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INTRODUCTION:

It was on a roof top in Joppa when Peter had an experience with God

Acts chapter 9 gives us a fairly detailed account of the event that ultimately saw Saul transformed from the arch-enemy of Christians to possibly the greatest advocate of Christianity ever (The Lord Jesus Himself being the exception).

Now it’s Peter’s turn to undergo a similar experience that will transform him from being an exclusivist Jew to understand that the gospel is universal. His experience was not as dramatic as that of Saul.  It wasn’t on a road and it was nowhere near Damascus but it did reach into the very core of his being. It involved a vision. It involved God sending people to him like He had sent Ananias to Saul.

In the last session we met Cornelius. You could refer to the profile you developed then. We left Cornelius in a state of bewilderment, having interacted with an angel of the Lord in a vision. Nonetheless, he obeyed the directions given and sent his entourage to Joppa.

 [1]  PERFECT TIMING ( VS.9-21)

The 3 man squad from Cornelius are arriving at Joppa. But Peter isn’t ready for them.

  1. He doesn’t even know they are coming

  2. If the imminent vision doesn’t happen soon, Peter will not accept the men or their message.

  3. Peter’s only interest is lunch! But Jewish food laws were (are) very strict. (v.14)

  4. What do you make of the vision of the sheet? What is the lesson for Peter? For us? (v.17)

  5. “No, Lord!” do you see the irony? If you say “No” you can’t call Him “Lord”

  6. Peter is absolutely focussed on the vision – “perplexed”. He is now ready for his visitors though initially he doesn’t know that.  “Just then…” What suspense! What timing!

  7. V. 23 – we have no idea the significance of this statement. “Peter invited the men to stay for the night. Eating food that is not Kosher. Extending hospitality to gentiles.

Like Saul, Peter’s world view has been radically dismantled and changed forever.

[2] PROMPT OBEDIENCE  (VS.22-33)

a. No arguments from Peter. God had spoken through that vision of the sheet. Peter promptly obeyed.

b. Cornelius responded to Peter inappropriately (vs.25, 26) and Peter corrected him. “Beware of the leader who will let you and encourage you to ‘worship’ him or her”. Have you encountered this dynamic?

c. v.33 – a preacher’s dream congregation!! Notice the two pivotal “But God…”  (v.28 and v.40)

 

[3] POWER PREACHING  (vs.34 – 48)

a. Using Peter’s message, talk together about his notes in the pulpit. In other words, itemise the key points out of his sermon. Notice what happened when he got to the part about forgiveness of sins

b. For all the good he had done (vs.1-3) Cornelius did not have the life of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins. But notice the extent to which God went to bring Cornelius into His Kingdom.

 

A thought about “tongues” in this context: These episodes were necessary to show the Jews that the experience of the Gentiles of the Holy Spirit was the same as what happened on the Day of Pentecost  (vs.47, 48). Otherwise the Jews might treat the Gentile experience as a poorer or lesser kind.

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