Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Devout Unbeliever!


While reading the account of Cornelius in Acts 10 this morning, I was struck with the similarity between this story and the happenings in chapter 2. Now you might ask, what was so much the same? After all Peter's audience's were completely opposite; Jews vs. Roman heathens. However as I read, I began to notice some striking comparisons, actually quite revealing I believe.

I have touched on the account of Acts 2 in a previous post, so I will simply begin by showing the similarities and then some contrasts I have noticed. First of all, both the Jews and Cornelius are described as being devout. Furthermore the Centurion was a man who gave generously and prayed often. Even the Jews in Jerusalem were not credited with being given to prayer or alms.

To me the stark contrast appears in Peter’s presentation of the gospel and the respective audience's response to the same. In the 2nd chapter, Peter commands the Jews to repent, but in chapter 10 even while he is yet speaking, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon those that heard the word. There is no mention of repentance or even the hint of it in this chapter, yet the Spirit was given to these Gentiles in such a way that they began to speak in tongues and glorify God.


Peter's command to the Jews was to repent and be baptized and then they would receive remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But the gentiles received the Holy Spirit while Peter was still speaking. Is that not a striking difference? What was it that the Jews needed to repent of? While they were sinners as much as the Centurion, they had also rejected the claims of Christ beforehand, and were even guilty of His crucifixion. Therefore they needed to publicly acknowledge their complicity with Christ's death by openly repenting and confessing.

This is just a short comment, but I found it most interesting. Please let me know your thoughts and insights on these passages.

God's richest blessings.

10 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

It is significant that the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit directly, instead of through the apostles laying on of hands.

This sets up the pattern for the new work of God amongst the Gentiles. The apostles minsitry was focused on the Jews.

According to the pattern of prophecy, the Jews would spread the Gospel to the Gentile sfrom Jerusalem. However, the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews lead to the closure of the Jewish dispensation and the openning of the Church to the Gentiles. Saul or Paul, a new apostle was therefore called.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Jim said...

Interesting thoughts Matthew, I am beginning to realize more and more the different levels of the scriptures. God has hidden wonderful truths in His word that only revelation will disclose.

Antonio said...

Jim.

In Christendom we all tend to blend distinctions away.

Justification is not the same as forgiveness of sins nor receiving the Holy Spirit.

I believe that the Jews had eternal life and justification before they were "familialy" (temporally) forgiven of their sin of Christ's crucifixion.

God gave them the requirements of baptism and repentance in order to be forgiven. The Holy Spirit came when they were forgiven.

God in any age can give whatever requirement He desires to have familial/temporal forgiveness and fellowship with Him.

For those in the O.T. there was the sacrificial system. For us in the Church, we must confess our sins to God for forgiveness, and walk in the light as He is in the light for fellowship.

For the Jews of Palestine, God required repentance and baptism, for they had the unique guilt of Christ's crucifixion.

I could go on farther, but I think that you should read Zane Hodges great book "Harmony with God" it is very short and the unabriged text is in .pdf format on the Chafer Theological Seminary website in 3 installments in their back issues journal area.

Zane goes into these verses and gives a beautiful exposition.

Antonio

Jim said...

Thanks Antonio, you raise some interesting points here.

However, is not the Holy Spirit the seal or pledge of our salvation? Is that not the moment when we are united with Christ? Can a person be justified and not have the Spirit of Christ? Just some questions I have.

But I guess maybe I should read some of Zane Hodges writing to get a better idea of where you are coming from.

Much grace in Christ.

Antonio said...

A person can be regenerated and justified without receiving the Holy Spirit.

Abraham was justified. Jesus talks about regeneration by the Spirit in John 3, but because you are regenerate, does not mean that you have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus was a teacher in Israel pre-pentacost that Jesus says that he should have known these things. Regeneration has been hapening from the beginning, being a minstry of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is in distinction to His regenerative ministry.

I hope these help.

Antonio

Jim said...

Antonio, that leaves me a bit confused? Are you saying regeneration can happen apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

Doesn't scriptures say that the Spirit was not yet poured out?

Does not regenerate mean "give life to"?

If a regenerated one does not necessarily have the Spirit, when does he get the Spirit?

In Christ,

Jim

Antonio said...

John 3:5-11

5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him,"How can these things be?"

10 Jesus answered and said to him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?
NKJV

Jesus had told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again (regenerated). Nicodemus didn't understand, but Jesus scolded him for being a teacher in Israel and didn't know these things. The Spirit can impart new life without haveing mystically put the believer into the body of Christ, and indwell him. This is pre-pentecost.

Abraham and all the OT saints HAD to be regenreated, born again, for without that, they could not enter the kingdom of God. Yet they were pre-pentecost and therefore were regenerated by the Holy Spirit but not indwelt by Him.

Antonio

Jim said...

Antonio, may I ask you another question?

What did Jesus mean when he said that the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than John the Baptist?

Antonio said...

Jesus was extolling the virtues of John, the one who was privleged to announce and make ready Christ's entrance into ministry.

But to put things into persepective, Jesus makes a contrast.

The one considered least in the kingdom of God (the kingdom that Christ will initiate at His return) is greater than the greatest person born of a woman into this earth in this temporality.

John was a great man and prophet, but let's get perspectives clear here. Being the greatest in this present world order is nothing compared to being even the one considered least in the future kingdom of God.

That is why people should "Strive to enter through the narrow gate," (Luke 13:24). To strive, seeking the comprehension on how one appropriates the grace of God that brings reconciliation and eternal life.

Jesus is the narrow gate, the door, and faith alone in Him is how one enters.

On a side note, here is a reference that must boggle some who oppose my position:

Matt 5:19
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
NKJV

I hope I answered your question satisfactorily,

Grace to you brother!

Antonio

Jim said...

Hmmm...let me ponder over that one for a while.

Thanks again!