“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.” – Acts 10:44-48
For thousands of years, the nation of Israel was set apart by God. As his chosen people, the Israelites had a special relationship to the Lord. They were called to be a blessing to the nations. Their lives were to reflect God’s glory. They were to worship the one true God and live according to the 10 Commandments, so that they honored God and each other.
Sadly, the nation of Israel turned away from the Lord. Instead of living into their chosenness, they adopted the practices of the cultures around them. They wanted a king like other nations. They worshipped idols like other nations. And so, the fabric of their own nation fell apart. Jesus came to draw his people back to himself and to the Father. He taught the scriptures in the synagogues, in the streets, and on the hillsides. He demonstrated the power of God through healings and miracles. Still, many Jews did not believe. They rejected their promised Messiah and continued in the ways of empty religion.
For those who came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, life completely changed. They came into a new, intimate relationship with the triune God. Instead of just hearing about the Lord, they now experienced him through the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, the church was growing rapidly, not only in numbers, but in strength and vitality. And it wasn’t just the Jews who were coming to faith, but also the nations.
In our reading from Acts for this Sunday, Peter has been summoned by the centurion of the Italian cohort, Cornelius. Both men had received visions from the Lord. Cornelius was told to call for Peter. Peter was told that he should not call common or unclean what God had made clean. Peter broke all societal norms for his day and entered the home of this Gentile. There he proclaimed the word of God, who Jesus was, and what was available for those who put their trust in him. Before Peter could even offer an altar call, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon these people. They began worshipping the Lord and speaking in tongues. Even the Gentiles were to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!
As Peter told Cornelius and those gathered at his home that day, all who proclaim the name of the Lord and put their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved. With that salvation comes the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was available then, and it is available today. May we believe and receive, then continue to build the church by telling others what Jesus has done for us and what he can do for them.
Reflect & Respond:
Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit? How are you sharing that gift with others? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. Gather your small-group to go through The Spirit Filled Life, a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
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