Day 63: An Absolute Authority

Acts 11:1-18 :

Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. When Peter had come up to Jerusalem, those who were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men, and ate with them!”

But Peter began, and explained to them in order, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision: a certain container descending, like it was a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners. It came as far as me. When I had looked intently at it, I considered, and saw the four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat!’ But I said, ‘Not so, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered into my mouth.’ But a voice answered me the second time out of heaven, ‘What God has cleansed, don’t you call unclean.’ This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven. Behold, immediately three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent from Caesarea to me. The Spirit told me to go with them, without discriminating. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying to him, ‘Send to Joppa, and get Simon, whose surname is Peter, who will speak to you words by which you will be saved, you and all your house.’ As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning. I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John indeed baptized in water, but you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave to them the same gift as us, when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God?”

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!”

One of the many wonderful things about being a Christian, is that we enjoy an absolute authority in all things. There is only one God and no matter what we think, or what arguments we may have with someone else, there is only One who has the final word. Not only that, we see from the experiences of these Christians that we can come to know the absolute truth when we seek this absolute authority.

Many today have become disconnected from biblical principles and no longer believe in absolute authority or truth. This kind of tolerance actually brings war because it makes it impossible for there to be true resolution between people with different ideas. Here we had some Jews who thought that, as Christians, they were not allowed to visit Gentiles and eat with them and they disagreed with Peter.

To settle the matter, all Peter had to do was to point to what God had said and done and after that, the matter was settled between them. This matter would have to be explained again to others (as we still explain it today,) but when we trust a higher authority than ourselves, we can have peace with each other on these matters.

Notice that Luke doesn’t start the passage by saying that the people received the Holy Spirit, rather, he says they “had also received the word of God.” The Holy Spirit was given when they received God’s word. Peter repeats the idea at the end of the story when he says that the Jews received the gift “when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is important to not separate believing in the word of God from receiving the Holy Spirit because the Bible doesn’t separate them as we see here. This is not to say that the Holy Spirit always comes in a specific visible way. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit’s coming is not detectable on the outside as the Bible doesn’t require an outward show. In this case, the Holy Spirit was a sign to all of us that the Gentiles were accepted into Christianity.