Summary: We Gentiles have been granted repentance by God. This gift is of greater worth than anything this world has to offer. The early church was not excited to open the door of faith to us. What then shall be our response to God's gift of grace?
What to do with those Gentiles!?
Acts 11 records when the doors of the church swung wide open to every nation and Peter was called on the carpet for taking the first steps. We look at this today and wonder how they could have missed it. Did not Jesus himself commission them to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature? Did not Jesus tell them to make disciples of all nations? What’s the big deal here?
As we looked last week at Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10, we noticed that this was not easy for Peter, but God used three visions, a direct statement from the Holy Spirit and then as he was preaching to a crowd of Gentiles in Cornelius’ house, God poured out the Holy Spirit on all who heard the gospel so that these Gentiles looked like a de j’veux of Acts 2. The circumcised Jews who were with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given even to the Gentiles! The Gentiles! Peter asks, “Can anyone forbid water that these might be baptized? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have!” Then Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Acts 11 records when Peter returns to Jerusalem, how he is met with a group within the church who contend with him about this. Peter! You broke the law! You went into the home of uncircumcised men and ate with them!
Is anyone else surprised about how they are confronting Peter here? I mean, Peter is an apostle! Peter is the one who preached the first gospel sermon on Pentecost that resulted in 3000 baptisms. Peter is the one who performed amazing miracles and who rebuked Ananias and Sapphira and they dropped dead. How did these men dare to confront Peter like this?
Notice Peter’s response. He humbly tells what happened and basically says, “This was not my idea! How could I resist God?” In other words: God made me do it!
What was God doing there? Listen to Peter’s words later in Acts 15:7-11.
God’s word tells the truth. But not everyone listens. When we read the Bible together today, we see how God has always been actively working to bring us to himself. He has even gone so far as to send Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son to come to us to seek and save the lost.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the reason you and I are here today is because God has worked to bring us here. God has opened the door of faith for us and you and I have answered His call to come. We Gentiles have been invited into God’s family the church.
The Bible reveals to us that salvation starts and ends with what God does. But it also involves something else. It involves our making a choice. While we Gentiles are called into Christ without circumcision, that does not mean we can enter without baptism, as so many evangelicals teach today. Nor does it mean that we may bring our worldly ways into Christ along with us.
Listen to God’s word! Look at Acts 11:18. What God has granted us is priceless. God has granted us repentance that leads to life in Jesus Christ. God did this for us even though Peter and many of the Jews in Jerusalem had a hard time with it. God did this for us even though it caused a stir in the church at Jerusalem that was not settled until Acts 15. God granted us Gentiles REPENTANCE unto LIFE!