Summary: The story of three miracles, two done through Peter and one done in Peter.
Sermon # 19
“The Miracles of Grace”
Our text today is a story of miracles. We love miracles, stories of the miraculous. The concluding portion of Chapter nine and the beginning of chapter ten is the story of three such miracles. It is the record of two miracles done through Peter and one miracle done in Peter. I believe that miracle that God does in us is greater than any miracle done to us. The greatest miracle is not physical deliverance from disease but spiritual deliver-ance from sin.
In verse 32 we pick up again with the story of Peter, the last time we saw him was in Acts 8:25 (quickview) . Peter will remain the chief apostle to the Jews, yet it is Peter not Paul who opens the door of the gospel to the Gentiles.
There was a deep and sharp division between the Jews and the Gentiles. The root of the problem lies in the distinctions, which the Jews drew, between “clean” and “unclean.” There are of course biblical principles in the Old Testament concerning animals but not applied to men. The Jews had unfortunately applied this principle to men with disastrous results. Israel was chosen as the vessel through which God would bring lost men and women to Himself. But the fundamental obstacle to Jews carrying out this task was prejudice. And it in turn it also became the fundamental obstacle to the proclamation of the gospel. It had been five years since Pentecost and still the church was Jewish to the core. Christianity was seen as a sect of the Jewish religion.
In fact one of the problems that the church had to deal with in the early years was the notion, advanced by the Judaizers, that one must first become a Jew before becoming a Christian. That even as a Christian they must be circumcised and keep the law. This false doctrine first rears its head in Acts 15:1-2 (quickview) , “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (2) Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.”
Because of this teaching a “council” was called at Jerusalem to settle this dispute. Peter’s experience as describe in chapter ten and repeated in chapter eleven are the evidence presented to support the fact that one did not have to first become a Jew before becoming a Christian.
The last section of chapter nine helps us to understand that Peter had a change of heart concerning the inclusion of Gentiles. This change of heart was a progressive one. We see this progression first, geographically. Peter who has made his home in Jerusalem now moves out on an evangelist tour of the churches in the cities northeast of Jerusalem. Here he visits the congregations that have sprung up as the result of the scattering after the death of Stephen. As he journeyed eventually God led him to Lydda (lid’-ah) and then on to Joppa.
I. The Miracle Done Through Peter in Lydda