Summary: The Holy Spirit is constantly working in our lives. We are always a bridge in someone’s life. Our obedience to God is a big thing. It is always worth it!
Last week we learn about overcoming prejudice.
• God has no favourites. Salvation is for all men.
• Israelites were chosen as a forerunner. God’s purpose was to save them and through them, the whole world.
• The Jews were not intended to be the END of God’s plan, but the MEANS.
• Because they failed in this, God would now use the Gentile believers to save the world, and then at the end, to bring Israel back to Himself.
If all men are loved and appear in God’s radar screen, then we need to embrace them.
• We all have this problem of prejudice. We overcome prejudice by:
• (1) Seeing people the way God sees them; (2) treating them the way we are treated, or want to be treated. And (3) acknowledge the differences and make the best use of them.
• Such diversities like race, culture, personality are God-designed. It is purposeful and beautiful, and so we learn to work with these differences.
So today we want to look at what happened when Peter and his colleagues went back to the church in Jerusalem and reported what had happened – the Gentiles have been saved.
• As expected, this is something unacceptable. In today’s context, it is like having homosexuals or ex-offenders coming into the church.
• Let’s find out what happened in Acts 11:1-18
“Who was I to think that I could oppose God?” Peter asked.
Yes, how could he oppose God? It was the work of the Holy Spirit. It was literally an act of God.
• We have seen that over the past few chapters. The Spirit of God moved Philip into the desert, he enlightened the Ethiopian eunuch. He instructed Cornelius what to do. He prepares Peter’s heart.
• These evangelistic meetings were the direct work of the Spirit. The conversions told place because of Him.
• Jesus says in John 16:8 “When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment…”
Peter’s response to the criticism was like this: ‘It’s not my fault, don’t blame me. I cannot stop what God is doing!”
• Peter did not initiate anything. He was a passive player here.
• He was just responding to the clear directives from the Lord, just as Philip did in the earlier chapter when he ran into the desert.
(1) THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ALWAYS WORKING IN YOU
Tune in to Him! Connect with Him in prayer.
• Peter and Cornelius, and Ananias and Saul were in prayer when He spoke.
No doubt about that. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of people, then and now.
• He has not stopped. He has been working ever since. We pray and expect Him to show up.
• He speaks to those who are seeking Him, and He speaks to those who know Him, so that He can bring the two together.
The Holy Spirit works, and yet He cannot do it with Peter. He works powerfully, and yet He cannot do it with Philip. He restores sight to Saul but He needs the help of Ananias.
• He does not work in a vacuum. He needs the MESSAGE of Jesus to be proclaimed.
• So Peter’s obedience is crucial. It may be a simple task but it is critical.
Peter obeyed the Spirit’s call, even though he may not really like it.
• He may not fully appreciate the audience but he obeyed. Ananias weren’t comfortable about seeing Saul, but he obeyed. Philip did not know why he needs to go into the desert road but he obeyed.
• God calls us not to do what we like but to do what is right.
We don’t always like it, we don’t always understand it, but when God moves us, when we know God has spoken, it pays to obey.
• God will fulfill His end of the bargain. He saves Cornelius’ clan and opened the floodgate for the outreach to the Gentiles.
• God always fulfill His promises, if we care to believe Him and obey what He says.
(2) OBEDIENCE TO GOD IS A BIG THING.
It is always worth it, even though we don’t like it or understand it.
So what did Peter really tells the people. It was so powerful.
• Let’s read his short sermon in Acts 10:34-43.
So what’s the Gospel? Nothing really fabulous – it’s just about Jesus.
• Peter just recounted of what happened to Jesus. This is enough to bring faith and conviction. The Gospel is all about Jesus.
• Don’t complicate the Gospel. It is not about do’s and don’ts, it is not about theology or doctrines. It is simply about the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
Don’t be side-tracked by religious terms and doctrines. Don’t be too caught up by the idea that we need to explain Christianity.