Year 2 Day 1
Read - Acts 11v4-18
Message - Scott Woodburn
Peter had returned to Jerusalem and immediately had to defend himself. In Caesarea he had met and ate with Gentiles and now members of the circumcision party wanted answers. Had Peter gone against the Word of God? Was he guilty of leading others astray?
Peter answers every question with the truth. He had received a vision in Joppa of a sheet filled with various kinds of beasts and birds (v5-6). He had been told to get up and eat (v7) but replied negatively by saying "By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth." (v8). Peter was coming from the same theological place as those of the circumcision party. To eat unclean animals was not something Peter could or would do.
But the Lord insisted three times "What God has made clean, do not call common." (v9-10). The Lord was moving among the Gentiles and the Spirit told Peter that he was to make no distinction (v12). So the Apostle travelled to the house of Cornelius and immediately set about preaching the Gospel and miraculously the Holy Spirit fell among the Gentiles just as He had fallen upon Peter back in Jerusalem (15). For Peter it was absolutely clear that the Lord was doing a new work. He was giving the Gentiles His Holy Spirit and therefore Peter would not stand in God's way (v17).
How was Peter's report received? With silence (v18). Those who previously wanted to grill the Apostle have nothing left to say. It is clear from his wonderful report that God has granted to the Gentiles repentance that leads to life (v18b). We have been very clear throughout Acts that the Gospel cannot be stopped. Certainly not by the forces outside the church and certainly not by the forces inside.
The circumcision party were inside the church and in this instance were probably mostly well meaning. They wanted to put Peter's actions under the scrutiny of God's Word and when it was clear that God was acting they fell silent. Brothers and sisters may we never allow the traditions of the past to hinder the work of the Gospel today.
I have heard far too many stories about churches that split over issues that do not stand the scrutiny of Scripture. Church fellowships that shrink and die because buildings have become untouchable or because disputes have arisen over why the minister doesn't wear a clerical collar. May God forgive us when we make the irrelevant the essential.
The Gospel was going to the Gentiles and the work of God was not going to be stopped. Every question was silenced in Jerusalem while the cross of Christ was proclaimed in Caesarea. The empty dead traditions of man do not compare to the life giving Gospel of Jesus.
Q19 What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell? All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.