Saturday, July 30, 2022

2022.07.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 10:44–11:18

Read Acts 10:44–11:18

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Peter still doing (Acts 10:44)? What did the Holy Spirit do? Who were astonished (Acts 10:45)? What is the Holy Spirit called here? What had been done with this Gift onto whom? How did the Jews know that the Spirit had been poured upon these Gentiles (Acts 10:46)? What does Peter question whether it could be forbidden them in Acts 10:47? What would be done to them with this water? In what manner had they received the Holy Spirit? What does he command be done (Acts 10:48)? In what Name? What did they ask Peter to do? What two groups heard what in Acts 11:1? Where had Peter come in Acts 11:2? What were the Jews called here again (cf. Acts 10:45)? What was their specific complaint (Acts 11:3)? Where does Peter start his explanation (Acts 11:4-5)? What had he seen in the vision (Acts 11:5-6)? What command did he receive (Acts 11:7)? How had he responded (Acts 11:8)? But what did the voice answer about Peter’s exception to the command (Acts 11:9)? How many times did this happen (Acts 11:10)? When does Acts 11:11 occur? What happened? Who still had to command Peter at this point (Acts 11:12)? And what did the Spirit tell him not to do? How many “of the circumcision” came along? What did they all enter? Whom had the man seen (Acts 11:13)? What had the angel said to do? What had the angel said that Peter would do (Acts 11:14)? Who would be saved by these words? What happens as Peter begins preaching (Acts 11:15)? What does the Holy Spirit do? Whose word does Peter now remember (Acts 11:16)? With what had John baptized? And what did Jesus say would happen by the pouring and falling oat of the Holy Spirit? What had God done when (Acts 11:17)? Whom did Peter say that he would be withstanding if he forbade the water (verse 17b, cf. Acts 10:47)? How do they respond to hearing these things (Acts 11:18)? Whom do they glorify? How do they describe these Gentiles’ being saved?

Who is saving whom and how?  Acts 10:44-11:18 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these forty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that it is God Who grants repentance to life, by the pouring out of His Spirit, the gift of Whom He affirms and signifies by the pouring of water in baptism.

Faith comes by the pouring of the Spirit. Peter is telling them about believing (Acts 10:43), when suddenly it becomes apparent that the believing itself has happened. We had seen in Acts 9:34 and Acts 9:40 the power of the Word to give what it commands. Now we find out more specifically who applies that power: the Holy Spirit. He fell upon them (Acts 10:44b). He is a Gift Who was poured out upon them (Acts 10:45). It is the Lord Jesus Who did this pouring (Acts 11:16, cf. Mark 1:8, John 1:33, Acts 1:5), when the Holy Spirit fell upon them (Acts 11:15).

Faith is not immediately visible. But the Spirit makes them see His work by hearing. This time, it is Gentiles speaking in language that they do not know, probably Aramaic (Acts 10:46)—though those “of the circumcision” were astonished by it, the evidence was clear enough that they could not deny it!

So God demands that His church baptize with water. The Spirit has been given, been poured, and fallen. Peter asks, “Can anyone forbid (hinder, refuse, withhold) water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). In Acts 11:15, he describes that time, “the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.” 

We learn more of what’s behind Paul’s question in Acts 11:17. To not apply water in physical baptism, just as the Lord Jesus has applied the Spirit in spiritual baptism, is to “withstand God.” This is one reason why baptism could not be delayed. 

Though there are those who are baptized and later receive the Spirit (cf. Acts 19:5–6), when it is plain that someone has been brought to faith, there is a strong, urgent obligation to baptize him. The church is required to affirm on earth what Jesus does from heaven. The church is required to imitate with water what Christ does with His Spirit, to signify the method by which we are brought to faith and repentance. The church affirms this publicly for the honor of God and the strengthening of our faith. We need assuring that salvation is God’s divine work, and God helps us not only by the Word and by the Supper but also by the sacrament of Christian Baptism.

This baptizing glorifies God for being pleased to add to His church from all nations. God’s people, His church to use Stephen’s word about them from Acts 7:38, had been marked off by circumcision. Twice in our passage, believing Jews are called “those of the circumcision” (Acts 10:45, Acts 11:2) implying that they were still thinking of God’s people at that way. In fact, they less upset that Peter had baptized Gentiles than that he had entered the Gentile house and ate with the Gentiles (Acts 11:3). This was an error that Peter himself and even Barnabas would get carried into later (cf. Galatians 2:11–13).

But we are not of the circumcision, which belonged as a spiritual ordinance to just the one nation. Christ’s church can be called “of baptism,” which belongs as a spiritual ordinance to people of all nations. Baptism helps us do more than be sure that it is Christ Who saves; it turns our hearts to praise. “They glorified God, saying ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life’” (Acts 11:18). It is God Who decides who will repent. It is God Who grants repentance. And He is granting it to people from all nations. Each baptism we attend should stir up not only our faith but our praise!

If you believe in Jesus, how did that happen? If you don’t, then how can it happen? What must the church do with someone whom God adds to her? What are two ways that we should respond to Baptism?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You Who have poured out Your Spirit to give repentance and faith. Forgive us for when we are closed hearted toward anyone in Your church. Grant unto us to treasure them as marked off to Yourself, and to look to You for grace to complete the sanctifying and glorifying of us all in Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP67 “O God, Give Us Your Blessing” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

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