Isaiah 40:13-14 reads, “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, And taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding?”

Isaiah 41:22-23 reads, “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together.”

Isaiah 42:8-9 reads, “I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

Isaiah 46:9-11 reads, “Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.”

Acts 2:22-24 reads, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.”

Acts 4:27-28 reads, “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”

Romans 11:33-36 reads, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?’ ‘Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?’ For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

Ecclesiastes 9:1 reads, “For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them.” David George Moore, comments, “Our lives are marked by many uncertainties, but nothing surprises God. This counteracts a recent view of God called ‘Open Theism,’ in which God may voluntarily choose not to know what we will do in some situations. Man is clueless, but God is all-knowing. Therefore, the only proper response to God is fear and trust.”[9] God knows what He’s about!


“No one can predict the future,” according to a commercial on Public Broadcasting (PBS) at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, September 30, 2014. Dr. Albert Barnes shares the following: “Known unto God, etc. Acts 1:24 “. . . You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all. . . .” The meaning of this verse, in this connexion, is this. God sees everything future; he knows what he will accomplish; he has a plan; and all his works are so arranged in his mind, that he sees all things distinctly and clearly. As he foretold these, it was a part of his plan; and as it was a part of his plan long since foretold, it should not be opposed and resisted by us.”[10] God knows what He’s about! Numbers 23:19 reads, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Isaiah 46:10 reads, “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure’.”

Frederic Morell Holmes (1851-?) shares the following exchange between a little girl named, Faith, and a Mr. Willy Wankey in his book titled, Faith’s Father: A Story of Child-Life in London Bye-Ways: “I PASS over the next few days of Faith’s life. They were very sad days for both her and her mother; for although they had previously lost all hope, yet now that the dread certainty had come, and moreover, proved to be of such a painful nature, they felt it terribly.

But the child’s faith in the existence and infinite love of God did not waver, nor, after the first numbing shock was over, did she seem to be unconscious of His presence. On the contrary, the simple feeling that He would still take care of her father—whom He had removed to a brighter and better home—and would also continue to protect both her mother and herself, was strengthened, and proved more than ever to be the cause of her comfort.

She felt Him to be her ‘other Father’ still, and was more determined than ever to try to please Him. She needed a father now more than ever, she said.

One afternoon she was sitting as usual on the bench, reading to Willy Wankey. This time the book was ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ and it was difficult to say which of the two enjoyed it most—the little girl or the old man.

Presently, Faith became a little thoughtful, and then she said suddenly, ‘Mr. Wankey, why did not God let my father find out an island like Robinson Crusoe?’

Mr. Wankey stopped his work and rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a minute or two, then he shook his head, and said he did not know.

‘I wonder why He didn’t,’ pondered Faith.

‘All I can say is,’ rejoined Willy Wankey, after a pause, ‘as you read so often out of the Bible, God knows what He’s about, and will surely do all things right.’

‘Yes,’ said Faith, thoughtfully; then after a little while she added, ‘But I think I should like to know; if He knows what He’s about He must have some reason for what He does.’

‘Faith,’ said Willy Wankey, presently, ‘do you love God still?’

‘Why, of course,’ said Faith, looking surprised.

‘What, after allowing your father to die in such a dreadful way?’

The little girl looked troubled for a moment, then said, ‘Jesus Christ loved God [the Father] right through His life, even when he was on the cross; and my father loved Him, even when he was in the boat dying, and why should not I. Besides, what should I do if I do not love God? He is my Father.’

Mr. Wankey merely nodded his head, and changed the subject by saying, ‘Well, if your father had got on to a desert island it would be just as bad for you, you could not see him; and think how lovely he would be there! Now he is in heaven, and happy.’

‘Yes,’ said Faith, quietly; then she paused, for she was thinking deeply; and presently she cried out excitedly, ‘I know why God took him away, Mr. Wankey.’

‘Well?’ replied the old man interrogatively.

‘Why, don’t you see,’ said Faith, ‘I used not to call God my ‘other Father,’ and did not care to please Him. I never thought of Him as my Father at all; but now I do, and I feel He will always be taking care of me and loving me, and teaching me. Don’t you see? and He will be sure to look after my father, because He loves him too.’

‘Yes,’ said Mr. Wankey, ‘I see that; but I can tell you another reason.’

‘What is it?’ asked Faith.

‘Ah!’ said the old man, bending over the boots he was mending. ‘Now, if your father had not been lost, you would not have come to live here in Thorold’s Rents; and if your mother had not been ill, I might never have seen you, little gal, and before I saw you I did not believe in God at all.’

‘Oh, Mr. Wankey!’ cried Faith, ‘but you do now, do you not?’

‘Yes,’ said Mr. Wankey, gently.

‘And you love Him now, and Jesus Christ—do you not?’

‘Yes,’ replied Mr. Wankey again.

‘I am so glad!’ cried Faith; and she clapped her little hands in great delight.

After this she went on with her reading again, and they were both absorbed in poor Robinson Crusoe’s adventures until the time came to prepare for tea.”[11]

God knows what He’s about! The following poem attributed to Dale Martin Stone affirms this truth:


When God wants to drill a man,

And thrill a man,

And skill a man

When God wants to mold a man

To play the noblest part;


When He yearns with all His heart

To create so great and bold a man

That all the world shall be amazed,

Watch His methods, watch His ways!


How He ruthlessly perfects

Whom He royally elects!

How He hammers him and hurts him,

And with mighty blows converts him


Into trial shapes of clay which

Only God understands;

While his tortured heart is crying

And he lifts beseeching hands!


How He bends but never breaks

When his good He undertakes;

How He uses whom He chooses,

And which every purpose fuses him;

By every act induces him

To try His splendor out-

God knows what He’s about.[12]

“Known to God from eternity are all His works" (Acts 15:18). Remember, God knows what He’s about!


[1]The American Missionary, Vol. 56, April 1902, No. 4, Rev. Nehemiah Boynton, D.D., Detroit, Mich., “Duties and Possibilities,” (New York, NY: The American Missionary Association, 1902), 189.


[2]Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Acts, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990), 555. Database © 2008 WORDsearch Corp.


[3]Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992), 271. Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.


[4]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament, Volume 1, (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2001), 463-464.


[5]Adrian Rogers, “God is in Control,” Love Worth Finding Ministries, Daily Devotionals, Thursday, December 17, 2009, Accessed 11/28/14, http://www.elsitiocristiano.com/ministries/love-worth-finding/read/devotionals/love-worth-finding/love-worth-finding-december-17-11623794-11623794.html .


[6]Record of Christian Work, ed. W. R. Moody, Vol. XVIII, 1899, (Chicago, IL: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1899), 333.


[7]Goodreads, Corrie Ten Boom, Quotes, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/741391-life-is-but-a-weaving-the-tapestry-poem-my-life .


[8]Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, gen. ed. Trent C. Butler, “God,” (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 1998). Database © 2014 Wordsearch.


[9]Holman Old Testament Commentary, gen. ed. Max Anders, Ecclesiastes, Song of Song, David George Moore and Daniel L. Akin, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 105. Database © 2013 WORDsearch.

[10]Albert Barnes, Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Acts of the Apostles, Tenth Edition, (New York, NY: Harper & Brothers, 1841), 219.


[11]Frederic Morell Holmes, Faith’s Father: A Story of Child-Life in London Bye-Ways, (New York, NY: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., 1880), 120-122.


[12]Sermon Outlines on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Comp. Al Bryant, “The Shaping of a Disciple,” by Dale Martin Stone, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 29.


Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on Amazon.com in hardcover, paperback and eBook]

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Miss-Revival-Spiritual-Awakening/dp/1462735428 & http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684 / fkirksey@bellsouth.net / (251) 626-6210

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