Thursday, April 12, 2012

Acts 11:4-18

Summary retelling of Acts 11:4-18

In this long section of text, Peter recounts his experience with Cornelius.  We have a new detail in that we now know that there were six Christians that went with Peter to see Cornelius (and give witness to what happened).  At the end, we also get a glimpse into Peter’s thought process as he ties in the teaching for Jesus about baptizing people in the Holy Spirit.  Then Peter asks a great question to those who are criticizing them: if God has acted upon them and is making the same spirit in them that He made in the disciples, who is Peter to get in the way?  The criticism stopped, and it turned into giving God the glory.  At this point it seems like the Christian community in Jerusalem is going to be accepting of the inclusion of the Gentiles.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Okay, forgive the length of the reading.  But it was mostly review, so it seemed like we should be able to take it in one big chunk.  Otherwise, I’d just be repeating myself from the last chapter.  So … let’s talk about something new.

Peter ties in the teaching of Jesus.  True Christians will go out and will participate in Jesus Christ baptizing others in the Holy Spirit.  True Christians will receive the Holy Spirit within them.  It is a promise from Jesus.  Actually, the reception of the Holy Spirit is the “guarantee” (or proof) of salvation.  How do we know that we are saved?  We have received the Holy Spirit.  [See Ephesians 1:13-14 and 2 Corinthians1:21-22]

I’ve asked this before, but it is a fundamental question.  T is such an important question.  Have you received the Holy Spirit?  How do you know?

To those readers who have been on a mission trip with Youthworks: Think back to the end of the week - the footwashing ceremony.  Do you think the Holy Spirit had any kind of a role in that service?  How do you know?

Second Thought:
Peter comes before the leaders and recounts the story having six witnesses who can confirm what Peter is telling them.  It is important to support one another in work so that we don’t leave people having to be the lone witness.  When there are multiple witnesses, it is harder for a group of people to refute God’s work.

Are there people in your life that you know who are forced to do too much of God’s work all on their own?  How can you come alongside of them and help them do God’s work together so they aren’t alone and so that God’s witness can be proclaimed by more than one witness?  Are you doing this already?  If so, in what ways?

Third Thought:
The leaders in Jerusalem change their mind on Peter and begin to praise God.  Don’t breeze past that point so quickly.  They change.  They change their mind.  This is what it means to be following God.  Although they are the leaders of the Christian community, they change their mind in the face of evidence of God’s work.

How does this point go back to making sure that we are open about following God rather than asserting ourselves?  In what sense does this point go back to the difference between being a disciple of Jesus Christ and being a self-monger?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 11:19-22
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