United Church of God

Acts of the Apostles: 20 - Acts 10:17-11:18

You are here

Acts of the Apostles

20 - Acts 10:17-11:18

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.65 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1020.86 MB)
MP3 Audio (31.24 MB)


Acts of the Apostles: 20 - Acts 10:17-11:18

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.65 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1020.86 MB)
MP3 Audio (31.24 MB)

In this class, we will discuss Acts 10:17 thru Acts 11:18 and continue the discussion of Peter's vision and his interaction with Cornelius. From this interaction, we will see Gentiles being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit. In chapter 11, we will see how Peter explains his actions of baptizing and how "God has granted to the Gentiles repentance to life."


All right. Welcome back to Acts. We last had Peter receiving this vision in Chapter 10. We're at verse 17 in Acts. And Peter has... We've been introduced to Cornelius the centurion up in Caesarea. Peter is down in Joppa staying at the home of Simon the Tanner. And he has this vision. I did want to make a comment a little bit more about what I'd said in a previous class about Simon the Tanner, Peter staying there, he would have been unclean. Keep in mind that he would have been unclean ceremonially, and in regard to anything that he would have wanted to do at the temple in Jerusalem.

And that would have required a washing and a sacrifice and perhaps a period of quarantine according to the Levitical law. I'm not up on all the requirements in the Levitical law for one who touched the carcass of a dead animal. But that would have been only for what he would have wanted to do had he gone into the temple, which, you know, he would have had the liberty to do that at that time. We'll see Paul going into the temple doing sacrifice later in the book of Acts.

But where he was out in Joppa, he wasn't unclean. I mean, he just went about his business. But I think it does tell us something perhaps about his mindset where he is at this particular time. But he's got one more hurdle to make to really understand what God is doing in opening salvation to all the Gentiles and to all the peoples. And that's going to be involved with his meeting here with Cornelius the centurion. So, let's look at verse 17. He's now seen this sheet let down with all these, you know, animals on it, unclean animals. And they're common, they're unclean. The dietary laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy apply here. And so this is what is being said here.

Acts 10:17-18 "While Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house and stood before the gate. And they called and they asked before whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there."

Acts 10:19-20 "While Peter thought about the vision," so he's mulling this over in his mind, "The Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are seeking you.'" Two servants and a soldier had come from Cornelius. And they were obviously led by God's Spirit to this house. And we're not given the details, they just show up there, they're at the gate, and they're making an inquiry. And Peter is told, "Arise, therefore, go down, go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them."

And so here's another reference to the Spirit and the Spirit realm. We've talked about this kind of building a case as we discuss the nature of God and Christ and the Holy Spirit, and the fundamentals of belief class, and understanding how God works. Is this a theology then for a triune third person of the Trinity, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit? It's interesting to see how commentators talk about this, the Trinity, I'm talking about, and the verses they latch onto to try to prove the Trinity. And it's a verse like this that if you would look in certain commentaries, they would say that, you know, the Spirit is the Holy Spirit. I looked this up in Thayer's lexicon, I believe it was Thayer's. The word Spirit here is Pneuma. And in Thayer's lexicon, the first entry was the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God, words to that effect. Now, they're giving that from a denominational perspective of the Trinity when the text, the word, and the context of not only the New Testament but all the Bible does not support that. It's a forced exegesis and truly then an eisegesis in that they're reading something into it. But they do that with a lot of Trinitarian verses.

I think I brought this out as we were discussing the Trinity in our opening, in our class on the topic, but it's amazing to me that to read commentators of people who know the Greek, they know the Hebrew, they know the Scriptures in terms of just being...they know the Bible, but they come at it from a denominational perspective, and they have to read Trinity into the verse like this where the Spirit is mentioned or a verse where they will find a triad of concepts or thoughts that are linked together in a sentence. "Proto-Trinitarian," they will say. And talking about the Trinity. And you read it, you just kind of, "Really? That's what you see there? That's the best you can come up with?" It's amazing to see this. But when it says here, "The Spirit said to him," as I've been pulling along and probably this is best treated in a separate discussion, but it's really showing us how God does work. He works through His Spirit. God is Spirit. And you pull so many of the scriptures together, and especially here in Acts, it's very clear that God is acting and moving through either sometimes an angel, sometimes through a vision that the Spirit of God is speaking and talking.

Now, whether it's... The question comes up, is it the Father or is it the Son? But we'll talk about that when we get to that point in the class on the nature of God. We'll talk about that in detail. But let's just say that this is the Spirit of God that tells them. It can be the Spirit of Christ, it can be the Spirit of the Father when you read Romans 8 very carefully. It is the Spirit of the Father and it's the Spirit of Christ because they are both Spirit. And we must worship God, God is Spirit, we must worship Him in Spirit and in truth, but it's not a third-person part of the Trinity.

And so let's get back into the story then here.

Acts 10:21-23 "So, Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him," verse 21, "from Cornelius and he said, 'Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?' And they said, 'Cornelius the centurion, a just man who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear words from you.' Then he invited them in and lodged with them."

And so Peter is a Jew and he brings in this Gentile contingent from Cornelius into the home of Simon the Tanner and they spend the night, on the next day, Peter went away with them and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. Some brethren. How many? Well, let's just take the command, the teaching that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, let a matter be established from the law. Okay?

So, let's say he's got two or three because, again, though it's not stated, it seems that Peter takes some brethren with him. We don't hear... They're probably from Joppa. And this is an unusual moment. Who is this Cornelius the centurion? And what's going on here? Peter knows that he needs some witnesses. He needs some people with him. All right? So, I don't want to give a whole talk about having a witness in terms of certain conversations. You should have a witness too and write things down at times. But in this case, Peter is...he's learned that things are happening, God's moving, and he doesn't want his word to be the only witness to what takes place. And so he takes a few brethren with him.

Acts 10:24 "The following day they entered Caesarea. Now, Cornelius was waiting for them, and they called together his relatives and close friends."

All right? So, again, here's the relatives, close friends. Again, some commentators say possibly up to 50 people. Even if it's half that, the house Cornelius is in is a sizable house, probably larger than, what, let's say, we do know the average person would have lived in in Judea, Israel at that particular time.

Acts 10:25-26 “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, fell down at his feet, and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up. I myself am also a man.’”

Peter didn't want to be worshiped. He knew of all people that he was not worthy of worship. You worship God. You don't worship man. Mark of humility.

Acts 10:27 “And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.”

So, again, it could have been a large enough home with a gate and maybe an outer courtyard. Even if it was a covered over, you see some of the homes you go into in Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy that have been uncovered from the volcano, the Vesuvius eruption of the first century. And there's some really nice homes that have been uncovered. And those of you that have gone there have seen these that there would have... Even interior of the home, there would have maybe been a fountain right in the center and rooms off along the side, mosaics. And they were quite nice homes. It could have been something like that that he walks into and where they come together. Notice what Peter said to him in verse 28.

Acts 10:28 "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean."

And this is the operative phrase to understand the meaning of Chapter 10. What God has cleansed, don't call common or unclean. Is it meats and foods or, as Peter says here, is it men, human beings? Well, it's men, it's people. And this is the whole point of the vision, not that you can now eat frog legs and pig, and anything it creeps and crawls, but that God is using that for the distinction that it is. And why did God exclude a whole class of animals and birds and everything that were unclean in the law if not to teach Israel that they were separate, they were not like the other nations, and they were not to eat these certain foods termed common or unclean because they were a holy people set apart for God's purpose? Now, there's the dietary matters as well and contagion and so many other factors that we do know about in part, although, you know, as our booklet on the subject brings out, when it comes to pig today, with cooking methods, you cook away a lot of the contagion, the worms and whatever might be in there.

I was watching a food show a couple of years ago. If I can't find a good old movie to watch, which I usually can't, then I'll find a good food show on...not on Netflix, but on Prime, which I have to watch. And they were in Italy eating through Italy. And I love Italian cooking. I love Italy. And they went to this farm where they were raising pigs for the market for certain chefs. And these pigs were clean pigs in that they had clean pens, not mud that they mucked around in, and they were fed clean food, grain and acorns, which pigs love. And they butchered one and they showed it and it looked clean, whatever, but they were talking about it in there. But it was raised in very sanitary conditions and fed special food, all right? Kind of like a corn-fed cow. We feed cows corn and they fed these pigs acorns.

And I'm thinking, "Boy, the extent that you can go to clean up something that wasn't meant to be eaten." I didn't try to find that type of pork to eat. That's not my point, nor should it be yours. But in modern methods, certain things have been... And people can eat pig all their life and live to be 100 years old. It happens. A good friend of mine had a father, his grandfather lived to be 105, smoked cigars every single day of his life until the day he died. Now, don't go out and start smoking cigars and say that I'm saying that smoke and you're going to live to over... That's not my point. Genetics and everything else play a role into it.

And you can chip away at that if your only explanation is that it creates disease, which some foods do. And, you know, you can, you know, eat the lobsters and all the crayfish. I have this thing from Dave Berry that when I teach the class on clean and unclean foods I usually have passed out, but it's a hilarious parody that the humorous Dave Barry did a number of years ago about eating snot, which he called slugs snot, and oysters, you know, what they look like and things like spiders from the sea and things like that, which when you stop and think about it, yeah, why would you want to eat those things? But we know that people do and they don't heal over and they may not necessarily get sick from that.

But that's not the point, ultimately, although, you know, it can be supportive. Number one is that God was dealing with a holy people. And down to how you lived your life, even to what you ate was going to be determined by what He defined as clean and unclean, holy and unholy. And that's the job of...it was the job of the priests, it's the job of the teachers and the church. Ezekiel 44:23 is a very important verse from that period of time that, "My servants will teach my people the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean." And it's a holiness code.

And this is what was at the heart of it. And when you get that locked in, then you can understand the covenant issues and, again, there's no clear teaching in the New Testament to do away with it. You will go through Romans 14, you'll go through 1 Timothy and Mark 7, Dr. Dunkel will explain to you. I probably won't teach that particular fundamental this year, but you'll get this covered. In this particular case here, verse 28 comes right down to it.

Acts 10:28 "Don't call any man common or unclean."

For our spiritual inclusion within the body of Christ, God is showing them all people are now eligible and I am opening the doors. And it's not just by racial descent, ethnic descent, but all peoples in all nations.

Acts 10:29 So, Peter says, "Therefore, I came without objection," verse 29, "as soon as I was sent for. I ask then, for what reason have you sent me?"

So, he's beginning to understand the meaning of the vision and grow in what God is doing.

Acts 10:30-33 “And Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago I was fasting until this hour. At the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing. And He said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard. Your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send, therefore, to Joppa, call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He's lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner by the sea. When he comes, he'll speak to you.’ So, I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now, therefore, we are all present before God to hear all the things commanded you by God.’”

This is a mark of a converted mind. "To hear all things commanded you by God. Teach us." Cornelius fell on his feet before Peter. He recognized that this was a man of God and having been sent for as a result of the angel coming to him. And this was a pretty weighty matter that we are getting into.

Acts 10:34-43 “And so Peter opened his mouth and his first statement is, ‘In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. In every nation, among all the Gentile nations, not just within Israel, whoever fears Him, works righteousness, is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel preaching peace through Jesus Christ, He is Lord of all. That word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, began from Galilee after the baptism with John preached. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit, with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we're witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day and showed Him openly and not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before Him, even to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead, to Him all the prophets witness that through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.’”

Very short, very powerful sermon, probably a synopsis of much more that he said as he begins to explain this to a gathering of Gentiles led by Cornelius in this place called Caesarea. So, you not only have to understand the people that he's talking to, a group of Gentiles, but understand also the place. The place. The people, they're Gentiles, right? This is remarkable. But the place that this is in is Caesarea, a city with the name of the beast on it. Caesarea, named after Caesar, a Gentile enclave of the Roman power, fourth beast of Daniel 7, right? The seat of the beast in Judea. A place with the theaters, the hippodrome, the stadium, the palace of the king, and all things Roman were done. Probably had various temples and cult shrines to the various gods and goddesses of Rome as well. This is the place then that Peter is called to to open the door of salvation to these Gentiles.

Some teachers make a lot over this place. It is important, I think, to at least note that. God had already begun in Samaria and on the road to Gaza with the Ethiopian eunuch. But here is a significant one because now what happens. And let's go ahead and read on in the story.

Acts 10:44-46 "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished." Those of the circumcision would be the Jews, the brethren that came with Peter from Joppa. "They were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also, and they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God."

Now, we're not told this happened with the Ethiopian eunuch, nor are we told that it happened with the people Philip baptized back in Samaria, but it does happen here. And this parallels Chapter 2 of Acts. Okay? Got Acts right there. Let's just put two right there. Here we are at Chapter 10 when this takes place. And so we got a parallel. The Holy Spirit falls upon now Gentiles and they speak in tongues. Just like the Jews spoke in tongues back in where? Where did they speak in tongues? Jerusalem. Yeah. All right?

You couldn't get any further apart with not only the people, Gentiles to Jews, but location, Caesarea to Jerusalem. Completely Gentile here, Acts 2, completely, you know, children of Abraham, but they speak in tongues. God is showing... It's almost... And it's in reverse order because in verse 46, Peter answered, "Can anyone forbid water, these should not be baptized, who've received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. They asked Him to stay a few more days.

And so here's the reverse. They speak in tongues and then they're baptized. And in Acts 2, they spoke in tongues first and then thousands were baptized, went on to be baptized. We would assume that the disciples that spoke in the tongues were baptized too. The text doesn't say that, but just look at what is happening here in Chapter 10. It's almost like God has pushed...He's pulled Peter along the way. Why did Peter even go out on this trip? We would think from Jerusalem. He goes down to Lydda, to Joppa. We read about the two episodes that he had.

And then, you know, God's... It wasn't about Lydda and Joppa so much as it was about what God was moving him toward, and that was this encounter with Cornelius. And now he's got him in the same house, and Peter is like, "Okay," he said, "All right, I'm here." Go back in verse 29, "All right, I'm here. What have you sent me for? Why have you sent for me?" It's almost like there's a little bit, "Why am I here? What's going on?" And Cornelius tells him about his vision, Peter gives a sermon, and then God doesn't even wait. Peter doesn't have to do the, "Well, are you guys ready to be baptized?" God just gives them the Spirit. It's like, "Peter, wake up. Peter, you know, this is what's going on. What is happening to... I'm doing with him is the same thing I did with you and the rest of the group back in Acts 2." And then the light comes on with Peter and he says, "Oh, let's be baptized. You've received the Holy Spirit just as we have." From this point, Peter is all in. He sees it. He gets it. It's not just about the Jews or the children of Abraham. It's now about all nations. And so he sees this. And then they're baptized.

Now, there's a lot happening here. If we go back to the idea of, let's say, clean and unclean, and I could read to you just an example. This is the Lexham geographic commentary on Acts through Revelation, a compilation of a number of essays. Very helpful, very good book. But they have a chapter on this story here, Peter's ministry in Caesarea. And here's just an example of how this kind of happens where they read the account in one paragraph, something has happened, the Spirit came upon all who heard the message, just like in Jerusalem.

Verse 47, Peter, they quote, "Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized. That's what they had done in Jerusalem in Pentecost," I'm quoting. "That's what they would do here in Caesarea." And then it says, "And now," I'm quoting, "we see the whole point of Peter's vision, the invitation, and the fact that this was a Caesarea story. Peter's vision in Joppa..." And this is their point. "Peter's vision in Joppa made it clear that the food laws were no longer an obstacle. Gentiles did not have to become Jewish to join the ranks of the church. Kosher food laws were no longer an obstacle to table fellowship." This is how they explain it. No citation from any other verse or whatever. You read to that.

And I've been on tours with teachers, ministers, and I would say this is... When they start talking about foods, you know they're on shaky ground and they just jump to a conclusion. "It's all clean. And I'm going to spend the rest of my life eating everything unclean that I possibly can." And I'm saying, "You know, you're so smart in some ways, but you don't see this." There's reasons for that, we would say, but don't call any man common or unclean. This is about holiness. This is about holiness. And God gives the Spirit. And Peter stays with them and he begins to eat with them. And there's no indication that they broke out the ham sandwiches, you know, prosciutto and, you know, mixed it up with some good fresh pasta and fresh olive oil and, you know, a nice loaf of good bread, and washed it down with a nice chianti. No. There's nothing there that says that they did that. Some of you missed it, some of you got it, but that's okay.

It is about people, the Spirit, and I don't think they brought out the Italian ham. If he was a devout man considered so by the Jews, I think Cornelius was already getting the food laws. The Jews wouldn't have even looked upon him as devout. Am I reading into it? Well, you draw some conclusions from everything, but in the absence of explicit teaching, I think you have to go with what you know from the Scripture, but then they're baptized. And baptism is with water, and water cleanses, the cleansing of the water by the Word. And we saw that in Acts 2. We see that throughout Scripture and the teaching about baptism.

These people do what the Bible tells us to do, and that is to be clean. As we approach God, and even among the Gentile pagan cults, they'd have their washings too. Sometimes they wash the actual blood of a bull to be initiated into the cult of that particular god. But water purifies. Water cleanse. People understand that. Even go through all the cultures of the world, washing, cleansing, ritual. Even the Hindus, they'd bathe the first thing in the morning when they get up. Sometimes it's in the dirty water of the Ganges. But it's a ritual purification. It's a part of their belief system.

And we don't go through baptism every day. We understand what it means and we do that. And then as we go about our life, we seek to live holy lives. And that, as we see from Scripture, the example of Daniel and his friends in Daniel 1, comes down to even not only how we live, how we talk, how we think, but down to even how we eat as part of the holiness code to be holy as I am holy. And that's the story here, baptism. Yeah, food, they ate. But I don't think they ate pig. I don't think they ate unclean food. I don't think that's what took place here as it goes on. And so this is the story as we find it. And Peter stays with them a period of time in the account here.

Acts 10:48  It says, "He commanded them to be baptized and they asked him to stay a few days."

Now, the scene shifts in Chapter 11, and we can go ahead and go into that here as we look at this because Luke is intent on driving this point home.

Acts 11:1-3 "The apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem,” which he would have done literally from Caesarea, “those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, ‘You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them.’”

Notice what they say. It is very specific, "You went in and sat at table with uncircumcised men and ate with them." Doesn't go into the specifics about what they ate, but that's what they contend with him on. And this is what they've heard. Who are these? Some of the commentators feel that this is not the Judaizers that are addressed in Chapter 15, which we'll talk about, who were demanding that Gentiles be circumcised. There's one school of thought that these were Christians within the church, members, but specifically Jewish members, all right, in Jerusalem. And they question him on this specific point, that you sat down at table, which would have violated certain restrictions that even some of the Jewish members still were holding to as part of their holiness code, but not willing to extend it to Gentiles.

Acts 11:4 “And so Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning.”

Chapter 11 is largely then a rehash of what has happened in Chapter 10. Let's just quickly look at it.

Acts 11:5-12 “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. When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And I heard a voice saying, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘No, not so, my Lord, for nothing common or unclean as at any time entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed, you must not call common.’ This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. And at that moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. Moreover, these six brethren accompanied me, and we enter the man's house.”

So, here he gives a specific number as to how many went with him. And so, again, the Spirit told me, was it the Father? Was it Christ? It doesn't say. It was the Spirit of God. And both the Father and Christ are Spirit. And so we don't need to belabor that particular point, but it's God directing him to this. And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house.

Acts 11:13-17 “who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa. Call for Simon, whose surname is Peter, who will tell you by words by which you and all your household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as upon us at the beginning. 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.’ Therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us.” So, here's Peter, he turns it now to his fellow members. "If God gave them the same gift as He gave us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus, who was I that I could withstand God?"

He brings it to point. This is the point. "If God gave them the same Spirit upon that He gave us and in the same manner with the speaking in tongues, who am I that I can withstand God?" This is a watershed moment, not just for Peter, but for the church, that they've got to get out of the way. A Gentile does not have to become a Jew to have a relationship with God. A Gentile can go straight to God without passing go. And they don't even collect $200, but they collect eternal life. Okay? And so that's what you're seeing here. And, you know, it's not that the Jews looked at themselves kind of just somehow below God and the Gentiles are way down here. What they're being shown is that the Gentiles don't have to become a proselyte, a God-fearer, and somehow a second-class non-voting, non-participating member of the synagogue because they won't get circumcised or they can't change their ethnicity.

No, they bypass this. They go straight to God. They have a direct relationship with God. And this becomes a sticking point for some of the Jews we're going to see over the matter of circumcision. It still has to be settled. And that's a little bit more than what has happened here. It's not mentioned. And Cornelius and his household, they're not circumcised. The males are not. It's not discussed, not brought out here. But it's very clear in Peter's mind that God gives the Spirit and therefore a relationship with him without even, you know, through the cutting of the flesh becoming like a Jew. And certainly, it's impossible for, say, an Italian to become a Jew because he was born an Italian or whatever any of the others were. And this is monumental.

Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things, they became silent and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”

This is a remarkable phrase in verse 18. "God has granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." They already had life. They're flesh and blood. What life is He talking about? It's the life of the Spirit. It's eternal life. It is a transformed life now that they have God's Spirit, the power of God, the life of God, the relationship with God, and the hope of eternal life through the sacrifice of Christ and a relationship with God.

Repentance to life. That's true repentance. Another topic in itself, isn't it? What true repentance is all about? But notice it says, "When they heard these things, they became silent." Silence is golden. When you stop talking, you can hear. When you stop talking out of your mouth, you can hear what the other person is saying. When you stop talking in your head, and somebody is trying to talk to you or explain to you, and you stop even talking in your head and you truly try to listen with your heart, you can understand. When that happens, then we can worship God.

These Jewish Christians started out criticizing, "We heard you were eating with the uncircumcised." They were trying to find that loose brick. The one thing that if they could pull out, then they could reprimand Peter, pull a sermon, you know, censor him, do whatever is done. And Peter just walked them through step by step and they couldn't deny it. And then what really happened is beyond... Listen, I get into a lot of discussions over the Bible, teaching. I get into a lot of discussions. You guys discuss the Bible? You get into discussions yourself? Everybody online can relate to that? Do you ever change anybody's mind? Do you ever convince anybody when you get on certain topics because of your brilliance, your knowledge of the Scriptures, and the way you rationally explain things calmly? Do you always win the argument, advance your understanding? Some of you are laughing. I sense in some of your talks, you go to bed at 2:00 a.m. or whenever it is, and maybe some are still of the same opinion still? Uh-huh. Yeah. Well, that happens among us adults too.

At some point, you've got to shut up and listen to the facts, look at the Scripture, and stop criticizing. And sometimes you just have to admit either, "I'm wrong, I didn't understand the scripture or this point," or your point of view, can be on just interracial...not interracial, but inter-relational matters. And we admit, "I was wrong. I didn't understand you or I didn't understand your point or how you...and now I understand." Or if it's something scripturally, you realize, "Okay. I've been wrong in that. And your explanation helps me to understand what truth is on the topic." And you stop trying to find the loose brick.

I find sometimes our discussions go on for long, long periods of time because individuals are still looking for the loose brick to try to topple the argument, topple, in some cases, what is truth. And the maturity is we don't have to split over all this, we don't have to label everybody. But these Jewish Christians started out trying to find that loose brick, and they listened to Peter, and they finally realized that, yeah, same thing happened to them. They spoke in tongues, meaning that God gave them the Spirit just like He gave that to us all those years ago.

And then they stopped criticizing. And when you stop criticizing, when you stop looking for that loose brick, then worship, obedience can begin, then you can truly worship God, and you can worship with true fellowship with your brethren in harmony and unity as the Psalms says, "How good and how pleasant." But you have to stop the criticism thinking that you're always right or that your view is the only view. Or because of what we have been through in the church and heresy crept in and I or my group or my people, we've got to be on guard. We have got to be fighting against heresy. We've got to ferret it out and criticize and look for it in every explanation and see it under every cover or around every corner.

And we just keep picking away. Or we can admit to the truth or sometimes we may just have to admit there's a... Well, there could be another way to look at this, and maybe the Scripture is not clear. I'm not talking about the Sabbath and I'm not talking about God and, you know, fundamental beliefs. I'm talking about the things that, you know, we talk about till 2:00 in the morning or, you know, at certain times of year when it comes around. You can fill in the blanks.

When criticism stops, then we can worship in truth and we can worship together in true fellowship. And that may be one of the biggest lessons to take out of this episode here as to what happens. So, this brings us down to the end of verse 18. And with verse 19, we're going to pick up on a... The scene is going to shift to a new story. And it's actually going to pick up the thread that we went to earlier of what happened with the scattering of the disciples after the death of Stephen and a continuation of the expansion of the gospel into the Gentile world, this time in a city of all cities that they might not have expected to see a church spring up. And it's who does it and what they do and how they do it. And what then becomes as a result of this initiative that is one of the little-understood chapters and episodes out of the book of Acts. We'll get into that next time.