International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday October 25, 2015
Purpose: To confirm that God’s call to salvation is to all people
Bible Lesson: Acts 11:1-18
Key Verse:"If God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who am I? Could I stand in God’s way?’ (Acts 11:17)
Bible Lesson: Acts 11:1-18 (CEB)
(1) The apostles and the brothers and sisters throughout Judea heard that even the Gentiles had welcomed God’s word. (2) When Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him. (3) They accused him, “You went into the home of the uncircumcised and ate with them!” (4) Step-by-step, Peter explained what had happened. (5) “I was in the city of Joppa praying when I had a visionary experience. In my vision, I saw something like a large linen sheet being lowered from heaven by its four corners. It came all the way down to me. (6) As I stared at it, wondering what it was, I saw four-legged animals—including wild beasts—as well as reptiles and wild birds. (7) I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!’ (8) I responded, ‘Absolutely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’
(9) The voice from heaven spoke a second time, ‘Never consider unclean what God has made pure.’ (10) This happened three times, then everything was pulled back into heaven. (11) At that moment three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. (12) The Spirit told me to go with them even though they were Gentiles. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered that man’s house. (13) He reported to us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is known as Peter. (14) He will tell you how you and your entire household can be saved.’ (15) When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as the Spirit fell on us in the beginning. (16) I remembered the Lord’s words: ‘John will baptize with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ (17) If God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then who am I? Could I stand in God’s way?” (18) Once the apostles and other believers heard this, they calmed down. They praised God and concluded, “So then God has enabled Gentiles to change their hearts and lives so that they might have new life.”
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This text is a repeat of last week’s text, as Peter retells the story. Those circumcised Jews that lived in Judah and Jerusalem became disgruntled with Peter when he broke some of the traditional laws of the Jewish community. The early believers and followers of Jesus, were convinced that the Jewish laws were still to be obeyed and honored. In order to be a follower of Jesus, you would first have to become a Jewish believer.
That is the dilemma Peter faced, entering a home and eating with Gentiles was strictly forbidden within the Jewish community. That God was opening up the opportunity for everyone, whether Jew or Gentile, to enjoy the privileges and benefits of knowing Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, seemed unlikely to the Jews.
It was only after Peter’s response, and the witnesses that had accompanied him, that the believing Jews started accepting what Peter shared. Once they heard Peter and those with him, relay that the same Holy Spirit they had experienced at Pentecost was given to this group of Gentiles, they accepted it.
Now the Good News of Jesus the Christ was available for all who believed. Suddenly what had been restricted to a small group or tribes was available for all. This was a world changing phenomenon.
Today we may be somewhat like those early believing Jews. We think our way is the only way, but we should never restrict God to our ways. God has made Himself available to everyone and how he accomplishes that, is up to Him.
There is a great old hymn that says it best, “God’s Way Is the Best Way.”