Summary: There is no doubt that the early church needed a wake-up call. So Peter was chosen to get it, and to be the point man for the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church of Jesus Christ.
Passage: Acts 10:9-23
Intro: It’s amazing how often in Scripture God’s entire plan hangs on one person.
1. Noah chosen to build the ark
2. Abraham called to believe.
3. Joseph tested and approved.
4. Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for sins
5. Now Peter, being challenged to turn from his nationalistic values to embrace God’s bigger plan.
6. saw last week how Cornelius was shaken out of his comfort zone.
7. that was nothing compared to what Peter went through.
8. this is more than just a dream one guy had 2000 years ago.
9. God issuing a wake-up call to the undisputed leader of the early church
10. shook him to the very foundations of who he was, redefined him.
11. lets look at this well-known event, first in its historical perspective, then what it accomplished in Peters day and still accomplishes in ours.
I. Peters Vision in Historical Perspective.
1. if we want to know what God is doing, we have to get the big picture.
2. one way to look at the Bible is that it contains “salvation history”
3. that is, the history of what God has done and is doing to save people from the tyranny of sin.
4. sin has, since Adam and Eve chose their way over Gods, been the universal condition of mankind.
5. in response to this condition, God chose one nation, the Jews, to be the people through whom He would bless the entire world.
PP Genesis 12:3, 22:17-18
6. I believe God called Israel to be a unique people, a holy people, because ultimately the Savior would come through them.
7. so to and through them God sent Jesus, but not just for them.
8. all human beings were ungodly, sinful, unclean.
9. what made the Jews clean was God’s choice to provide a way for them to be clean, the sacrificial system.
Il) like a cure for cancer, but only one group of people have it.
10. but what the early church did not realize was that God had expanded this cleansing to the whole world.
11. there had been hints of this in the OT
PP Genesis 18:18 “whole world”
12. Jesus had included in Acts 1:8, “the ends of the earth”
12. God was at work, and far beyond the Jewish nation. Now that step would be taken.
II. The Clear Revelation of Blessings without Barriers.
1. Peter was comfortable on Simon’s rooftop
2. waiting for his kosher meal to be prepared, he had a “food vision”
3. sheet came down “from heaven”. Same word as “the heavens”, but context shows the vision specifically from God.
4. as hungry as Peter was, he was shocked by the commands he received. “Kill + eat
5. OT clearly prohibits what he was being commanded to do.
PP Deuteronomy 14:7-8ff
6. one look was all Peter needed to say “NO way!”
Il) like a kid faced with his first plate of broccoli
7. v15, “God has made clean”
8. Greek tenses very interesting.
9. “do not continue to call…”, (because) “God has at one point in the past made what used to be unclean, clean.”
10. this can only refer to the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Jesus.
11. NT points out clearly the amazing cleansing power of this event.
PP Hebrews 1:3
PP Hebrews 9:26
PP 1 Peter 3:18
12. it used to be the law that cleansed, temporarily and for the Jews.
13. now the whole world is potentially cleansed, Christ’s death being efficient for those who are chosen and sufficient for everyone in the world.
14. we can’t imagine what a shock this was for Peter, the leader of the Christian Church for Jews Only.
15. three times the command was repeated, until the sheet was taken back
16. quite an experience, but to this point Peter did not understand what it meant.
17. was the whole vision about food?
18. but v19 clarified it for him
III. Our Personal Involvement is Required
1. Peter may have been able to agree in principle that God had cleansed food, even the nations!
2. but ministry is not “in principle”
3. another “3”, 3 men downstairs looking for Peter.
4. v20 “go with them” …scary words for a Jew
5. Peter goes down, and hears words that turn his whole world on its head.
6. “Cornelius the centurion”, obviously a gentile.
7. “come to his house so that he could hear…”
8. two big problems.
9. first, he would be invited into a Gentiles house, where he not allowed to go by Jewish law.
10. “what you have to say”, which would clearly be the message of salvation thru Jesus.
11. Peter had not been given permission by the church to take the gospel to the Gentiles. But here was a command from God, which coincided with his vision perfectly.