6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
“10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
This meeting is happening years after Pentecost. Remember that Paul went off to Arabia for a few years, then back to Jerusalem, then back to Tarsus for at least 10 years, then to Antioch, then on his international mission trip.
But for all who were there, there is no forgetting Pentecost.
Peter stands up after all of this debate and reminds them of his old war story at the home of Cornelius. When we read it, it’s only a few chapters. For these folks, it was a memory 15 years old. The kids from Cornelius’ house were now adults. People had gotten married. People had children and people died of old age, accidents, or even persecution.
It was a long time passed, but the message still stuck. God has poured His Spirit out on the Gentiles. The question of converting to Judaism came up with Cornelius and everyone praised God that the Gentiles had their Pentecost. Now, 15 years later, the church remembered her roots.
Peter said it: “[The Holy Spirit] made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. ”
But Peter, they were pagans!
But Peter, they worked at the temple of Zeus just moments before they came to faith in Jesus!
But Peter, they eat the very foods that Moses said not to eat!
The best line of all – “Why do you put God to the test?”
Peter’s words would shake every believer that remembered the stories from the Exodus. Throughout the 4th book of Moses, “In the Wilderness” (aka. Numbers) the people put the Lord their God to the test. It was terrible. People died by the thousands. Now, Peter asks, “We’ve had our Genesis, do you want your Numbers?! Do you want to put God to the test by slowing down the Gospel with rules that we can’t even follow ourselves?”
Praise God that we are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus. Praise God that He doesn’t change over the course of 15 years or 5,000. Let us put no stumbling block before any new believers. God sees their hearts and saves them. Just like He did for all of us.
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