Day 21: Why God’s Word—And Knowing God’s Word—Is so Important (Acts 10:30-48)
Today’s Passage: Acts 10:30-48
Today, you and I are confronted with a myriad of choices. Right now, within the church, we are discussing and wrestling with issues that range from yoga pants to marriage…and everything in between.
We do this wrestling in front of the world.
As we wrestle to be faithful to God, we ultimately have to make decisions about situations. When we make these decisions, we will ultimately alienate some people. Yet we also know that we are supposed to making these decisions in a way where we are these people of grace, whose lives are so transformed by the love of God, that we are magnets through which the Holy Spirit draws everyone to the heart of the Father.
Feeling challenged enough?
You’re not alone. Check out today’s text…and at the end of this post I will share with you my general approach.
Today in Scripture, we read how Peter faces a huge dilemma. In his Jewish-Christian view of the world, neither he, nor God, associates with Gentiles.
That is the Law that he was raised with, and this Law came from his Holy Scriptures. Or did it?
Which is why knowing the Scriptures is so important.
Deuteronomy 10:17 and Job 34:19 speak specifically of God showing no partiality. Jeremiah 9:25 speaks of God punishing people who are both Jew and non-Jew. In Isaiah 9:2 God proclaims that light will come to people in darkness.
Peter stands on the threshold of a HUGE CHANGE for all of humanity. It is hard to overstate the situation.
This change is how people will understand the Most High God…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…that this God is FOR EVERYONE.
For Peter, the question was, “Is this really Okay? Is this ‘of God’?”
Does the Holy Spirit open Peter’s mind to…new information? NO! The Holy Spirit opens Peter’s mind to what Peter has been studying for years, God’s Word. “To him (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness that EVERYONE who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (verse 43)
Which brings me back to the opening dilemma. How do we know what choices to make, when we seemingly face so many? You will hear many say that what they are putting forward is from the Holy Spirit.
It very well may be, but the Holy Spirit will never direct anything contrary to the Word of God. Please read that again. The Holy Spirit will never direct anything contrary to the Word of God.
So, we each must read, study, and know the Word of God.
I write more thoroughly here about decisions and the Holy Spirit.
Let’s say you find yourself in a debate, with a fellow believer, and you both are using Scripture, and you both disagree—what do you do?
I indicated I would tell you how I try to behave in those situations.
I try to be a person of grace, and yet try and follow God’s Word.
When I find myself at odds with other believers, I work hard for unity, for oneness. Yet oneness does not have to mean we agree on everything. There are beliefs that are essential for all who claim to follow Jesus, and non-essentials. There is a phrase, “In the essentials—unity, in non-essentials—liberty, in everything—charity.” It has often been mis-attributed to Augustine (the 4thcentury fella), but research shows it to be a much more modern phrase.
The challenge of course is what is essential. For me it is found in the something called the Lambeth Quadrilateral. I am not asking for you to adopt this view. I am just suggesting we each have a view of our essentials…AND THEN…
And then, when we find ourselves at odds with people, after a sufficient time of mutual prayer, discussion, and discernment…we simply move on. Back in Acts chapter 5:34-39, a fella named Gamaliel advised that we leave people, who are claiming to follow God, and who we disagree with, that we leave them alone. He notes, if their views are against God they will sooner or later die of their own weight, for things that are against God do not give life. And if the views we disagree with are of God, we don’t want to oppose them. So, when I am confused, I follow this counsel. It seems good to me. (Remember good does not mean easy.)
It also allows me to not become overly embroiled in “in-side the church” issues. We need to engage issues in our culture, but we must be mindful of how we debate/fight internally. Done improperly, all we do is weaken the overall cause of Christ. So where do start?