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Thursday, June 11, 2015

TOMS: Acts 11

For an introduction to this series, click here.

June 11, 2007

Peter came back to Jerusalem after opening the door of faith to the Gentiles and promptly gets himself in trouble. The people in Jerusalem could not understand how Peter could fellowship with Gentiles. There will always be people who find fault and criticize every new thing. But at least most of them seemed to respond positively after Peter told his story: "When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, 'Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.'" (11:18)

I guess at some level there is nothing wrong with skepticism. We all have beliefs and assumptions about life, about God, about just about every other topic you can think of, without knowing all the facts. The real problem begins when you don't do what the Jerusalem church did here. When you hang on to your worldview, your opinion, whatever, when there is solid evidence from a creditable source to disprove what you think, you need to be open-minded enough to admit you were wrong. Some folks have a hard time with that, don't they?

Meanwhile other Christians, instead of criticizing, took advantage of the new open door: "Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord." (11:19-21) These people took advantage of the new situation and began preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.

The end of this chapter has a section that is very strange: "Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul." These were true prophets, foretelling the future with the help of the Lord. Lots of people today say that when prophecy is mentioned in the New Testament that it is a reference to preaching. But that is simply not the case. Prophecy of the future was another miraculous work of the Spirit during this time.

Other than that, there really isn't a whole lot in this chapter to talk about.

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