The Divine Response to Preaching
Peter had just preached his first sermon to the very first Gentile group to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had broken cultural tradition, so in-grained, it was like breaking the law of the land. Gentiles were no longer considered unclean. Granted it was easier for Peter to preach this message at the Roman city of Caesarea than at Jerusalem, but what was about to happen would fuel His preaching ministry for the rest of his life. Sharing Christ with others still has an increasing momentum effect, today.
In the midst of Peter’s sermon, the Holy Spirit “fell” upon those listening to the message (10:44). The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity (God is three persons in a community of one). Since, the day of Pentecost through until today, the Holy Spirit “indwells” the people of God. In times beforehand, He would “come upon” God’s people for a purpose God super-intended. Now, every believer in Jesus has the Holy Spirit “poured out” at God’s choosing to “regenerate” a person, in what is called, “the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
All of these words in quotation marks mean the same thing, the permanent “receipt” of the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Godhead permanently “abides” in the Christian. This is the sign of God’s ultimate salvation of this person from death in hell. The promise is captured in Jesus’ words to His disciples, “I will never leave you.” Salvation is a gift to the Christian (Eph 2:8–9); and here, the Holy Spirit is referred to as a “gift” also. This is not just a plan with a process, God is Salvation for lost souls.
The circumcised believers (Jews who had converted to Christianity) accompanying Peter were amazed (10:45). No doubt they had seen other Jews converted to Jesus Messiah, but what they witnessed at Caesarea was incomprehensible to their indoctrination into Judaism. Everything was new. God was clearly moving. They could hear it.
Gentiles were experiencing the miraculous transformation from fleshly tongues to heavenly tongues, loosed to exalt with their lips, praise to the God of Israel (10:46). Romans 10:12–15 gives us the visible method of our participation in the conversion process. The opening words in v. 12 are relevant to us, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all…” The apostle Paul continued to write the truth about elect souls whose hearts were opened to receive and respond to the Gospel message.
Men are sent by God to preach to all people. They hear about Christ, and some hear Christ. Those who hear Jesus calling them to Himself believe His Word to them. The message is Christ died for sinners, and He raises them from the dead. With the Holy Spirit having suddenly invaded their heart, mind, and soul, the person now joins others who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus as this first group of Gentiles did. Jesus is Lord and this person is no longer calling on any other named idol or deity. He belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Once they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, Peter argued there could be no objection for water baptism (10:47). Water baptism is a symbolic memorial of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It also symbolizes the purifying power of the Holy Spirit cleansing or sanctifying the new addition to God’s chosen people. The new creatures with new life living in them are publicly recognized as members of the body of Christ. “Baptidzo” is the Greek word for immerse. Each new man, now spiritually positioned in Christ, on this day at coastal Caesarea found much water there to obey Peter’s order for water baptism.
Baptism is the first step of obedience for the new believer and should be conducted soon after a valid testimony of faith is confirmed by local church leaders. Like midwives, we receive the new birth at the time of deliverance. God’s handiwork becomes visible to everyone as the midwives hold up the baby Christians before they get immersion bath. God’s immersion baths keeps us clean through the messy rest of our lives. God is good.
As we prepare to move on from Acts 10, we recount the work of God in providing visions for two strangers to have a divine encounter and appointment. One has the message of God’s salvation that the other man was appointed to receive. The walls dividing Jews and Gentiles crumbled and Peter walked through. Filled with the Holy Spirit and power, he faithfully preached Jesus Christ, the Gospel of God. The message was received from the very person who sent it, the Holy Spirit. Another person in the growing global network can hear Him now. By grace, God added to His church and revealed a portion of His plan to call in His people from every nation, every tribe, and every language in the world. A new nation is being born from across the ages, a future kingdom that will have no rival nor end.
His plan, seen so vividly in Acts 10, still works the same way for us today. We, who have received the Holy Spirit, now carry the message of salvation to all people everywhere. Some will hear us and believe.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 28, 2021