Two weeks ago, in our blog, we were considering the Holy Spirit being poured out on Gentile believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We saw in Acts 10 how the Jewish disciples were utterly amazed that the Gentiles, who they had held a deep prejudice against, were receiving the Holy Spirit. Not only did the Jewish brethren hear the Gentiles speaking in tongues, but they heard them declaring the excellence and majesty of the living God of the universe. We next read, “For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them a few more days,” (Acts 10:46-48 NIV). One of the first things that Peter declared here is that the new converts to Jesus Christ should be baptized. It’s important to note that they didn’t have to go through a membership class or receive instruction on what baptism meant. Baptism is a public declaration of our conversion and should occur, for believing adults, as soon as possible after our salvation. God had so clearly accepted the Gentiles into His family of faith and their baptism would be evidence of their new experience and testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ. How good it is for us that the grace of God gives us the ordinance of baptism to declare what God has done for us.
It’s very important to say that the Gentile believers were baptized, not circumcised. If circumcision had been required, then Christianity would simply have become a sect of Judaism with another ritual added for Gentiles. I imagine that Peter was very astonished afterward when he reflected on all the things that had taken place. It’s important to note that water baptism does not make us saved, it just demonstrates the fact that we have placed our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as the basis of our salvation. Interestingly Peter stayed in Caesarea for a discipleship ministry after the believers were baptized. Baptism definitely is a part of discipleship, but discipleship does not end with baptism. Not only did Peter oversee the baptismal service, but he then proceeded to teach them the Word of God, as he had been instructed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember Jesus’s direction to Peter to feed his sheep in the Gospel of John (John 21:15-19 NIV). In staying with the Gentile believers in Caesarea Peter is confronting all his former prejudices. He stayed in the home of the Gentiles, he ate with them and he learned that those who receive Christ and the Holy Spirit still need further ministry in the Word. Jesus had modeled this very same thing in John 4 after leading the Samaritans into a personal relationship with Himself, then staying for several days to minister and disciple them. One of the sure proofs that we are moving forward in our spiritual lives is when we have a deep desire to understand the things of God and a larger acquaintance with the love and work of our Savior.
I don’t know how God takes the simple words of people to transform another person’s heart and life through the Holy Spirit into a child of God, but I’m thankful that He does. I’m also aware that when we are used as an instrument in God’s hands, He also changes our hearts and gives us an enlarged vision of who He is and what He can do. You would think that everyone in the early church would be rejoicing over the fact that the gospel has started to make inroads into the Gentile world. But next week we will consider the fact that not everyone was overjoyed by the salvation of the Gentiles. Until then, please continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the King’s service,
Pastor Rich Sivo