And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, 'You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.'
But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence" (Acts 11:1-3).
Peter did something that appeared to the apostles and other Jewish believers to be a blatant contradiction of the Torah (Lev 20:25–26),
and most certainly against well-established Jewish customs (see Acts 10:28).
If ever someone had an opportunity to justify his actions by saying, "God told me," it was Peter (see Acts 10:20).
Peter was not at all offended by the question,
and did not simply wave the "Holy Spirit" card by saying, "God told me! That settles it!"
Rather, Peter takes the time carefully explain and defend his actions with all the supporting evidence: his vision (11:4-10); the perfectly timed arrival of the messengers (11:11); the Spirit's command to go without misgivings (11:12); the angel's message to Cornelius to send for Peter (11:13-14); the Spirit-baptism of the Gentiles before Peter finished his sermon in the presence of six other Messianic Jewish witnesses (11:12, 15); and Jesus' own word that Spirit baptism is greater than water baptism (11:16-17).
Does God still speak to his people today? Of course he does!
But because of the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jer 17:9), the devil's ability to masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) and to misquote Scripture (Matt 4:6), and our own struggles sometimes to discern between the voice of God and our own personal feelings, we must follow Peter's lead and joyfully accept the accountability that has to come with the claim that "God told me." For if we don't, we may find ourselves alienated from those who truly love us, and inadvertently accusing God for decisions sincerely made in violation of Scripture and according to our own flesh. "And the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Cor 14:32-33).
"While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.' ...
The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings" (Acts 10:19-20; 11:12).
I remember as a new believer wondering if I had been deemed worthy enough to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Because of my personal struggles, I had assumed there was more I needed to do before I could receive the Spirit: special prayers I needed to pray, personal changes I needed to make.
Luke's description of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10-11, however, gives us an entirely different perspective. It was the Spirit of God who urges Peter to go to Caesarea without misgivings or delay. It was the Holy Spirit who cuts Peter off mid-sermon to fall upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44; 11:15).
While it would be inappropriate to describe the Holy Spirit as impatient, in this narrative Luke describes the Spirit as someone who can no longer contain his excitement to make someone God's brand new child. While we have a tendency to conceive of Holy Spirit as a building inspector searching for every possible flaw, Luke's narrative reminds us that he is the Spirit of Adoption who graciously and excitedly desires to grow God's spiritual family! "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!'" (Rom 8:15).
"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins"
It's verses like these that make me want to spend the rest of my life studying the Old Testament. While the relationship between the Old Testament and Jesus is obvious to me in some cases, Peter's use of the word "all" (i.e., "all the prophets bear witness") make me realize many more yet-to-be-discovered treasures await me if only I will spend more time pouring over and meditating upon the Bible of Yeshua! "Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law" (Ps 119:18). "Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures" (Luke 24:27). "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
"While Peter was still speaking these words,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message"
Many a preacher (myself included), and many more of those who are forced to listen to them every week from the pews, wish the Holy Spirit would interrupt sermons far more frequently.
I suspect people would be a lot more excited to come to church if they came to the service
and not the preacher, is the speaker! "
And when I came to you, brethren,
I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom,
proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
For I determined to know nothing among you
except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1 Cor 2:1-5).