Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Acts Studies|
Ch. 9 & 10
Chapters 9 & 10
Chapter: Acts 9
Passage: Acts 9:32-43
A. Find Out:
1. What was Peter doing? v.32
2. Who did he come across and what did he say and do? v.33,34
3. What happened as a result? v.35
4. Who was Dorcas and what happened to her? v.36,37
5. What happened when they sent for Peter? v.38-41
6. What happened as a result? v.42
Peter having been drawn out of Jerusalem by the needs of the new believers in Samaria, now perhaps on his way back, comes to Lydda. Here he is confronted with a paralysed man who he heals with a word of command. The result is that many others were convinced and became believers. This is power evangelism!
Meanwhile in nearby Joppa, one of the Christian ladies falls ill and dies. Her friends immediately send for Peter who comes and quickly raises her to life! Again, as a result of this, many people believe and are saved. From these two incidents we see two things.
First, observe the way Peter operates. In both cases he works in exactly the same way he had seen his Master work (see Mk 2:11 and 5:40 -41). Faith flowed in him and he just did what he had watched Jesus doing. He had learnt by example. May we do the same.
Second, note what comes from these two healings: many people believed. Jesus does use the miraculous to confirm seeking people's faith. We should want healing for the sake of the sick people, but we may also expect it to impact the unbelieving-but-seeking onlookers. Those who are hard hearted will not believe whatever they see but seekers will be confirmed-believers by such “signs”.
1. Jesus gives us an example to follow (see Jn 14:12 )
2. Jesus delights to heal the sick (see the Gospels!)
A. Find Out:
1. What was Cornelius? v.1
2. How is he described? v.2
3. What happened to him? v.3
4. How was he affirmed? v.4
5. What was he told to do? v.5,6
6. So what did he do? v.7,8
Luke now turns to one of the most significant incidents in the life of the early church, the clear bringing in of the Gentiles. Who does God choose to show this is His will for His church? A devout God fearing man who prays. He is a family man and a man of responsibility and authority. There is also an element of humility and mercy about him, for we are told he gives to the poor. He is a kind man. He is the man God has chosen to show the largely Jewish church that His plan is for the Gentiles as well as Jews.
Cornelius has a vision; he is awake and suddenly everything else disappears and all he sees is an angel who speaks to him. The angel first reassures him and then instructs him. The instructions are interesting! They tell him what to do but not why! He is simply to send for a man who is at a certain place. What is also interesting is that Cornelius doesn't ask questions. He simply receives the message and obeys it. Here is a man if simple child-like faith who obeys God, and this man isn't even a Christian! What a challenge he is to us, even before he becomes a true believer. Can WE say we are devout, God-fearing, pray regularly and give to the poor? If not we are less than this non-Christian!
1. Can I match Cornelius's description?
2. God looks for such people to speak to and through.
A. Find Out:
1. What was Peter doing and what happened? v.9,10
2. What did he see? v.11,12
3. What was he told to do & what was his response? v.13,14
4. What was he told & how many times did it happen? v.15,16
5. What then happened & what was he told? v.17-20
6. So what then happened? v.21-23
Cornelius's men are on the way but, as things stand at the moment, they won't be received. So, the Lord intervenes and deals with Peter. He speaks while Peter is praying and, while Peter is hungry, He uses food to convey His message. The vision is simple: food comes from heaven but it comprises animals that Jews would consider unclean, not fit to eat. He's told to eat them but he balks at that. Then comes the key: “Don't call anything impure that God has made clean” or, if you like, don't refuse what God says is all right! Now this cut across all of Peter's former understanding, for in many ways he is still a good Jew!
Then, before Peter has time to think about all this, Cornelius's men arrive. The Holy Spirit can now speak into Peter's prepared heart: receive them! Peter, who previously wouldn't go near Gentiles, went down and met them and invited them in ! Before he may not have understood that God's heart was also for the Gentile part of the world, but at least he is obedient to his Lord's leading. We'll also soon see more of his Jewish pride, but for the moment let's just rejoice in his initial response. Jew and Gentile are coming together!
1. Have we set our hearts in a particular doctrine that is actually contrary
to God's heart? Are we open to Him to speak to us about it?
2. God loves all people, whatever they look like, whatever their culture and
He wants us to take His love to them. Can He send us?
A. Find Out:
1. Who went with Peter? v.23
2. Who were with Cornelius? v.24,27
3. How did Cornelius greet Peter? v.25
4. What was Peter's response? v.26
5. How did Peter explain his presence with them? v.28,29
6. How does Cornelius explain his side of things? v.30-33
Peter has had his instructions from the Lord and so he goes. He is going to a Gentile and, because that is unusual, he takes along a number of other Jewish believers from Joppa. When they arrive Cornelius has obviously had word that they are on the way and has gathered his family and friends to hear what Peter is going to say.
Cornelius gives Peter the greatest acclaim possible, too much in fact, but that is how he feels about this “man of God”. Peter, on the other hand, it could be suggested, explains himself in somewhat condescending terms, basically saying, “I'm not supposed to meet with you Gentiles but as God's told me to, here I am”. Is there a measure to which the church was still as blind to God's purposes as the Jews had been beforehand (Do a study on “to the nations” and “to the Gentiles” in the Old Testament).
God's heart was to reach all men, yet many in the early church were still bound to their Jewish unbelief. Later on when the apostle Paul started on his missionary journeys he mainly went to the Jews in their synagogues. It was only when the Jews rejected him that he eventually went to the Gentiles. When we have settled for one way of thinking for much of our life, it is very difficult to adjust, even if it is God who is telling us to change.
1. We need to keep a humble spirit
2. We need to be open to all people; God loves them.
A. Find Out:
1. What had Peter come to realise? v.34,35
2. What did he say they knew? v.36-38
3. Of what does Peter say they were witnesses? v.39-41
4. What had they been commanded to do with what result? v.42,43
5. What then happened? v.44-46
6. What did Peter then instruct should happen? v.47,48
Peter acknowledges, after hearing Cornelius's story, that God accepts Gentiles as well as Jews. He assumes that Cornelius had heard about the coming of Jesus and all that he did, but he then adds that they, the apostles, were witnesses to the resurrection. He also explains that belief in Jesus is the basis for forgiveness of sins.
It is significant that what happened, happened at this point in Peter's preaching. We know the hearts of Cornelius and his friends were wide open to God, and so it is at the point that they hear about forgiveness of sins through Jesus (and presumably believe it), that the Holy Spirit comes on them. Note this clearly, they believe and then He comes. The evidence of His coming was that the listeners all started breaking into tongues and praising God. That was their heart response to the message they had just heard and it was then enabled by the Spirit.
This was of course, the first time that the Spirit had come on the Gentiles in such a manner. As on the Jews on the day of Pentecost, so this was a clear and visible sign of God's approval and acceptance of these people. It amazed the Jewish believers but they could not argue with it! All that remained was for these new Gentile “believers” to be baptised for it to be sealed, and they were.
1. A believing heart is one for the Spirit to come to.
2. When He comes, there is no doubt.
In this second group of 5 studies we have seen :
Historically, this was a mile stone for the Church, the time when it was clear that God accepted the Gentiles as well as Jews.
Personally, this was a time of great turnabout for Peter, when his whole thinking was transformed by God.
To us, this should be seen as a great challenge: do we have divisions within our minds as to those who acceptable to God and those who are not?
1. Jesus is to be our supreme example to follow in service
2. God delights to heal the sick
3. God looks for the open hearted to come to
4. God loves all people
5. God wants us to be open to all people with a humble heart.
Ask the Lord to help you be open hearted to all people.
PART 3 : "Interlude"
In this next Part we'll see Peter back in Jerusalem , a brief glimpse of Saul again, and then an amazing escape by Peter from prison. This is really an interlude between the events we've just read, of the door to the Gentiles being opened, and the sending out of Barnabus and Saul to the Gentiles. It's mainly about the Jerusalem church but soon it will be about going to the world.