Acts 11_1-18 - Prepare To Be Challenged
Prepare To Be Challenged
1. God was moving the emphasis from Israel the church.
2. Gentiles had now heard the gospel and received the Holy Spirit.
3. God showed this Jews this was His handy work (Acts 9:44-47)
a. Note verse15:
b. It is interesting that Peter had to go all the way back to Pentecost to find an example of what happened in the home of Cornelius!
c. This suggests that a dramatic “baptism of the Spirit” (Acts 11:16), accompanied by speaking in tongues, was not an everyday occurrence in the early church.
d. Peter could not use the experience of the Samaritans as his example, because the Samaritans received the gift of the Spirit through the laying on of the Apostles’ hands (Acts 8:14-17 "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.").
e. Cornelius and his household received the Spirit the moment they trusted Christ.
f. This is the pattern for today.
4. They did not have the Pauline epistles.
5. Keep in mind that the Jerusalem church’s problem is not prejudice but rather a misunderstanding of the purposes of God.
a. The OT understanding of God’s program was that of an earthly kingdom which would bless the Gentiles through the reign of Israel’s Messiah.
b. But the nation had rejected Christ and His kingdom; did this mean that the Gentiles could not be saved?
c. Must they first become Jewish proselytes?
d. Peter’s experience at Caesarea (Acts 10) and Paul’s revelation of “the mystery of the church” (Ephesians 3) helped to answer these questions.
e. Both experiences proved that both Jew and Gentile stand condemned before God and can be saved only through faith in Jesus Christ.
6. These men challenged Peter, but he stood strong
How do we stand strong when facing challenges in the ministry?
1. Know Who called you (12,16-17)
a. Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
b. Men, even those who love the Lord, can give you bad advice.
c. God’s word and God’s Holy Spirit lead us.
d. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 "Quench not the Spirit."
e. Seeking God’s face and direction gives us direction and confidence.
f. It’s not just “the word”, it’s God’s word.
i. It is authoritative because of its origin
1. God is the creator.
2. God is the Holy One.
3. God is unchangeable.
4. God cannot lie.
5. God is the Judge and the final authority.
g. Peter remembered the words of Jesus. (16)
h. This settled it for Peter and for the church at that moment.
i. God’s Spirit and God’s word are greater than our opposition and doubts.
j. Alexander Duff, the foreign missionary from Scotland, got off to a rough start. He was young, only twenty-three, and bright and innovative. But on his way to India in 1829 with his new wife, he was shipwrecked—not once but twice! The most serious wreck occurred when his ship, the Lady Holland, was within a few miles of India.
k. At ten o’clock P.M., Duff was half-undressed when a shock and shudder ran through the vessel. He rushed to the deck where the captain met him with terrifying words, “Oh, she’s gone! She’s gone!” The ship split apart, but a portion clung precariously to a reef. Through the night the passengers huddled in terror in the surviving portion, expecting every moment to be swept away. They were saved the next day, but their clothes and prized possessions were lost, including Duff’s entire library of eight hundred volumes.
l. Later, standing on the shore and looking sadly toward the reef, Duff saw a small package bobbing atop the water. He watched and waited as it floated close enough for him to wade out and retrieve.
m. It was his Bible. Of all his precious books, it alone survived. His heart soared, for he took it as a sign from the Lord that this one book alone was worth more than all the others put together.
n. He assembled his fellow survivors and read Psalm 107, the Traveler’s Psalm. Psalm 107:1-2 "O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;"; 23-31 "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!"
o. Soon, using the same Bible, he began his first class with a little group of five boys under a banyan tree. Within a week the class had grown to three hundred, and it soon became a school that evangelized and educated the higher classes in India, producing a qualified generation of leaders for the nation’s young church.
p. God’s word speaks peace and gives courage.
q. Paul: Acts 27:22-25 "And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me."
2. Know your mandate (12)
a. Peter had firm witnesses:
i. Vision from God
ii. The Holy Ghost (15)
iii. The word of God (16)
b. Is it all right to target specific people groups? (19)
c. We need to reach who we can.
d. Jesus met people’s needs and used it as opportunities to reach them.
i. Woman at the well.
ii. Feeding the people.
iv. Acts 10:38 "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him."
v. People are suffering. They want someone to care.
vi. Think outside of these four walls.
e. What needs can you help meet of others? Can this be used as an opportunity to reach them?
f. We know the mandate that God has given to the church. Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
g. William Borden: No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.
3. Give others what was given you (4-10)
a. “What God hath cleansed” (9)
b. God made the truth clear to Peter
c. Peter had them contend with him. (2)
d. Don’t be surprised when there is opposition to God’s work.
e. Some do not understand God’s program.
f. Even some who love God.
g. Some don’t care about God’s program…if it’s different than theirs.
i. Jesus faced opposition over doing good on the Sabbath.
ii. Matthew 12:11-14 "And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him."
iii. Mark 2:27-28 "And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
h. This did not end the matter.
i. Acts 15:1-2 "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question."
ii. Galatians 2:12 "For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision."
iii. Peer pressure.
i. Note: the church did not look at Peter as the pope.
i. They did not view him as perfect
ii. Peter did not look to the church as the final authority.
iii. He looked to the Scripture and the Spirit.
j. Peter is now trying to communicate God’s truth to the brethren.
k. No difference: This was a battle over the eternal souls of men!
l. Romans 10:11-13 "For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
m. (17) God made no difference, so how could he?
n. The result was that the believers were edified and God was glorified. Acts 11:18 "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."