Summary: This message will guide us to obey God,even if it means breaking a tradition.
PETER’S CONVICTING QUESTION TO A CONTENTIOUS PEOPLE
My brothers and sisters had you ever run across a person or a group that without examining the facts, is ready to expose you as being wrong concerning a particular issue? They have already set in their minds that you are wrong and have need to be corrected.
There is a quote from a man by the name of Maxwell Perkins who once said, “One of my deepest convictions is that the terrible harms that are done in this world are not done by deliberately evil people, who are not many, and is often known. They are done by the good—by those who are so sure that God is with them. Nothing can stop them, for they are certain that they are right.” Mr. Perkins is correct in his analogy. Too often we find, not only evil people being contentious, but we find people that are considered good being just as contentious.
Our text starts off with the apostles and brethren in Judea hearing the news coming out of Caesarea. Peter had just delivered to the Gentiles a message that introduced and filled them with the Holy Ghost experience. The Jews who were with him were astonished as they witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What they saw was the residual effects of what happened to them on the Day of Pentecost. They heard these Gentiles speak with tongues, and magnified God. I tell you it was Pentecost all over again.
Now this 11th chapter as I said before hand, starts off with the apostles and the brethren hearing the news coming out of Caesarea. The Gentiles had heard and received the word of God. And when Peter arrived in Jerusalem, they were prepared to contend with him because they claimed that he went into the land of the uncircumcised and broke bread.
So, let’s take a look at this pericope, and maybe we can hear this convicting question that Peter asks.
First of all...
1. WE HEAR IN THEIR WORDS THE INTENTION TO REBUKE (Vv.2 & 3)
“And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of circumcision contended with him, 3. Saying, thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”
As we observe in the first instance, we discover the apostles and the brethren getting word that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit. Now this was reason for them to be happy for the things that the Lord had done. But instead, we can hear resentment in their voices. Grant it that Peter went down to Caesarea without their blessings, but when it comes to doing God’s work, you would have preferred to go to them, but you do not need the blessings of others. Verse 3 qualifies what they were feeling at the time. They accused Peter of going into the land of the uncircumised and eating with them. Now we should not get in a hurry and skip over verse 2, because in verse 2 it said that they were planning to contend with Peter. But instead of them saying what was really on their minds they said that he went in to the uncircumcised and ate with them. Their real problem was that the brethren was narrow minded in a Old Testament tradition, and did not like the idea of Peter baptizing the Gentiles before they were circumcised. Now don’t get me wrong and I do respect some traditions. But tradition works only in the time period where it is effective, in other word tradition should be followed when there is nothing else better. This tradition for instance worked during the time of the law, it was effective for recognizing the covenant relationship between Israel and God, but it became ineffective after grace and the New Testament church appeared. Particularly after the Son was given and most of Israel would not embrace the Son. You see the Christians are said to be circumcised in Christ according to Col. 2:11, and it is He who cuts away our life of sin. Now most if not all the believers were Jews and they were circumcised as small children and had been committed to the Mosaic law. Even after they excepted Christ they were still hanging on to the Old Testament tradition of circumcision, but by that time it was ineffective. So it was their intent to rebuke Peter for baptizing before circumcising.
2. PETER EXPLAINED HIS ACTIONS AS A CALLED MISSION FROM GOD (V.16)
“Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”
As we look at verse 3 we see the need for Peter to explain his actions. Verse 4 said that Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it in order. You see there was a need for the brethren to hear that his actions were ordered by God. And it was not that he was inconsiderate to the powers to be. But we must understand that if Peter would have sought the brethren for permission to go to Caesarea. Then he would have had to explain the purpose of the trip. And being that their ministry was to the Jews they would have tried to convince Peter not to go, then Peter would’ve had a decision to make. Whether to obey God or obey man. Now I can only speculate that they would have turned him down. But knowing the position that the Jews took towards the Gentiles, It would be safe to say that they would had. So Peter explained his vision to them step by step, allowing them to hear what the Lord had ordered him to do, and throughout his discourse he continued to tell them how the Spirit led him. He even let them know in verse 15 that as he began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell upon them as He had done on the Jews in the beginning. This is when he realized what Jesus had said that “John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” This statement of Jesus should’ve allowed them to see that Peter was on a called mission from God.