Acts 11: 1-18

Written by kathleen on Jun 14, 2015 in - No Comments

Acts 11: 1-18

Who Gets the Last Word?




How do we keep conflicts from destroying our relationships personally or in the church?  By allowing God to have the last word! Then Recognizing, submitting to, and obeying what He says!

In Chapter 11 the world population was divided into two groups: Jews and Gentiles. In God’s economy, the Jews were to be a testimony to the Gentiles of how to live and in whom to believe in (Isaiah 42:6).

But something happened over the years.

Instead of seeing themselves as a light unto the Gentiles, the Jews saw Gentiles as despicable, grotesque, and to be avoided at all costs.

With this in mind, imagine what a shock it must have been to Jewish Christians when they heard that Peter had the audacity to go into the house of Cornelius—a Gentile—and actually share a meal with him.

The Jews believed they were following Gods’ plan to set up his kingdom. Therefore Peter’s actions were wrong. These Jewish believers were those who held to the Law of Moses and they believed God’s message was to the Jew first. And when Jerusalem fully believed the nation of Israel would receive the Messiah and then He would return to earth to take his throne. Because of this there is a conflict between Jewish Believers and Peter

The problem with this thinking was it misunderstood Gods’ Plan.

Jesus’ commands were not only to begin in Jerusalem, but to extend  the whole world as in: Acts 1:8 you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth The Jewish believers thought they had the corner on God’s plan. But in essence their view of God was in a box. Peter’s experience with Cornelius takes the Jewish believer’s thinking and dumps it out of their box! So they had to get out of their box in their thinking and change! Let’s look at how a conflict arose in the early church.

1 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

The greatness of the work among the Gentiles in Caesarea could not be kept hidden. Besides, there was no desire to hide it, even though many Jewish Christians (those of the circumcision) would be confused and offended but look what happened:

V.1. They caught wind of the news V.2. They criticized the person who led this new movement and they didn’t rejoice over the event. V.3. They started a conflict that had the potential of causing Northern Christians and southern Christians to divide their relationships. Prov 6:16-19 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.

4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. 6 When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’     9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.

I. WE KEEP CONFLICTS FROM SPLITTING RELATIONSHIPS BY BECOMING INTIMATE WITH GOD Notice how Peter responds in v.4. This isn’t the same man we knew from the gospels accounts. Peter has learned the lesson of thinking before opening his mouth. He’s learned the principle from Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Peter told what happened to him, giving it a reality and detailed description by emphasizing the sheet and the various animals on the sheet. Although Peter does not use the word, “God,” as he mentions a voice he heard from heaven; it is a clear indication it was the voice of God.

Next, Peter relates to his audience by repeating his objection to the voice’s directions to kill and eat such animals, both clean and unclean; and how this voice told him, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Peter then said, this all occurred three times and then the sheet was taken up into heaven.

All this occurred, because Peter was becoming more intimate with the Lord, he was growing as a follower of Christ. He was opening his life to the Lord and understanding more of God’s plan for the church along with a greater purpose for his existence. As church leadership we have been praying for God to show us what He would like us to do as a church in this community. But this week, it has struck me that God isn’t so much concerned about telling me what to do as he is interested in knowing, do I want to know him, more than I do now? That is the key to knowing our purpose as individuals and as a church.

Do you ever find yourself drifting in a spiritual ocean wondering what God’s purpose for your life is?

Do you find yourself frustrated that everything you attempt to do for God appears to fail?

That’s where intimacy with God comes in; it is the way to allow God to have the last word in your life. With prayer and His word will be the avenue through which you will find God’s purpose. Once you begin to see God move in a direction, you just need to become alert. Watch how Peter became alert to God’s purpose for him in verses 11-15.

What we will learn is;  II. WE WILL KEEP CONFLICTS FROM SPLITTING RELATIONSHIPS AND THE CHURCH BY FOLLOWING THE LEADING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (11-15) 11 At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.

Peter picks up his experience and says at this moment, three men came to the house where he was staying. Peter relates how the Spirit told him to go with these men without any questions or excuses!

Peter, then pointing to the six other Jews (as witnesses) who went with him, relates what happened next. When they went into Cornelius’ house, he told Peter how an angel told him to go to Joppa and send for a man named Peter who would tell him how to be saved. Finally, Peter recalls what happened when he began to speak the gospel to the household of Cornelius.

Something special about this verse and the events inside of Cornelius’ house is the Holy Spirit began moving and working as Peter responded

And then related the parallel between what occurred to them in Jerusalem and what had occurred to Cornelius’ household in Caesarea. He linked them together, saying, “the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as (literally) upon us at the beginning.”

Beginning of what? The beginning of the church in Acts 2 and what occurred to them concerning the Holy Spirit.

In other words, Gentiles are part of God’s plan. Can you imagine the impact in the hearts of these Jewish believers? The Gentiles were not circumcised. They didn’t follow Jewish customs

They didn’t mention Moses or the ten commandments nor did they say a prayer. The room must have silenced as Peter spoke that day. The Holy Spirit can and will work like this today when we come together prepared and watching & waiting for His movement!

The question now becomes are we growing more intimate with God so we can recognize the movement of His Spirit?

And if we are; then are we joining the Spirit in his work? Or are we content to remain in our box, because that’s where we are comfortable?  When you’re dealing with people who live in a box like Peter was; they may be able to corner you on your experience, but when you   begin to share with them how you were obeying the word of God and now the Spirit of God was giving you the ability to perform what ever the circumstance; that puts a whole new perspective in their minds. It’s difficult to argue with that, unless they want to deny your experience. But there is still one more thing you can do in order to prevent further conflicts. III. WE WILL KEEP CONFLICTS FROM SPLITTING A RELATIONSHIP OR THE CHURCH BY SUBMITTING TO THE WORD OF GOD (16-18)  

16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?

 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.

After Peter recounted the events that led to the Holy Spirit, he recites a verse from the Lord Jesus V.16.

Notice the chain of events. Peter remembered; he reasoned; the conflict was resolved.

Now let’s look at this pattern more closely. 1st.  Peter remembered  what the Lord had said just before the Lord ascended into heaven.

Question: what is the difference between John’s Baptism and being baptized by the Holy Spirit?

John’s baptism was a baptism of preparation – preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah.

The Holy Spirit’s baptism was a baptism of empowerment for works   of the ministry by those who have placed their faith in Christ.

So Peter remembered the word of the Lord.

The second thing he did was he reasoned in v.17. Peter saw the same occurrence of the Holy Spirit happen in Cornelius household as it did in Jerusalem,. So, Peter did the only intelligent thing: he got out of the way and allowed God to do what he was doing. The third thing that occurred was the conflict was resolved in v.18. They began to praise and glorify God, admitting and submitting to God’s ways “… God had granted to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.” After hearing Peter’s account, they quieted down – literally, they became silent. They shut up. They closed their mouths and the conflict was resolved, because they allowed God to have the last word. God’s stamp of approval was on this ministry to the Gentiles.

And your conflicts will be resolved as well, when you allow God to have the last word.

Peter didn’t go to Cornelius because he fully grasped God’s program  to reach the world; he went to Cornelius’ home out of obedience to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. The result being Peter’s life was impacted and changed forever but so was the entire world!

The hearts of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were soft enough to   be guided by God.

It is an awesome thing when God’s people will allow their prejudices and traditions or personal desires to be overcome by God’s Spirit founded in God’s Word and allow God to work.

This will happen in our own lives and relationships as we grow in intimacy with Jesus.

Prov. 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

 That allows God to have the last word!