The Peter Process
Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began and explained it to them in order... — Acts 11:1-4
If you have been following me through the book of Acts, yesterday we discovered that for the first time, the Gospel has come to a people group known as Gentiles. This is basically everyone outside of the Jewish people. Cornelius, a Gentile unbeliever, receives a vision from God, as does Peter, a Jewish believer. And then Peter obeys, goes to Cornelius, shares the Gospel, and the Holy Spirit falls on him and everyone in his house. And thus, Peter baptizes him and everyone in his house. What is happening is God is ushering in a new season of faith for Jews and Gentiles alike.
But as Peter returns to Jerusalem, his leadership is challenged by Jewish believers. Keep in mind these are people who are born Jewish but now have made a profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. And many Jews were still in a phase of adaption, trying to understand the shift that has happened. They are learning to read the Law differently because of the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah and the coming of the Holy Spirit. This has really turned their world upside down. I am sure, at times, it was troubling to figure out how to understand all these things. And one "prerequisite" of the Law for a convert to Judaism (the old way) was for all males to be circumcised. This was required by all Jewish-born males and for non-circumcised Jewish male converts. So what is happening is a small group of new believers is challenging Peter's process about the peter process.
And imagine this — that there are a group of critics in the church vying for their position on how something should be done? That never happens, right?! This is one of the big reasons that those who are new to faith have beef with Christians. That we sometimes have this judgemental, self-righteous, critical spirit about how things should be done.
But here's the deal. Everyone is a critic. Everyone! You are, and so am I.
And I love this line in verse four. "But Peter began and explained it to them in order." And then he recounts the whole story. Peter takes some time to testify to what God did. And that it was God who ordered the Spirit to come, not him. Peter was even interrupted in the middle of his message by the falling of the Holy Spirit. And thus, they learn that God was altering the old process. The rite of passage was not physical but spiritual. It was a seal, not on our unmentionables, but a seal on the heart—a sign placed there by God.
I never thought I would see a day of division in the church like we see today. We have become critics of everything, which has developed into a spirit of criticism infesting the church. People are leaving churches in droves over things that don't matter. Yet, at the same time, I believe that some churches have lost touch with the truth and the things that really do matter. And you know what we need? We need men like Peter. Willing men eager to be obedient to God despite the discomfort. Patient men who will explain the truth to all — even to the critics. Men who are concerned about the things of God that God is concerned about. And one of these things is the Gospel. The good news about a resurrected Savior who died for all nations, and all people, for all time.
ASK THIS: What has instigated a spirit of criticism in your life?
DO THIS: Lay down your criticism today and invite God to make your heart more willing, patient, and concerned about the Gospel of Truth, and passionate for Christ.
PRAY THIS: God, I give you all the criticism stirring in my heart and soul. Make me concerned for the things of which you are concerned.
PLAY THIS: Sparrows — Cory Asbury.
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