WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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TRUSTING THE SPIRIT
(Reaching the world together)
Acts chapter 11 begins with Peter arriving back at Jerusalem after spending several days with Cornelius, the Gentile believer and his family, in Caesarea. Cornelius and his house had just become the first Gentile family accepted into the Christian Faith and the HOLY SPIRIT had fallen fresh on them, just as HE had fell on the Jews at the last Pentecost celebration (Acts 2).
News of the Gentile conversion had already reached Jerusalem and the Jewish believers were waiting anxiously to rebuke and criticize Peter for his associating with Gentiles, and eating and drinking with them in their home. Such an action was a direct violation of their own Jewish laws that they had set up, apart from GOD, because Jewish men felt they were superior to Gentiles, Samaritans, and all women (Vs.1-3).
Luke wants us to realize the importance of the visions that GOD showed to Peter, and, to Cornelius, in the shaping of Christianity into an all-inclusive world religion. The Jews were already set to make this new ideology from the mind of GOD, just another sect of Judaism that would only include Jews into the club.
However, Luke is led by GOD to see these incidents as milestones along the way to building the only religion that can ever be indorsed by GOD HIMSELF. He wanted all mankind to see and realize that JESUS came, not only to save the Jews, but rather, HE came to save all humanity by giving them an opportunity to embrace the free gift of salvation through HIS vicarious sacrifice on the cross at Golgotha.
After Peter explained his vision from GOD that he received while still in Joppa, and how the HOLY SPIRIT had instructed him to go to Caesarea and witness to Cornelius’ family, it seemed to satisfy the Jewish assembly’s objections, and they began to praise GOD wholeheartedly moving forward.
Through the divine intervention of GOD, by way of Peter’s and Cornelius’ visions, the people were able to see how GOD had given the Gentiles the same privilege and opportunity to turn from sin, and to receive eternal life, as HE had afforded the Jews, beginning at Pentecost.
The Jewish people and their leaders were exceedingly glad about GOD’s plan for the new Church of CHRIST, and they began to look forward to sharing the Gospel with all the nations of the world in the future (Vs.4-18). And they trusted in the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD to lead, guide, and counsel them as they moved forward.
Here we see, perhaps for the first time, the Christian Church being thought of as “a body of believers” being held together, and accountable, only by the ideology of GOD HIMSELF. It was and is, an ideology that is meant by GOD to transcend all the racial, structural, organizational, and worshiping style differences of man, and bring them all together in fellowship and love.
“Christian Unity” is what JESUS prayed about in John 17, and it is also what the Apostle Paul wrote about to the Christian Churches in all of his doctrinal letters. It is a unity not born of bricks and mortar, but rather, it is a unity of personal relationships, not unlike the one that we’ve already seen between the FATHER and the SON, that will stand as an example to us for all time.
We as Christians can truly reach the world together, but first, we must prove to the world, through our behavior that, “Christianity really does produce the best men and women”. And until we can do that, no person in and of the world is going to ever take us serious.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website