Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Story Of Saul, Now Paul, Part Three

The Story of Peter

So far we met Stephen. A man of great Faith, and one who was appointed by Peter and the other Apostles, as a Leader in the Early Church, to oversee the daily distribution of goods toward the people. A face of an Angel and wisdom of God. A man who was killed for Preaching the Gospel.

We then met, at Stephen's death, a man named Saul from Tarsus. An evil man who's total reason for being was to hunt down and to bring into bondage, anyone who believed in, and taught in, the name Jesus as the Christ. We saw that not only was he present at Stephens death, but was consenting to it.

Following this, we saw how Saul first met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul accepts the voice of God, as that of Jesus the Christ. Jesus tells him to go into the city, and he would be told what he should do. Saul obeyed and went. Blind and fasting for three days.

Then we met Ananias. A faithful man, Walking Worthy, so close to God that when Jesus spoke to him, he said "I am Here." God tells Ananias to go heal Saul. Reluctantly, and not joyfully at all, Ananias went and laid hands on Saul healing his Blindness, and Baptized him. Saul becomes a new creature. Saul in essence, dies. That evil man, hunter of anything to do with Jesus, now becomes Paul. Apostle and Saint.

Now Paul heads out, he starts boldly Preaching the Gospel of Jesus the Christ. He is not accepted well at first, as you can imagine. He is arrested. Stoned. And suffers many things. However, always faithful to the Gospel and always growing in Faith and knowledge.

While Paul is out doing his part of God's Plan, Peter is doing his. Now we all know Peter. Saint, Disciple of Jesus. The only other man in history to walk on water with Jesus. The one Jesus said "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." {Matthew 16:18} The one who denied Jesus three times. The one who decided to just go back to his life, following Jesus's Crucifixion, until Jesus returned and admonished him and those that went Fishing with him.

So Peter accepted his role as Leader of the early Church. HOWEVER, BIG however, he was NOT the first Pope. He was NOT preaching the Gospel to anyone who was not Jewish. He was with Jesus and most likely believed what Jesus said when He said,, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you." {Matthew 7:6} He was sent out, to preach by Jesus, when Jesus said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not." {Matthew 10:5} So Peter had nothing to do with teaching Gentiles ANYTHING. To him, they were dogs and swine. Oh he liked hanging out with them, but teaching them? No.

So Peter is on a rooftop Praying, when he has this experience.

Acts 10:
9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Now remember, Paul was appoint to Preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Peter was appoint to preach Jesus to the Jews. Now Peter sees this vision and has no clue what it means. He is doing what he was taught to do. He thought he was doing what God told him to do. He was being "holy" and not touching anything unclean. Now this? What does it mean. He is confused.
17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,

18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.
Cornelius is an Italian Centurion. He is not a Jew. He has nothing to do with Moses or the Law. But he is a man of Faith. He Prayed always. He gave alms, or goods and money to the Poor. He desired to know about this Gospel that he most likely heard something of. Who is this Jesus, King of the Jews? What is this Resurrection thing all about? Was this indeed God in the flesh? What is this healing and miracle thing all about? So God heard his Prayers. Saw his deeds. And appeared to him and said send for Peter "he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do." 

Now if Peter had not had this experience, had not been told by God, no longer call anything God cleanses common or unclean, when these men from Caesarea arrived, Peter would have in no way gone with them. Stupid Italians. Who do they think they are to come here and ask me to tell them the Gospel? They are not Jews. I will not go. I will have nothing to do with them.

However, now he understood that God can and does seek out the Heart. He has opened up Salvation to those worthy of it, not by Jewish blood, but by faith...
21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
So not only did Peter accept them, he brought them in, fed them, and gave them a place to sleep for the night. That most likely would have never happened either. Then in the morning, and went with them. Him and some others.
24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Notice the first thing he says to the group. It is not Lawful for me to be here. Meaning the Law of Moses. Not the Law of the Land. That according to the Law of Moses he should not keep company with, talk with, nor have anything to do with, anyone non-Jewish. But then notice how he puts this. "but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." "Any man." In other words, you have no idea the Heart of anyone but yourself. You do not know if God is using a certain person for His plans and purpose or not. You have no way of knowing who they are or what they are about. So Peter says "but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
Again, Cornelius is an Italian Centurion. Yet? He was Praying to God always. Giving to the Poor, and even Fasting. He most likely was reading the Torah or the Tanakh. He may have been sneaking in to the Temple to hear the Word. He was a man of Great Faith and one God spoke to directly.
34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
This is very important for you to understand. Peter said, God is no respecter of persons. In other words? "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." {Galatians 3:28} Then Peter Preached to them the Gospel.
35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
So here we see, Peter sees, the first non-Jewish conversion. This did not go over well with some Believing Jews. It tells us in Acts 11, that Peter had to recount the whole thing.

Acts 11:
1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them,
It goes on to retell the whole story.
16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?

18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Now this is important to understand. Unless this took place, Paul and Peter could never have met. We will talk about this meeting next time. You will clearly see that although Peter had this experience, he was still commissioned by Jesus Himself to bring the Gospel of Salvation through Faith and not the Law alone, to the Jewish people. Just as Jesus taught Peter all things, gave him the power in all things, and commissioned him to Preach to the Jews, Jesus did the same for Paul toward the Gentiles.

Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you been adopted into the Family of God? If not, say this Prayer. Right now. Wherever you may be. Say it in your own words, and do not doubt in your heart. God will hear you. He will send the Spirit of Life to you. Let us Pray..

"Oh heavenly Father, Lord God. I am a sinner. I know this. I know there is nothing I can do to change that. But I know you can. I accept Jesus's sacrifice for me. I repent my sins. Please send the Spirit of Adoption into my life. Help me to get to know the real you. Save me. Please. In the name of Jesus, Amen!"

That's it. It really is that simple. Now go tell someone what you have just done. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." {Romans 10:9} You need to find a Church that God leads you to, and be Baptized the way Jesus said to be. You are now a Child of God. A new Creature. You "have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." {Colossians 3:10}

If you want to tell me, or comment, question, give testimonials, or just say "Hi," the Email is opntalk@gmail.com

Until next time, be blessed, be a blessing, and Jesus IS Lord of all!

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