One man's view of theology, sports, politics, and whatever else in life that happens to interest me. A little bit about me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

TOMS: Acts 10

For an introduction to this series, click here.

June 10, 2007

My computer monitor fizzled last week, so I went most of the week without a computer. No computer, no blog. But we're back now!

This chapter is one of the crucial passages in all the Bible. It tells the story of how Gentiles were brought into the Church. We are not sure exactly when this took place, but we assume it was at least a couple of years, perhaps longer, after the church began. For all of the church's existence up to this point, it was a Jewish religion. Kind of an offshoot of Judaism. The Apostles really had no idea that God planned to bring Gentiles into the family of Christ, even though there are hundreds of passages in the Old Testament about Gentiles coming to know the Lord.

Anyway, the story starts out by introducing us to a Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius. Here was a man who had been influenced somewhat by the Jews. He "feared God" which means he probably made sacrifices to God and possibly attended the synagogue. We are told that he prayed and gave alms. Then he saw a vision of an angel, appearing to him and telling him to send for a man named Peter.

Meanwhile Peter was seeing a vision of his own. He saw a vision of all kinds of unclean animals and a voice from heaven that said "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." (10:13) Peter refused, saying "By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." (10:14) God responded with "What God has made clean, do not call common." (10:15) Of course God was trying to introduce Peter to a new concept: that Gentiles were going to be welcome in the new church.

Peter learned his lesson well: "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection." (10:28-29) It was this moment that expanded the church to what it is today. The Apostles really had no idea what they were starting, but they just let the Lord lead.

Luke records that the people who believed began to speak in tongues: "While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God." (10:44-46, ESV) This passage more than any other demonstrates the true purpose of the gift of tongues. The gift was to demonstrate to the Jews that the church, and secondarily the expansion of the church to include Gentiles, was a legitimate work of God. Once there was no need to vindicate God's work, there was no need for the gift. 

I have a lot of questions and doubts as to whether any of the gifts described in the New Testament are for the church today. I know there are lots of people who try to differentiate between the gifts, saying that some are for today and some ceased, but nowhere in the Bible will you find that there was a difference between the gifts. Paul and the other New Testament writers treat them all the same. 

Maybe I have struggles with this topic because I don't see any sort of gift in my life. I also must say I have never heard any truly Biblical teaching on the subject that makes me want to believe in it. All I have ever heard is that gifts are an outworking of one's personality. The teaching either consists of stories demonstrating how different people approach life in the church differently or I am handed a bad "personality test" and then told what my gifts are based on the results. I'm sorry, but it's not miraculous when everybody has a different personality. When Paul tells the Corinthians to desire the best gifts, is he telling them to change their personality? Most teachers today would say no, but by their teaching Paul is telling the Corinthians to perform an impossibility. I don't know. I know God can change people's outlook and approach to life. I've seen it happen. Is that changing someone's personality? Perhaps it is. I would appreciate any feedback.

1 comment:

  1. I remember this explanation from many years ago: the gift was given until Jesus was born, crucified and risen.
    The gift is for every body who wants to accept it. There are people who receive it, others do not. It is like when the rain passes through and we are not in the area where it rained.