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August 25, 2020 8:00 am
Actions have consequences when Peter went to the Gentile centurion Cornelius and brought him the truth.
Peter didn't require Cornelius to become an Israelite.
Instead Peter ate with the unclean Gentiles. Now Peter returns to the church of Jerusalem and is questioned about his behavior.
You're listening to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. There are times were called to do things which just don't make sense.
We'll see how God called Peter to do something which seemed to contradict his understanding of the Old Testament. Open your Bible to acts chapter 11 and let's listen to Dr. Boyce were in the 11th chapter of acts, but although we are starting a new chapter were continuing the same old story story is the one that began in chapter 10 with the call of Cornelius Sue Peter, and explain the gospel to them pointed out in our earlier studies, in anticipation of what were going to find in this chapter.
This is obviously a matter of great importance in the mind of the author of this history. Luke they companion of the apostle Paul because he tells the story three times and because Luke is an apostle because he is being led by the Holy Spirit as he writes this book. This is obviously also something that's very important in the mind of God. Whenever God tells us something once. We should listen tells us something twice.
We should double our efforts to pay attention. What if he tells us three times when he says, as he does in Scripture three times over. There is none doing good, no not one person on that understand where none that seek after God, there is none that do with good, no not one and two of the Psalms in the book of Romans will obviously that is very very important, and in the same way here in these chapters.
When Luke led by the Holy Spirit tells us of this calling Peter to go with Gentile home and explain the gospel to Gentiles. As a result of that Holy Spirit comes upon them blesses them so the received into the church without first of all, becoming Jews, obviously that is something of great import. We have a story once in acts 10, we have it so second time within the same chapter as Peter recounts what happened to Cornelius and then we have 1/3 time here in acts 11 as Peter goes back to the church in Jerusalem and has to explain his actions.
We have here is a major breakthrough because this is not happened church of Jesus Christ would not be universal missionary effective powerful church that it itself to be down through the centuries of church history. It would be a limited ethnic thing as Judaism was in the time of Christ. Now we began to look at the problem a bit, and it's important to see that perhaps even to review it because it lies behind the problems of race in this chapter Peter undoubtedly expected them. He understood the thinking of the Jews recognize that prejudices that he had in his own heart. And yet he was an apostle, he was being led by the spirit I think is some of the commentators suggest that he went to Cornelius's house reluctantly and that I was true.
Peter the apostle had a special revelation recognize God's hand feed recognize those difficulties in himself. Certainly he was well aware of the difficulties that were awaiting him when he got back to Jerusalem, he took six brother with them and probably it was for that reason, he wanted to have witnesses that could explain what happened and he was very wise to have done that. At any rate, he did have a problem that was that the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem just didn't understand how it was possible Joe on whatever grounds it all could go into the house of the unclean, uncircumcised, Gentile, and sit down and have fellowship with them.
Around the same table eating nonkosher food. I pointed out that that is prejudice of a certain kind begin with. It was in the case of the Jews, saying that God could never save Gentiles they know better than that God wasn't saving a lot of Gentiles and many periods of Jewish history. We don't always know that, but certainly he did and they knew it. The great stories of the Old Testament involved Gentiles who came into the fellowship of the people of Israel and the congregation of the Lord and were saved.
In some cases even entering into the family tree unless becoming ancestors of the Lord Jesus Christ Rahab the harlot of Jericho was one of the roof. The Moabitess was another show on the Jews understood those stories is that it wasn't a question of Gentiles becoming saying they could become slaves, but what the Jews understood is that they had to become Jews.
First of all, of any rate they had to go through certain rights that recognize store opens for them a place within the dominant fellowship of God's people, so it was prejudice but it was a prejudice of a certain kind of moreover it was prejudice. It could be that based upon their understanding of the Scriptures and their understanding of the Scriptures was all wrong.
They had been given the Old Testament and the Old Testament contain certain strict regulations for their conduct is a national group of people were clean and unclean foods at this explain very clearly in the book of Leviticus in the 11th chapter. There were certain rights they had to perform. Circumcision was one of them certain kinds of purification is over certain kinds of cooking that they had to do as a person.
A law that says that your doctor cook a kid in its mother's milk out of that one single regulation there grew up the whole system of kosher cooking which is practiced today where Orthodox households once the debug kosher kitchen to complete sets of dishes, one for milk dishes and one for others, and under no circumstances can you mix those two well that was in a certain sense grounded in law we recognize as we look back on it today that were distortions involved. Certainly, the law did not require that kind of rigor and what is going to be notice kosher cooking but do have a base in the law. There were Jews who had been trained in this and were very punctilious in their observance of all these things I said it was a prejudice against Gentiles and a strong prejudice but it was nevertheless prejudice of a very special kind yet though it had some justification like it referred to Scripture verses say as they undoubtedly did all we want to be as faithful to Moses in the law late nevertheless had a prejudice that needed to be overcome. This is what the Holy Spirit was doing in this incident. Holy Spirit was showing but from this time on members of the church were to become members of the church, the people of God by faith in Jesus Christ alone and that it was not necessary for them to go through any of the requirements that are necessary to become members of the house of Israel did not have to be circumcised.
I did not have to keep kosher house they did not have to observe the eating of cleaning the refusal to eat unclean foods. Moreover, the Jews were now Christians are to have fellowship with these Gentiles who had not become Jews.
But you believe in Jesus, they were to do it in order that there might be, one church, not to churches, which is obviously what happened.
Otherwise sometimes in my reading I come across a particularly good statement of the significance of something I did find out in like blocks little book on acts. I don't think he's overstating the change that took place in the mind of the Jews when he says this required a major readjustment of all thinking for a people fiercely conscious of racial privilege and start anew by the thought that the Messiah promised had appeared and spoken readily to abandon the flock that a unique national destiny approach fulfillment except a reinterpretation of ancient prophecies to admit as spiritual rendering old promises accepted and cherished as literal and material deceit Israel melt into the church and they minority of the chosen lose identity privilege and special place of a global organization called for insight, faith, self abnegation, magnanimity, and a transcendent view of God rarely found in any but the most enlightened souls.
I say that's not overstating the problem at yet was a problem, the need to be addressed and hence the Holy Spirit's effort to do it through the apostle Peter say when they are got back to Jerusalem and the brother in Jerusalem who had heard about what had happened in Caesarea approached him and expressed their objection. They did not say it is not rights.
Gentiles can be Christians because of course I knew better than that was right was quite proper in the Lord had sent the middle of the world with the gospel. But what they object to is what you find in verse three. I said to Peter Monts you preach to Gentiles, that it happened at Pentecost or Gentiles became Christians because it was no objection to that, but rather you went into the house of circumcised men and ate with them so you broke kosher and sat down around the same table. These unclean Gentiles.
That was the thing that really bother them because it could be done in a mentor Gentiles could come into the church as equals with the Jews without having become Jews in the first place.
That's where the prejudice line. Now suppose that had gone unchallenged. Suppose the gospel had been presented as it was presented Samaria Samaritans believed to Bill Ethiopia and the Ethiopian believed and supposed to be a God Hallman and let others to the Lord and people to become Christians in Caesarea and Antioch. All the cities of Turkey and eventually Rome supposes polymer not been overcome and the results well. As I indicated a moment ago that would've been to churches as you see the one place where Christians really do gather around together is the Lord's supper say that's a supper may be supper that we observe somewhat stylized way today but in the early church was a supper among other things, and that meant you see Jews and Gentiles. If they were to be one church responding the invitation of one common Lord had to sit down together around the table and if the Gentiles came without being Jews first friend that meant ritual impurity and on cleanness of the Jews. So if the polymer not been overcome what would've happened is that you had to churches. You would have a Jewish church and had a Gentile church of the unity of the body of Christ would have been destroyed from the very beginning I we don't have exactly that same problem today, but we do habits of sorts, and it's worth mentioning upfront because we want to see how Peter dealt with it, but we have to acknowledge upfront that there is very often the kind of mentality within the church. We don't say that we want to say no were not prejudice but what we generally mean when we have a church that were proud of this composed largely people like ourselves is that we're glad to have other people come and join us as long as they become like us have become like us in doctrine.
When a liberal is coming in sitting here where conservative or, conversely, if were liberals. I think they're liberal but they don't want to leave fundamentalists there messing things up or were not against charismatics as long as they don't carry on their charismatic behavior in our congregation and perhaps it works the other way around door. We're glad to have Blacks join white congregation as long as they don't act to black. Maybe the Blacks. I think they have much more understanding and are much more adaptable than we whites are at this point course because it had to be authority, but they might on their part say the same thing you know it regret whites joy… As long as you kind of get in the way we do things to see. The point is made here is that God takes people as they are and they do not have to become something else before they come to Jesus. I would maybe in certain areas that we are going to desire and work the kind of melding of the way we do things. Certainly, that ought to be true in our theology. We have differences in theology.
It's not because both are valid.
Generally, one of us has the truth better than the other way you want to come together on that if we can, but not in all things, not in matters of style normal have to be like, certainly not matters of church organization.
I don't find in the Bible has to be one particular church organization or any of those things have to learn to understand the God is working in a great variety of people on the one matters is the relationship, the individual has to Jesus Christ let's watch God was out to teach these Jewish Christians and he did it through Peter.
Now it's interesting to note how Peter handed this beer is apostle and I suppose Peter could've said perhaps rightfully I am apostle God speaks to me.
God told me it was all right and it is all right you like it you can just leave my church some branches of the church would say was the first pope and therefore had a right to pronounce on things ex cathedra, Peter didn't do that.
Peter begins and what is obviously a very humble recitation of what's happened plays a lot as we would say the text make that very clear that effect in the Greek it's unclear Peter began implies. Peter began at the beginning of verse four and he explained everything to them precisely very strong word precisely as it happened, anybody questioned his particular presentation of the facts. Well, there were the six brother there that had gone up within the Caesarea good site undoubtedly did say yes it is exactly the way Peter says Zoe began to rehearse the facts now this is a lesson in God's leading nine we say how does God delete how you know the will of God. You know what you should do this or do that. Some people say you can't know all you can know is what God says in Scripture. People say well yes you could know you just have intimations of what you should do some people even say God spoke to me and said how do you get deleting my different views on that here.
Notice how Peter was led how he sums it up, as these are the elements.
First of all, he begins to recount the story says verse five.
I was in the city of Joppa praying that's important beginning point is, Peter was praying was in the frame of mind which he was seeking will of God. That is a good preface to what Peter is going to say next because it wasn't a case you say of Peter simply getting an ocean into his head that it might be high time now. If the gospel is going to move on to expand in a great way that he should go to Gentiles and say that isn't even talking terms of circumstances says if he were, say, well, just seems to be an appropriate time, nor was he caught off guard, as if that were the case that these people came down to see them from Caesarea and thinking about a very but also nearly word on the spur of the moment. Good thing how to say no. So we had to say yes and he went along with them in case of that Peter said I was praying and seeking the will of God, and it was while I was in that frame of mind seeking God's will that God began to lead in this great matter.
Some years ago when I first came to 10th church. I listened to a tape by Donna Ray Barnhouse on how to know the will of God he made a point in that particular message that God leads in three ways. When you get all three of these things in line then you can be sure that's the direction God is leading. First of all, he said you have to be willing to do the will of God.
Even before you know what it is. I thought that's very important. God doesn't give you options relates to your ready when you're ready, and he tells you what he wants you to do is I was number one. Secondly, said this is the most important of the three has to be in terms of Scripture never leads contrary to Scripture, is why we have to be men and women of the book know what we have to understand the principles.
Many said thirdly you have to be waiting upon God regularly and at times even hourly.
Refer to Psalm 32 verse eight, which in the King James version says he will guide me with is by so you have to look to him to catches you want to guide you with that was Barnhouse's point, now it's the third of those three points that Peter mentions first it was Peter praying trying as it were, to catch the eye of God see the way in which God should lead and that was while he was in that frame of mind. The God did directed. Secondly, Peter received a revelation in his case it was this vision of the great sheet that was led down from heaven with all the animals and some of them clean. Some of them unclean, no doubt very animals that are mentioned in the 11th chapter of Leviticus when he heard a voice taken each replied no. Lord I can't do that because I am kosher and I've never done it all my life. God said to him what I have called clean don't you call unclean and it was repeated three times now I was a revelation about food, among other things, Peter would've picked that up. And although it goes on to talk about people which is the crucial thing did lease mean that and he should know that because Jesus one occasion when he was asked about this kind of defilement for beating unclean foods that it's not what goes into your mouth that defiles a man is what comes out because it's out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. So if you're speaking bad things. It's good you have unclean apartment. That's what's important. You need to clean heart. Only God completed up and that's what he was talking about.
So Peter and Lisa should've learned from this that the age of kosher food was passed, God was doing something else now, but more importantly than that he was talking about people. The same sort of thinking that Peter had that frame of mind, by which the proceeding was now to be changed and be changed in a way that would also determine how we approached other people wasn't assigned as Jews of his day 70s Jews in Jerusalem still wanted to say well we Jews are clean those Gentiles are unclean to say that because this was the time in history. At this moment when God was declaring on Peter, the apostles collected in the body, but God was declaring these Gentiles are not unclean and I'm going to send you to bring in the gospel and so God gave in that revelation I would expect a revelation like that today. I have friends who were strong in the reformed faith or deny even the possibility of that kind of revelation they do it on the grounds that God gave special revelations and miracles of other such things at a time when scriptures were given that the miracles revelations were given to authenticate the messengers spokesman for God when they did speak and record these things and we have them in the Scriptures that all of those phenomena ceased. I think that's true. At least I'm not willing to say categorically that God can't do those things you willing to say categorically that God can ever do a miracle that I am not.
I think many of the things that pass for miracles aren't miracles are skeptical about them and I think I have a right to be skeptical about them, but nevertheless it's not the same thing to say you can do the more he doesn't do them at the same way with visions. I wouldn't say categorically God can give a person a vision. I don't know of anyone whom I would say has actually had one on the is authentic, and that they could say well or on any doubt this is what God gave me this is direction is leading. Although I know other people who claim that but nevertheless I will say categorically that can happen, but the point I want to make you see is that it does happen, it happens very rarely.
On the way God does guide us today is my word.
So what you have here you say in these first two things Peter talks about Peter praying on the roof in the middle of the day, and God giving them a revelation is exactly parallel to what we have in our times of prayer and Bible study. We pray, we open our hearts to God and asked for his leading study his word we see what he says and we wait upon God to take that word, and the personal way by the power of his spirit, apply it directly to our hearts so Peter you say is the defenses action before the Jerusalem Council was not saying anything very different from what we should be able to say if someone says DOS well why you done so and so we should be able to begin by saying what we prayed about it, search the Scriptures we believe this is what God teaches and applies to me in this way.
Now the third element is circumstantial circumstances.
As Peter points out that that was while he was praying immediately after it received the vision suddenly these men from the house of party leaders were at the door. Now think of the timing of that God is the God of circumstances, we sometimes I'll just as mere circumstance just happened that way. God is the God of circumstances of the world he rules. We may not always see the purpose and circumstances. God does have a purpose.
When these things happen and there were these three men think what would've happened if these three men had come in our earlier three-day journey.
Could've probably gotten there an hour to so why if they had Simon do Simon the tanner said I'm coming here Joy shouts you get going here and come in here you contaminated sites and why was a come a day later, so I do speculate on what might've happened if they come a day later, but I can imagine a day later, the force of the vision might have begun to fade just a little bit from Peter's mind. Peter might've found himself saying, well you know maybe I just ate something bad for breakfast that I got had a strange elucidation there while I was up on the roof of the heat of the day and that get those Gentiles out of here. I don't get in trouble with my brother to Jerusalem now that I haven't exactly after the vision come three times here were three men to recognize the hand of God in the circumstances. Now notice the order.
First of all, he had been praying. Secondly, it had the equivalent of what we would call Bible study and it was after that that the circumstances fell in the place sometimes in the Christian life we want to depend on circumstances and I know people talk about the leading God in those terms.
I say well you know fell out this way, God must about it that way. Well, you know you can read circumstances in different ways and sometimes things come into our lives we say well there circumstantial leading, but we have a way of interpreting it to make it what we wanted to be say it's not safe to do that unless you have first of all, been praying about studying the Bible and then when circumstances come along informed what you feel God is leading when they link up then you say well now it does seem that this is confirmation of what God is doing in my life. And so the 3rd Pl., Peter mentioned that, fourth-place. He brought along the others had six of them and undoubtedly one of them there as witnesses. The Old Testament law.
This is a point that shows how seriously he took this how seriously recognize the problem was the Old Testament law required two or three witnesses for everything Peter figured well safe.
I need at least three to be doubly safe and have sex. And so he brought on six of say that there's a valuable thing talking about the will of God. You know when we talk about the call to the Christian ministry. We talk about a call in a number of ways, the individual has to have a sense of call, you can tell somebody else what the will of God is for them. They have to have so we speak about an internal call sense of call we speak. Secondly, of confirmation by gifts somebody says well I called to be a preacher but they're so shy and stammering the can even speak you say well you know brother maybe you should rethink that it doesn't seem like God is giving you the gifts that are necessary for that particular calling. So is confirmation by gifts or circumstances.
Circumstantial type things. Then, the church also talked about something else. It talks about the confirmation of the sense of call by the will of the Presbytery is what ordination is all about why the minister goes through the kind of trials and tests that are necessary before is approved for ordination must be a sense that this is not just a sense of individual call that's important necessary but somehow it's confirmed by the other members of the congregation leadership that are concerned about this and are praying through it with the individual. Peter got up there and if Peter had been the only one who saw it that way. Then Peter should probably have said well I better think this through. Again wasn't that way. Six of the brothers with them.
They also thought the same way and so the value of this kind of United confirmation thing I noticed is that when he got there he found the ground, prepared again that circumstantial, but it meant something to Peter because he talks about about how they were ready, willing and waiting to hear the message that he brought they want to hear the message of salvation. That's what the angel had told them the angel you see, had plowed the ground so when Peter got there and began to do what he believed. Now God was leading them to know he had confirmation in the hearts of those to whom he spoke doesn't mean, of course, that he had gone and he hadn't had a hearing. Therefore, he wasn't led by God. Sometimes God leads us extremely difficult situation. Sometimes missionaries in difficult areas of the world run up against database but years and years and years before they see initial convert to the faith, making this because you difficulty the God is leading. But when you arrive you find that the ground is prepared.
That's obviously great confirmation of God's leading and certainly Peter was rejoicing and that Peter know in Jerusalem.
The difficulty that he and the others that had been, they were trying to preach the gospel to hearts were unprepared. They were preaching the gospel to close like the members of the Sanhedrin that were dead set against Jesus of Nazareth of his ways. Well was difficult indeed and they not only reject them even beat them up because they were so angry at what they were doing. Peter did it was Clark but here when he came to the household of Cornelius and found them all waiting and ready figured, well, that was confirmation of a major order of the notice.
Also in the six position.
The results when the began to preach to them.
Not only heard it. God bless the message they believed God showed her acceptance by sending the Holy Spirit demonstrating the coming of the Holy Spirit by the fact that these Gentile brothers began speak in tongues exactly has the apostles of Don in Jerusalem. Once ago on the day of Pentecost was the important thing to say their experience there in Caesarea was exactly the same as experience of the very disciples of Jesus Christ.
Jerusalem and the earliest days of indifference.
Peter might've said well God's blessing, but in a different way unless he might've said well yes, God's saving them, but they're obviously going to be a lower order within the church of Christ didn't do that was very impressed with the Holy Spirit came upon them, I would suppose solo doesn't spell out the detail. Even with the sound of a rushing mighty wind, and maybe even the tongues of flame from Pentecost. At any rate, experience of speaking in tongues and in this case because it refers back to Pentecost must mean that they spoke another language is just as happened Pentecost that that was sufficient in Peter's mind to convince them that God accepted these Gentiles without any qualification whatsoever, so he said to brethren with their six Jews would come up with them from dropouts or any reason why we shouldn't baptize these gods accepted them by one of those. So were there in the presence of this powerful outpouring of the Spirit of God at the audacity to say well they are circumcised. Let's wait and get that over with and then they can be baptized as he got it already accepted about the rite of circumcision. Then notice a given six things. Here's the seventh Peter gets to the end of this, he says then I remembered verse 16 of the Lord said, John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit of the words he began with Scripture and I was ending Scripture and led by Scripture as he prayed over it and had been confirmed in his decision by the circumstances of the prepared hearts. The result of blessing that God gave the men when it was all over what happened leading back to Scripture. He said all yes and it's just what Jesus was saying.
When asked the question, where is Jesus said that the Gospels but sure you'll find it anywhere you find it word for word. That's right at the beginning of the book of acts because it was part of what Jesus said to their those days between the resurrection and his ascension into heaven. Verse five John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Peter didn't have the Bible as we have it is only in the process becoming to be written, but these were the things they heard these words Jesus spoke late came in the Scripture later and that's always thinking of us. The way we should think.
While the results were good. Verse 18 when I heard this, and no further objections might praise God saying so then God is even granted to Gentiles repentance on the life those two things about that. First of all, they were convinced convinced on their minds that this was a God did or didn't try to roll over them by virtue of his authority or just bypass the kind of question the slave might've had he dealt with them, explain the situation and they were intellectually convinced them because they were convinced they praise God, because although it might not of been what they had preferred and it certainly was not what they had expected was nevertheless an evidence of the working of God. God was working then God was to be placed and they didn't want to be left out and praising which the story ended and then utterly positive way, but unfortunately it didn't.
They were convinced but only for a time I reunited praising God, but not for long, because later on. The party began to grow up in this Jerusalem church said all that is mistaken you let down the barriers that way. Pretty soon the Jews are going to be coming Gentiles and start acting like the Gentiles will allow the Gentiles act. We don't want that. We have to set up the barriers we have to insist that these tiles first be circumcised coming to the law of Moses and wall the things that we been doing is Jews for centuries had to be not allowed. Acts 15,000 radical things can come up again.
Paul thought the battle again glacier churches of Galatia Asia minor, and so on a just plagued the church because prejudice dies hard and we find it very difficult to believe that God can accept other people as they are without them. First of all, becoming like us that yet he does know is a good he does because it didn't. You and I wouldn't be here.
We would have been excluded.
Jews will have the gospel we wouldn't have it, because God does not show favoritism.
We are in wherein God does not show favoritism. And that's why word and then we must not show favoritism ourselves, we must reach out to others. We must, by counter the threat when God brings into our fellowship somebody who, from our perspective just doesn't seem to fit because they fit with God and its God's judgment of the matter counts all hours spread our father teaches from the stories what it is to be open. Others teach us what it is to seek your will and find its grant for those who may be struggling as many are some great decision in their lives. They might have guidance from this leading that you gave the apostle Peter through that leading the application within their own experience. I see the way. Clearly movement and find blessing Braden Jesus, you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.
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