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INTRODUCTION:

Saul is back in his home town, Tarsus. Peter, at this stage, is travelling the countryside. It would seem that the flow of conversions is not abating. But back at Headquarters in Jerusalem, not everyone is happy (8/14-17). Reports of Peter’s activities are disturbing the other Apostles who remained behind (8/1).

It’s one thing to reluctantly accept that God has poured out His Spirit on Jews and Samaritans. At least they were “distant cousins”. But Gentiles? Please, give me a break!!

This is a critical moment for Peter because criticism can bring good people undone. Don’t forget how he felt after denying His Lord just prior to the crucifixion. Now he returns to Jerusalem, not to a heroes welcome, but to a barrage of criticism. How Peter handled that criticism gives us some valuable insights as to how we can respond when we are the object of such attacks.

[1] SPEAK THE TRUTH (Vs.4-17)

a. Speak the truth. If the criticism is not based on the truth, then it won’t stand up in the face of truth. If the criticism is truthful and valid, then we should make whatever adjustments are necessary to align our response to the truth. Who knows what kind of reports reached Jerusalem before Peter arrived?! His only defence was to tell truthfully all that happened.

b. Speak the truth in love.  (Eph.4/15). Some people are so truthful, they can’t be loving. Others are so loving they can’t be truthful! Where there are differences among Christians, it is important to tell the truth but to do it in a loving manner.

c. Speak the truth in love where it counts. There was only one place where Peter should explain his actions and that’s face –to-face with his critics. Far too often we Christians make our defence in the wrong place and to the wrong people. If you have a problem with, say, the pastor or one of the Elders, where is the place you should express that problem? And who should be present?

d. Because the criticism was dealt with correctly or maturely, the end result was positive. (v.18). Criticism gave way to praise. What could have led to a major rift in the Jerusalem Church became, instead, a unifying dynamic.

[2] ENCOURAGE THE FAITHFUL (Vs.19-26)

a. Whatever happened to the “scattered Church”? (8/1) Read vs. 19-26. Everywhere they went they scattered the seed of the gospel. Some restricted themselves to Jews only. Others went as far as Antioch. If you have an atlas in the back of your Bible, take time to see how far the gospel impact extended.

b. Headquarters heard about what was happening at Antioch and they sent Barnabas to check it out.

c. So who is this Barnabas? Read the following verses and make a profile of this man

*Acts 4/36,37    *Acts 9/26, 27    *Acts 11/22-26    *Acts 11/27-30

d. He seems to appear just where and when he is needed. Do you know anyone who has these Barnabas qualities? If you are in a small group, you could be sitting next to one right now.

[3] PROPHECY AND PRACTICALITIES (VS. 27-30)

Here is an example of the blending of the natural and supernatural.

The Prophetic. This subject is way beyond the scope of these studies but it is important to recognise that there were recognised prophets functioning within and beyond the local Churches. One of them (Agabus) interrupted the Pastor’s sermon and predicted a great famine was coming. And  so it did (v.28)
The Practical. Apparently the selfless, generosity so obvious in Acts 2/42-47 was not dead after all. The purpose of the prophetic is always practical.

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