In this message we come to 11:1-18. First we shall consider certain matters covered in these verses. Then we shall pay particular attention to the need for a dispensational transfer.
Acts 11:1 and 2 say, “Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision disputed with him.” Circumcision was an outward ordinance inherited by the Jews from their forefathers, beginning from Abraham (Gen. 17:9-14), which made them distinct and separate from the Gentiles. It became a dead traditional formality, a mere mark on the flesh without any spiritual significance, and it became a great obstacle to the spread of God’s gospel according to His New Testament economy (Acts 15:1; Gal. 2:3-4; 6:12-13; Phil. 3:2).
In verse 3 those of the circumcision said to Peter, “You went in to men who are uncircumcised and ate with them!” Beginning with verse 4 Peter explained to them in sequence what had taken place. In verse 12 he says, “The Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing. And these six brothers went with me also, and we entered into the man’s house.” These six brothers were present as witnesses to Peter’s word while he was speaking.
In verses 15 through 17 Peter went on to explain that the Holy Spirit fell on those in the house of Cornelius, and Peter “remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized in water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit” (v. 16). Then in verse 17 Peter concluded, “If God therefore gave to them the equal gift as also to us, having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could forbid God?”
Acts 11:18 says, “And when they heard these things, they were silent and glorified God, saying, Then also to the Gentiles God has given repentance unto life.” In this verse the Greek word for “life” is zoe, referring to the eternal life (1 John 1:2), the life of God (Eph. 4:18), the uncreated, indestructible life (Heb. 7:16), which is Christ Himself (John 14:6; 11:25; Col. 3:4), the very embodiment of the Triune God (Col. 2:9), as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45), of which life the Spirit is (Rom. 8:2), received by the believers through their faith in Christ (John 3:15-16) after repentance for their full salvation (Rom. 5:10). The gospel preached by Peter comprises the divine blessings not only of forgiveness (Acts 5:31; 10:43) and salvation (2:21; 4:12), but also of the Spirit (2:38) and life. Forgiveness deals with people’s sins, and life, with people’s death (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14; 2 Cor. 5:4).
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