Peter and the Gentiles

Peter and the Gentiles

Scripture: Acts 2:38-39, Romans 2:14-16, Acts 11:1-10
Date: 08/29/2015  Lesson: 9
"How do we show respect for people whose faith we believe is wrong, without giving the impression that we respect those beliefs ourselves?"

Evangelism by Ellen White

Evangelism by Ellen White
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Good morning friends and welcome to Sabbath school study hour. A very special welcome to our friends here in the Granite Bay church and also those of you joining us across the country and around the world - a very special welcome to you. And, in a special sense, we would like to greet our online members who tune in on a regular basis to study God's Word together. A very warm welcome to you as well. Now over the past few weeks we've been studying through our lesson quarterly dealing with the subject of biblical missionaries.

Today we find ourselves on lesson #9 entitled Peter and the gentiles. If you would like to follow along with us, we're on page 72 in the Sabbath school quarterly. If you don't have a lesson, you can go to the Amazing Facts website - just amazingfacts.org - and you can download today's lesson and follow along with us. We have a free offer that goes along with our study for today, a book entitled riches of grace and we'll be happy to send this to anybody who calls and asks. The number to call is -788-3966 and ask for offer #152.

That number again is 866-788-3966 - ask for the book - offer #152 - riches of grace we'll be happy to send that to anybody who calls and asks. Well, before we get into our lesson today, I'd like to invite our song leaders to come and join us in front and we'd like to begin by praising God for his goodness. Thank you. We have been studying missionaries - then and now - in our study, so we are going to continue singing about missionary work and us being missionaries in these final closing days. Hymn #366 - o where are the reapers - we will sing all three verses - hymn #366.

O where are the reapers that garner in the sheaves of the good from the fields of sin? With sickles of truth must the work be done, and no one may rest till the "harvest home." Where are the reapers? O who will come and share in the glory of the "harvest home?" Oh who will help us to garner in the sheaves of good from the fields of sin? The fields all are ripening, and far and wide the world now is waiting the harvest tide: but reapers are few, and the work is great, and much will be lost should the harvest wait. Where are the reapers? O who will come and share in the glory of the "harvest home?" O who will help us to garner in the sheaves of good from the fields of sin? So come with your sickles, ye sons of men, and gather together the golden grain; toil on till the Lord of the harvest come, then share ye his joy in the "harvest home." Where are the reapers? O who will come and share in the glory of the "harvest home?" Oh who will help us to garner in the sheaves of good from the fields of sin? And continuing with being a missionary, hymn #367 - just one page more - rescue the perishing - we'll sing all three verses. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o'er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save. Though they are slighting him, still he is waiting, waiting the penitent child to receive.

Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently; he will forgive if they only believe. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save. Rescue the perishing, duty demands it; strength for thy labor the Lord will provide; back to the narrow way patiently win them; tell the poor wanderer Jesus has died. Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save. At this time, Pastor Ross will lead us in prayer and we will get into our study.

I'd like to invite you to bow your heads as we pray. Dear Father, we thank you once again that we're able to gather together in your house to worship you on this special day - this Sabbath - this time when we can set aside the cares of the week and just set our minds upon you and upon Your Word. We ask your blessing upon our study today. May we not only learn something that we can apply to our lives, but that we'd also be motivated to go out and share the good news of salvation - be modern-day missionaries. Bless our time together for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen.

Our lesson today will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor. Thank you, Pastor Doug. Thank you, Pastor Ross. Morning. Morning.

How is everybody? (Inaudible) and I'd like to welcome those who are here worshiping with us at the Granite Bay church as well as our online class. I was just - yesterday up in - where was i? Spokane, Washington, at the national asi meeting, and whenever I go to any kind of a church convocation we always meet a lot of people who say, 'we're part of your extended class.' And so we always want to greet you and say, 'we know you're there and thank you for studying with us.' We're going to be continuing with what really is a great study, talking about biblical missionaries. And, as Pastor Ross mentioned, today we're on lesson #9. We're talking about a great missionary that Jesus trained, by the name of Peter. And it's dealing with the mission work - it's a transition point in history that's very significant, where it goes from the jews that were really the guardians of the oracles of truth and how they transfer that off to the gentiles.

And so, we're going to be looking at acts chapter 2 - pentecost a little bit - acts chapter 10, chapter 11 a little, and then chapter 15. Now I'd like to know if you will indulge me a little bit as I teach this lesson, because the way the lesson is written it talks about Peter at pentecost, the conversion of cornelius part , the conversion of cornelius part 2, then it goes back to Peter's vision, but Peter's vision is actually in the middle of part 1 and part 2 of cornelius so I am going to mix up the day presentations a little bit because I'd rather do it in the sequence in the Bible. It'll just be easier for me. But we will cover the material, is that okay? And so I just want to tell you what I'm doing so you won't say, 'oh, you got those days backwards.' I know, but I'm following the Bible sequence. And so that's why we're doing it that way.

Let me give you a little background as we begin, just to understand. God did not call the Jewish nation because they were better than others. He called them - you know, they're called 'the chosen people' - it wasn't because they were the best people in the world he chose them. Even God said, 'I did not choose you because you're better than other nations, you are a stubborn and a stiff-necked people. I chose you to make you, as a nation, not only the repositories of truth - the guardians of the truth - the Messiah would come through the nation of Israel, but to also demonstrate that in spite of your human frailties and the roller coaster experience they had as a nation, God was a merciful and a loving God.

So they were a nation that was used as a platform - a catalyst - to teach who God is. Through the stories and the ups and downs and ins and outs of how he operated with Israel, we learn how he operates not only with nations, but with individuals. So the history of what he did with Israel teaches how God works with and saves individuals. Now we have a memory verse and it's in acts chapter 2, verses and 39 and I've got it here in the new king James version - acts 2:38 and 39 - I always like if you could say this with me when we start. Let's see if we can do it like a choir that's been practicing.

Are you ready? Acts 2:38 and 39, here we go: "then Peter said to them, 'repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.'" Alright, we're going to start with pentecost and pentecost was a feast that took place 50 days after passover, that's why - pente - you've got the pentateuch, which is the five books of Moses, pentagon has our military headquarters - big famous five-sided building that looks like a pentagon, and so pentecost was this feast 50 days after - they would go one day after 49 days - one day after seven weeks of sevens - so it was called pentecost, and on that day jews had gathered from every nation under heaven. Now the jews are not the only ones God wants to save, but for the first three and a half years - I've just got to use my hands for this part - how many of you know the 490-year prophecy? Daniel chapter 9 - 70 weeks are determined for your people - and that means Daniel's people were the jews - and it says that during the last week of the Gospel being presented to the Jewish nation, three and a half years it was presented in person of Jesus. Then, Christ was cut off in the middle of this last week of the jews presenting the Gospel. In the midst of the week he would cause the sacrifice to cease.

Jesus died after three and a half years of ministry. When he died, the veil in the temple was rent in two, the purpose for the sacrificial system ceased - that day it actually ceased because the veil was torn. Not only was the veil torn in the temple that day, meaning that we have a new temple, the high priest, when Christ was condemned, he tore his garments because we now have a new priesthood. We are a nation of priests and Christ is now operating as our great high priest. But there was another three and a half years in that last week of Daniel chapter 9 where it says that God would preach the Gospel 'through those who heard me' - the apostles - and it went specifically to the Jewish nation.

At the end of that time period that began in 31 a.d. With the ministry of Christ - I'm sorry, 27 a.d. - With the ministry of Christ - Jesus died in 31 a.d. Then it went for another three and a half years until 34 - stephen was stoned, the Jewish nation plugged their ears when they heard the Gospel. Now the Gospel went to everybody whosoever will.

When Christ sent the disciples out preaching, do you know what he said? 'Do not go in the way of the gentiles' - not yet - 'go, rather, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' So they were commanded to focus their ministry on the Jewish nation and the jews that were scattered specifically during that time. And so, that's what they did. Three and a half years Christ preached in person, he died on the cross. Three and a half years later stephen died. Both were falsely tried.

Both were slain outside the city, Peter - I'm sorry, Jesus and stephen. Both - there were false witnesses. Their garments were laid down at the foot of the cross - the garments were laid down at the feet of stephen when he was slain. And so, you've got this parallel. Now, that's acts chapter 1, but still, God wanted them to take the Gospel to the whole world and that's why you find, if you look, for instance - and I'm going to have someone read in just a moment John 10:16 - who has that? Okay, noemi? We'll get to you in just a moment.

First let me read acts 1:8, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you and you will be witnesses to me in Jerusalem. Where were they supposed to start? Where was the Holy Spirit poured out? Pentecost, Jerusalem, and in Judea, then it was to spread, which it did, and in samaria - when you get to acts chapter 8 you've got Philip going into samaria - and it says, 'then the uttermost parts of the earth.' You know who's converted when stephen is stoned? Yeah, stephen is stoned - acts chapter 7 - Saul is there. He makes his first appearance in the Bible. He's converted and later becomes Paul and he takes the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth - to the rest of the roman empire. And then Jesus told them, in acts 16:15, 'go into all the world.

' Now when Peter and the apostles heard Jesus say 'go into all the world,' do you know what they were thinking? I know it's going to be hard for you to get this. They were thinking, 'Jesus wants us to take the news to the jews that are scattered around the world because we're the chosen people. The gentiles are those beggars at our gate wanting the crumbs that fall from our table and some of them might convert and become jews and we'll save them, but really, we're to go to the synagogues around the world.' They thought that the gentiles were all lost - they were dogs. You remember when the woman came following after Jesus? He was up preaching in tyre - one of the few times Jesus left the territories of Israel - and a gentile woman said, 'please, my daughter is sore vexed by a devil. Come heal my daughter.

' And Jesus turned and he said to her, 'it is not right to take the children's food and give it to the dogs. I'm sent to the sheep of Israel.' And the woman said, 'oh, but even the dogs - the little dogs get the crumbs that fall from the children.' But the disciples, they folded their arms and said, 'that's right, Jesus, you tell her. She's a gentile. They're lost.' And so, talk about discrimination. They really had a problem with thinking that the Gospel was really just for them.

I know that's hard for us to comprehend, but they really did have a barrier. So when Jesus said the Gospel is to go to all the world, they're thinking, 'okay, the jews that are scattered around the roman empire.' Alright, go ahead, read for us John 10, verse 16, noemi. John 10:16, "and other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." Amen. So Jesus was letting them know 'there are other sheep - it's not just you.' Who are the other sheep? He was talking about reaching the gentiles. And so, this was a struggle for them, but it wasn't because it wasn't clear in the Bible.

You can read, for instance, in the old testament, Isaiah 49 - and you read in Isaiah several times it talks about the message going to the gentiles - and he said, 'is it a light thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel? I will also give you for a light to the gentiles that you might be my salvation to the ends of the earth.' That's very clear, isn't it? A light to the gentiles to the ends of the earth. And then even John the baptist said, 'do not think to say within yourself 'God's going to save us because we are children of Abraham.' God is able to raise up from these stones children unto Abraham.' And how many times do we hear the disciples saying things like 'many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the children of the Kingdom' - the natural jews - 'will be in outer darkness.' So God was telling them, all through the Bible, the Gospel is not just for the jews. Why do you think they got so upset with Jesus when he began his ministry and he went to his hometown church in nazareth and he tells them this story and he says, 'there were many lepers in the land during the time of Elisha, but none of them was healed.' Many lepers in Israel but none of the Israelites were healed from leprosy. 'But naaman, a syrian, was healed.' A gentile. And then he says, 'and there were many widows in the land in the days of Elijah, but Elijah was not sent to any of the Jewish widows, he was sent to a gentile widow' and they were so outraged that he would say that, they took him to the brow of a hill to throw him off and somehow they dropped him and he slipped out of their fingers.

And do you see, there was this prejudice. 'What? You're saying the gentiles will be saved?' So against this backdrop - you know, the disciples misunderstood a lot of things. Even in acts chapter 1 they said, 'well, Lord, will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?' What are they thinking? The literal kingdom, like David had, on earth. They still struggled with understanding the broader picture that Jesus wanted the Gospel to go to whoever. That's why Paul said, 'whoever accepts Jesus, he is a child of Abraham.

Whoever is Christ's, he is Abraham's seed. And so, that came slowly. Alright, you've got to understand that because it's going to be kind of surprising. Alright, go to acts chapter - well now, let me just say one more thing before we leave acts chapter 2. Before the Holy Spirit is poured out at pentecost, you read in acts chapter 2, 'now there were dwelling' - or abiding - 'in Jerusalem jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven.

' These are devoted jews, but they are scattered all through the roman empire. They have come for pentecost which was one of those sacred feasts. They came from all over the roman empire. They came to pentecost and it was there that God chose to pour out the Holy Spirit to tell about Jesus so they would take the message back to their countries. But still, they're all jews because you haven't gotten to 34 a.

d. Yet. It's not until acts chapter 7 they got shaken up when the Jewish nation plugged their ears - the supreme court plugged their ears - they stoned stephen, they rejected that message of the Gospel. Paul now has heard - he saw stephen praying, filled with the Holy Spirit - and there's a great persecution. The disciples are scattered everywhere preaching the Gospel.

Now you get to acts chapter 10. Alright, so let's go there and you have the - we talked a little bit about Peter at pentecost here. Go to - and I'm just going to start reading acts chapter 10, if that's okay, just to kind of give you the backdrop. Now "there was a certain man in caesarea called cornelius, a centurion of what was called the italian regiment," - the word 'cornelius' means 'horn' - in the Bible that meant strength - and he is based in caesarea. That is a coastal city.

Actually, herod the King gave this town to the wife of caesar and named it after her, caesarea. So it was named after the wife of Augustus caesar, I believe, and the Bible doesn't say anything bad about the centurions, did you know that? To be a centurion, you had to serve for at least eight or twelve years before you even qualified to be nominated to be a centurion and usually they looked for people that had good judgment. They were soldiers that were respected by the other soldiers because you had to command them off and send them into death so you had to be a respected soldier. You find there's some good centurions in the Bible. Now I'm going to have someone, in a moment, read Matthew 27:54, who's that? Okay, hafdis, just a moment.

Look in Matthew 8:5 - "now when Jesus had entered capernaum, a centurion came to him, pleading with him," - you remember when Jesus healed the servant of this centurion? Here's this centurion that comes to Jesus - he believes in the God of Israel - and he's praying that Jesus could heal his servant. And after Christ heals his servant - or hears what he says, Jesus said, 'I have not found such great faith. No, not in Israel.' So you wonder, was this the same centurion? Don't know. They took place in different places but he could have moved. And then, go ahead, read for us Matthew 27:54.

"So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, 'truly this was The Son of God!'" So is that a - was that a true statement that the centurion made? Yeah, and so God could speak through them. Something else I want you to notice, if you look in Luke chapter 23:47 - same verse, basically, "so when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, 'certainly this was a righteous man!'" And you know, it says this happened at the ninth hour - the centurion declared that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus was a righteous man. Reading the story of cornelius it says that 'about the ninth hour' - in verse 3 - 'he saw a vision.' Isn't that interesting? It was the ninth hour when another centurion had a Revelation that Jesus was The Son of God and here it says it's the ninth hour when cornelius is praying. Now, what does it tell us about cornelius? You look in verse 2 - not only is he of the italian regiment, it says he is a devout man - a man of devotion - one who feared God - he is a God-fearing man - he's a generous man - one who gives alms generously - and he prayed always.

So here is a Godly, generous man of integrity and - but he's not a jew. Are there some people that worship God that are out there - maybe aren't in the church yet? Yes. But they have a relationship with God. They're people of integrity. They're generous people.

They're God-fearing people. So it tells us these several things: he prayed to God - what? - Always - 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray without ceasing" the Bible says. Colossians 4:2 "continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in thanksgiving." Jesus says, in Luke 18:1, he spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." - Well, Christians ought to be in an attitude of prayer, communion with God, aware of the presence of God all the time. And so, it says he's a God-fearing man - feared with all his household. You know what that means when it says 'with all his household'? He led the others in his household to fear God.

You can - what does the Bible say about fearing God? Someone's got job 28:28 - ms. Batchelor, you'll read that in just a moment. Psalms 27, "the Lord" - this is verse 1 - "the Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" So to fear God is talking about having this relationship with God that gives you that divine wisdom, which is the next verse. Go ahead and read that. "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.

'" And that was job 28:28. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. So this man is a God-fearing man. He's a - in virtually every respect he's accepted the God of Israel, but he's not been circumcised. Now, later it says Peter - in chapter 11 - when he tells the story about going to cornelius' house, it says, 'you went into the home of those who were not circumcised.

' So he believes in God, but he hasn't joined the church, so to speak. And so be careful about being too harsh to judge those that may not see things quite like you. God has some people out there that you might be surprised have a high - high esteem - maybe higher than you in the eyes of God - and they're not church members yet. You remember when the disciples came to Jesus, they said, 'Lord, we saw a fellow, he was casting out devils in your name. We said, 'you can't do that.

You've not been authorized by us.' What did Jesus say? 'Do not forbid them. It's going to be hard for man to say anything against me if he's, you know, doing these things in my name.' And so, the Lord has other people out there, we just need to be sensitive to that. You know, one reason I joined the adventist church? I got tired of studying with different religious groups that said 'unless you're a member of our church you're lost.' And then I read in the book Great Controversy, Ellen white says, 'the greatest part of Christ's true followers are in the fellowship of other churches.' And so God's got people out there. Man looks on the outward appearance, man looks on the church books, God looks on the heart. Isn't that right? So the Holy Spirit is going to speak to this man now.

By the way, there's a great quote in the book Acts of the Apostles: 'believing in God as the creator of heaven and earth, cornelius revered him, acknowledged his authority, and sought his counsel in all the affairs of life. He was faithful to jehovah in his home and in his official duties. He had erected an altar of God in his home.' That doesn't mean that they sacrificed on it, that meant that they would regularly pray to God. 'For he dared not attempt to carry out his plans or bear his responsibilities without the help of God.' So this is a - this is somebody that you would love to have part of your church. And he's a generous man.

You can read in 2 Chronicles 16:9, "for the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him." Did cornelius have a heart that was loyal to God? Regardless of what others thought of him, he was interested in what God thought about him and so God drew near to him. Does God see when we consider the poor? You know, the Bible says that if we shut our ears to the cry of the poor, then our prayer is an abomination. So the Lord looks on those that care about others. So it says he gave alms generously to all the people. So he's praying - verse 3 - and he sees a vision of an angel of God coming in and saying to him, 'cornelius,' - angels know us by name.

They're watching us. 'And when he observed him he was afraid and he said, 'what is it, Lord?' Obviously he had some divine appearance about him. It says, 'your prayers and your alms have come up as a memorial before God.' You ever think that when you pray, you're building a memorial that God sees? Or that when you give to the poor it's building a memorial? Doesn't Jesus talk about a treasure in heaven? Cornelius had built a virtual fort knox up in heaven and God saw it. He said, 'wow, what's this building?' The angels said, 'those are the prayers and the gifts of cornelius.' 'Well, I've got to help him out.' And so these things the Lord sees. 'A memorial before God' and he said, 'now, you know, there's something you don't know yet.

I want you to know the truth about Jesus. You know about jehovah but you don't know about his son.' And the angel could have said, 'alright cornelius, sit down, take notes, I'm going to tell you all about Jesus.' But is that how God does it? When God wants to tell us something about himself, he often uses people to tell people. When Paul was converted - when he saw the light - did God say to Paul, 'Paul, sit down. I'm going to tell you all about Jesus.' Or did God say, 'Paul, I'm going to have you go to the house of Simon and he's going to talk to you - on straight street.' And then he wakes up ananias and he tells ananias, 'ananias, I want you to go talk to Paul who's at Simon's house and tell him about Jesus.' And so, I think I got the name of the house - the first house that Paul went to on straight street - it wasn't Simon, that's later in this story. Ananias was the one that he appears to later to go to the house - it may have been the house of someone named Judas.

You have to look that up in acts chapter 9. Anyway, God uses people to tell people. And so, the angel isn't coming to tell Paul - tell cornelius, the angel is coming to tell him 'I want to get a man to talk to you.' So when God came down to earth in the form of a man, what was his name? Jesus. How did Jesus tell the world, personally or did he especially train other men to tell people? He did some personally, but he spent a lot of his time teaching people to tell people. So the Lord wants to use you to tell other people.

And so the angel says, 'I want you to send messengers and get this guy named Peter - he's in - I'll tell you where he is, he's in joppa, which is a town south, to send for Simon whose surname is Peter' - where'd Peter get that name? Jesus said - there was a man named Simon and he said, 'but I'm going to call you Peter.' So he would - God - the angel is using the name that Jesus gave Simon, better known as Simon Peter. 'Send men to joppa, he's lodging with Simon, a tanner.' - They didn't have addresses like we do now, so you needed more description - ''whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.' And when the angel who spoke with him departed, cornelius called for two of his household servants and a devout soldier' - one of the soldiers that also believes - 'from among those who waited on him continually.' Remember, all his house - he had devoted people. 'And when he had explained all these things to them' - he says, 'I've had a vision. You need to go fetch this guy named Peter from joppa.

' They're on their way. Now, while this is going on, the story fast-forwards to Peter's vision. Now I know in the Sabbath school lesson it puts this after cornelius part 2. I'm just going to do it in sequence here. 'The next day they went on their journey.

They drew near the city. Peter is up on the housetop praying about the sixth hour.' Now one thing you're going to find as you read, cornelius says, 'I was fasting and praying when the angel came to me.' Peter is on the roof. He's hungry. You know what that means? He's fasting. So both Peter and cornelius are fasting when this all happens.

Just one more little commercial that Christians, even in the last days, still need to fast and pray, right? It's part of - you don't hear a lot about it, but there's a lot in the new and the old testament about we should take time to fast and pray. 'And he became very hungry' - and it's especially difficult because he's on the roof, they're downstairs cooking - he can smell it wafting up. Now, when it says he's on the roof, you realize in Bible times they made their houses - it's hot there - they don't put a pitch in the roof because it has to let the snow run off, their roofs are flat - it almost never snowed - and they used to have a little ramp around the roof and, you know, Peter went up on the roof and they often went in the cool of the day up on the roof. It's interesting that cornelius, the ninth hour he is praying and that's when Jesus died on the cross. Peter, now, is the sixth hour and that's when the sky went dark.

It's actually going backwards in time, as the Gospel's going to the gentiles, of what happened during the hours on the cross. 'He became very hungry.' He wanted to eat - 'and while they made ready' - they're cooking - 'he fell into a trance and he dreamed about fried fish.' No, it's not exactly - this is not a low blood sugar trance, it's a vision. 'And he saw heaven open and an object like a great sheet' - some fabric or something - 'bound at the four corners, descending' - like this big hammock coming down from the sky - 'let down to the earth.' It's like, you know, they would let food over the wall in a bag and this was food coming down from the heavens in this big, hammock-like sack. 'And in it were all kinds of four-footed creatures, animals of the earth, wild beasts, and creeping things and birds of the air.' Now, the context of what it's using - there were animals that were clean for sacrifice - doves, goats, sheep, oxen and so forth - and it would specify those by name. When it talks about these other creatures, it's talking about those in the other category, animals that were not clean for sacrifice, which were also, by the way, not clean to eat, and these were all coming down - four-footed animals of the earth - not the clean ones - 'wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air' - talking about the birds of carrion and crows and - 'and a voice came to him, 'rise Peter.

Kill and eat.' And Peter says, 'not so Lord, for I have never eaten anything common or unclean.' Now, pause right here and don't miss that very important point. When does this vision happen? This is acts chapter 10 - stephen is stoned 34 a.d., Which is three and a half years after Jesus died. This is after that and Peter says, 'I've never eaten anything common or unclean.' Did Jesus tell the disciples it was okay to eat anything? Well, if he did - if he did tell them that, they still hadn't eaten anything. Now Jesus said you could things without ceremoniously washed hands because it's not what goes in your mouth that defiles you, but it's what comes out, but Jesus didn't say that they could eat food that the Bible had said was unclean because here Peter is saying, 'I have never eaten common or unclean.' He'd never gotten the idea that it was okay to eat pork. He had never gotten the idea that you can now eat skunk and buzzards and maggots and all kinds of things - and dogs and snakes and all kinds of things people eat around the world.

He says, 'Lord, my body's a temple.' You remember why Daniel was so faithful - Daniel chapter 1? He would not defile himself with the food that the King ate. Peter read that - he says, 'I'm not going to - I've never eaten anything unclean.' He's wondering, 'is this a test, Lord? Your Word says, 'don't.' He says, 'I've not done it.' So God says to him, 'what God has cleansed you must not call common.' This is done three times. The sheet goes down, he says 'rise and eat.' He says, 'but Lord.' 'Do not call common what I have cleansed.' Three times this happens and the object is taken back up into heaven - this hammock or whatever it was that the animals are in. Now here's a question: does Peter - does the Bible record say Peter ever went and took a knife and butchered and took anything out of the sheet and ate it? No. So go to verse 17 - "now while Petered wondered within himself what this vision meant," - what does this vision mean? Is this a vision about a change in dietary laws or is this vision in the middle of a story about the Gospel going to people the jews formerly thought were unclean? While Peter is wondering what it meant, "behold, the men who had been sent from cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate.

" What does the vision mean? Messengers are coming from the gentiles that are going to say, 'please come to the house of the unclean and preach to us.' Now just - we've got to be clear because how many of you have heard people use the vision of Peter as an excuse to eat anything? Let me see your hands. How many of you have heard that before? Is that what the vision was about? Did Peter think that's what the vision was about? Did Luke, who wrote this, think that was the vision - the author? Was that what the vision was about? When Peter explains the vision later - go to acts chapter 11 - and when Peter is explaining what the vision means, he says, 'God has shown me' - actually, acts 10, verse 28 - he says it again in acts 11 - acts 10, verse 28, "...but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." See that? What was the vision about? 'God has shown me I shall not call any pork unclean.' Is that what it was? 'God has shown me that I should not call any camel steak unclean.' 'God has shown me I should not call any shrimp unclean.' That's how people interpret it, but is that honest? That's not what the story is about. It has nothing to do with food. What it has to do is 'do not call the gentiles unclean anymore. I want you to preach to them.

' He said, 'God has shown me this.' That's the statement Peter makes to interpret the vision he had when he's wondering, 'what does it mean?' And it tells you gentiles were at the door when he's wondering 'what does it mean?' This is what it means. Don't be afraid to go with them because you were defiled, as a jew, if you go into the house of one who is a gentile. And Peter said, 'I did it because God told me to do it.' And this was what this was all about. Alright, let's go back to the story. "And they called" - I'm in verse 18 of acts 10 - "and they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.

While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing;" - don't be afraid even though they're gentiles - "for I have sent them.'" - Peter said, 'okay, Lord.' - "Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from cornelius, and said, 'yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?'" - They then rehearsed that cornelius has had this whole vision - and then look at verse - Peter comes down to their house and when Peter comes into cornelius' house, cornelius falls down to worship him - verse 25, I'm sorry - and Peter lifts him up and says, 'stand up as myself. I am a man. Just because an angel told you that I should talk to you' - Peter's thinking within himself, 'boy, you don't know who I am.

' Peter one time said, 'Jesus, depart from me. I'm a sinful man.' And here he had someone worshiping him. Peter denied Jesus and he didn't think he was worthy of even being a Christian. Now someone's worshiping - he says, 'don't. You don't know who your' - he says, 'I'm a mess just like you.

I'm just a man. But God can use people like me, in spite of my failures, to tell you about God.' By the way, is that true of you also? In spite of all of your failures you might think, 'how could God ever use me?' God told cornelius - an angel tells cornelius 'go find Peter. I want to use him to talk to you.' In spite of all of Peter's failures, in spite of the fact he knew he was a sinful man, God said, 'I want to use him.' But don't worship me. So he says, 'get up.' And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Cornelius said, 'look, what an evangelist this guy is.

Someone's coming to talk to me about God. I'm going to bring as many as I can into my house to hear this message.' Many were come together.' And listen to what Peter says, "you know" - I'm in verse 28 - "you know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or to go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?" Now cornelius says 'an angel came and told me to hear words from you.

And so I sent to you' - verse 33 - "you have done well to come." - This is from God - "now therefore," - we're here, what do you want to tell us? "Then Peter opened his mouth" - I'm in verse 34 - here - verse - is where the Gospel goes to the gentiles. Did I miss a verse? Oh - oh that's your verse. You go ahead. You're supposed to read verse - acts 10, verses 34 and 35 - I won't read it. Thank you Karen.

"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'in truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him.'" That's so important. Notice what Peter says, 'in truth I perceive.' That means Peter said, 'I am finally coming to understand that whoever worships God - you don't have to be a jew - that you can be accepted. It took a long time for that to finally get through to them. But from this point on - acts 9 - Paul is converted but he hasn't really started preaching yet.

It goes back to Peter. The Gospel had gone to the samaritans, which were sort of semi-jews, in acts chapter 8. It had gone to the Ethiopians with Philip preaching. You see the Gospel is then taking off and it's going beyond. And let's go back and let me read this.

So he opens his mouth, he preaches to them, "the word which God sent the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ - he is Lord of all - that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of nazareth" - Jesus is the Christ; that's what anointed means - "with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed him openly," - by the way, if you want to know a quick Gospel presentation, look at what Peter says to cornelius. He gives a summary of what Jesus' ministry was all about - "him God raised up the third day and showed him openly not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with him." So he preaches to them. And verse 44 - for Peter has not even finished preaching his sermon.

His sermon is half as long as the one at pentecost. When Peter's preaching at pentecost, the Holy Spirit falls on the listening jews, right? And many are baptized. Now while Peter is preaching to the gentiles, while he's speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon those who heard the word and those of the circumcision. You know what that means? Those who were gathered on cornelius' house who were from many different language groups. Cornelius is from the italian band.

What language does he speak? Latin - italian, right? Probably not exactly like modern italian, but it was more like the classic ancient latin. And he's got servants in his household. They were from around the roman empire; they spoke different languages. And then Peter brings jews with him. Now the reason I'm emphasizing this is there are several language groups present whenever God gives the gift of tongues.

Don't miss that point. There's three examples of God filling people with the Spirit and giving the gift of tongues. In all three cases there are multiple language groups present. While Peter is speaking "the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision" - those with Peter - "who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured on the gentiles also for they heard them speak with tongues" - now were they just babbling incoherently or did they understand what they were saying? "They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

" Like if I should say to you in spanish, 'gracias a dios.' To people speaking spanish that means 'thank you, Lord' right? Or if I say 'slavo boga' in russian, people in russia would say, 'oh, he's praising God. I understand what he's saying in another tongue.' And all of a sudden the jews heard the latins and the macedonians and the Greeks speaking maybe in Hebrew or some other language and they understood what they were saying - they're praising God. They have been given this supernatural ability now to speak in other languages for the purposes of sharing the Gospel throughout the territory there. So they just - they didn't just start falling down and going into convulsions and babbling incoherently. Every time they spoke in tongues in the Bible, there were multiple language groups present.

Acts chapter 2 - when the Holy Spirit fell out, there were jews visiting from all over the roman empire who heard them speak about the wonderful works of God in their native tongues. Supernatural ability - that's the gift of tongues. Then Peter says, "can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" They're right there - caesarea - they're right at the ocean and maybe they took them to the ocean and baptized them there and I'm not sure, they might have a cistern. But so here they baptized gentiles. Now wait until that gets back to Jerusalem.

They were really upset. They brought all these gentiles into the church. So it took a little while for them to understand that God had opened the door for the gentiles. Now if you go - I've already covered Peter's vision - if you go to the Jerusalem decree - if you look in acts 15 now - we've just got a few minutes left - as the Gospel began to spread through the influence of Peter. You know, it's very important, it's a little point but when you talk about the Gospel to the gentiles, who is the Gospel to the gentiles? Well, it's Paul in the broader sense - Paul referred to himself that way, but who was the first apostle to go to the gentiles? It's Peter.

So Paul was still cutting his teeth on the studies at that point and so God used Peter to do it, which is interesting. But now as the Gospel went through asia, so many gentiles were getting converted, soon the gentiles began to outnumber the jews and there was a problem. Let me tell you what the problem was. Acts 15:1, "and certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, 'except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.'" That's pretty important. It's not a small thing.

It's a salvation issue - that once the gentiles accepted Jesus they had to be circumcised. If you're in doubt, look at verse 5, "but there rose" - acts 15:5 - "there rose up certain of the sect of the pharisees which believed, saying," these are pharisees that have accepted Jesus - they believed saying, "that is was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses." They said circumcision was mandatory. When you look in Galatians, when Paul is talking about the law and grace, what was the big point of controversy where Paul is dealing with the Galatians? Was it the Sabbath? No, it's circumcision. Galatians 5:2, 'look, I Paul say unto you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.' And then later he says, 'circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.' And so, obviously, the Sabbath was still being kept. The issue was the laws of Moses - ceremonial laws - and circumcision.

So finally they had to have a big church board meeting to decide what to do and here's what they came up with - by the way, that other verse I read, 'circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments is what matters' - that's 1 Corinthians 7:19. So after they discussed all this they said, 'alright, let's send to the gentiles what's the bottom line. How do we separate the gentile believers from the Jewish believers?' And they came up with this - acts 15:28 - "for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols," - they were sacrificing things to idols and then eating of those things, you know, right out of the idol's temple. Paul later said, 'look, if it came from the idol's temple and you don't know, don't worry about. Just pray and don't ask any questions.

' So he kind of disagreed with the Jerusalem council a little bit on that. "...from blood," - now that's very important when it says, 'abstain from blood.' That would then include all the health laws because how many of you have heard a Sunday church preach on this - that no gentile should eat blood? Not too many. I actually heard an excerpt of a sermon where Joel osteen said it. Good for him. He actually mentioned that.

But he said, 'you know, according to the Bible, if you're going to be a new testament Christian, they said even the gentiles should not eat things that are unclean along with eating blood. Most of the food and meat sold in the Markets today is still slaughtered with the blood and so - it's a different sermon though. Anyway, that's why he said,"...from things strangled," - you know why it said from things strangled? It's talking about if you're going to eat clean animals they should be killed in a way where they're not killed with the blood still in them. So eating them with the blood and strangled - that's really one thing - it goes together - "and from sexual immorality:" - that meant they were to be living moral lives. That meant there was to be marriage before there was to be sexual intimacy because the pagans, they figured as long as two people weren't married it didn't matter.

But God said no, sex was to be reserved for marriage. "If you keep yourselves from these things you do well." Now wait a second. There's nothing in here about honoring your father and mother. Since that's not mentioned for the gentiles, obviously they don't have to honor their father and mother. Is that what this means? It doesn't say anything in there about using God's name in vain.

So because in the Jerusalem council they didn't say anything about using God's name in vain, is it okay to use God's name in vain? No. They weren't talking about 'these are the only things gentiles need to do,' they were saying on top of the basics of the Ten Commandments and the other things, they were to remember these things especially and, because they were things that they were wrestling with. So you understand that the edict of the Jerusalem council was not a comprehensive statement of all that was required and that all of the teachings of the Word of God - how much new testament was written at this time? None. And so they still had all the writings of the Bible - they had the health laws. They had all that but they're saying you're not required to be circumcised.

The things that came during and after the Exodus, the laws of Moses connected with the temple and the services, they were the ceremonial laws. Was the Sabbath before the Exodus? Were the health laws before the Exodus? Did God tell Noah, who we're all related to, a difference between clean and unclean? So these are things that were just foundational laws. Did God tell Noah not to eat blood? Yeah, that's in Genesis. So these are things that go all the way back. The ceremonial laws and things connected with circumcision, those covenants afterward, that was - that was later.

And so, Jesus fulfilled all that. Anyway - hey, we actually got through most of the lesson. This is a wonderful story. Somebody's going to read now - the Gospel goes everywhere - someone read Matthew 8, verses and 12. "And I say to you, that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of heaven.

But The Sons of the Kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." That's right. So now everybody is invited. The Gospel is not restricted to just one group of people. It never was, actually.

Jesus was saying there'll be many that come and sit down with Abraham. When you say Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who are you thinking of? The patriarchs - The Fathers of the nation. 'By one spirit we are all baptized into one body,' Paul says. Anyway, we kind of ran out of time for the lesson. I think we covered most of it, but I want to remind those that missed it at the beginning, we do have a free offer we'll send you by Joe Crews called the riches of his grace.

If you'd like a copy, just call 866-788-3966 - it'll be on your screen - that's 866-study-more. We'll send it to you for free. You just need to read it and then share it with somebody else. God bless you. We look forward to studying together again next week.

Amazing Facts began in 1965 with a God-inspired concept. Hello, this is Joe Crews and the Amazing Facts broadcast - facts which affect you. These radio broadcasts would begin with an amazing fact from science, nature, or history, followed by a Bible message that touched the hearts of listeners from every walk of life. The program was an instant success and the ministry soon began expanding to include Bible lessons. In 1986 Amazing Facts added the medium of television to its growing outreach efforts, offering soul-winning evangelistic messages for viewers around the world.

In 1994, Pastor Doug Batchelor assumed leadership of the ministry, adding the Bible answers live call-in radio program and new ministry tv programs began airing on multiple networks around the world. For 50 years, the driving vision of Amazing Facts has been the bold proclamation of the everlasting Gospel and, with a team of evangelists circling the globe and thousands of men and women being trained through the Amazing Facts center of evangelism program - afcoe - the ministry is helping God's church see a rich harvest of souls. Amazing Facts - God's message, our mission. For life-changing Christian resources, visit afbookstore.com or call 1-800-538-7275.

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