Eternal God, reassure me in my doubts and fears so that I may set my hope fully on You.
Read Acts 10:34-48
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
“Before Christ sent the church into the world, he sent the Spirit into the church. The same order must be observed today” (John Stott). We need the fullness of the Spirit to be effective witnesses!
Peter’s opening words make the point that his journey from Joppa to Caesarea was not simply a geographical movement. Indeed, it was a spiritual and theological pilgrimage, a journey of momentous discovery in which the extent and depth of God’s grace at work beyond Israel became clear (34).
There is one final surprise in this story. Peter’s sermon is interrupted, not by the members of his audience, but by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descends upon those present in a manner that leaves the preacher’s Jewish companions astonished (45). Luke describes this as happening while Peter “was still speaking,” suggesting that he had not yet reached the conclusion to which his argument was heading. Perhaps God intervened to demonstrate beyond all doubt that faith in Jesus was sufficient for Gentile salvation. Perhaps Peter and his companions might have been tempted to respond to an end-of-sermon inquiry by suggesting some aspects of behavior that they deemed appropriate for new converts. The outpoured Spirit closed off that possibility, as Peter himself recognizes when he concludes that those who have received the Spirit “just as we have” cannot be denied baptism.
This radically new departure was to lead, in time, to Christianity becoming almost entirely Gentile. Peter opened a door through which we and others have been “brought near” and granted peace (Eph. 2:11-13). Two thousand years later we are now the people with traditions, principles and models of Christian behavior, some of which may become obstacles to mission. Will we give liberty to those who step outside the safety of our traditions to engage with Cornelius-like seekers? Will we recognize the sovereignty of the Spirit in bringing spiritually hungry contemporary pagans to Christ before we are able to lay down our membership conditions?
Do you or your church have any traditions that could become obstacles to mission? How can you avoid that?
Lord, You are always working in the world. Make me aware of anything in me that might hinder others knowing You.
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