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“(W)ho was I that I could withstand God?”

Acts 11:15-17 (NKJV)
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

Peter is describing the events that took place at Cornelius’ house, probably the most significant gentile convert to “the way.” After Pentecost, this is probably the most important event in the expansion of Christianity. Recognizing it’s significance, it is important to keep in mind everything that Luke describes that took place in Chapter 10, and what the apostles chose as the determining factors to evaluate one’s conversion:

Acts 10:44-46 (NKJV)
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God…

It is interesting that those “of the circumcision who believed” (that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he had sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the life of the believer ) only had one evidence to evaluate whether the “uncircumsicised” were the same as them in belief and experience – that is “they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.”

Still today the issue of tongues is misunderstood and divisive in the church. Yet it was the initial factor that united early Jew and Gentile believers as followers of Christ. It was not ritual. It was not doctrine. The thing that united men and women, Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor and identified them as believers is something that is described as “heavenly language.” When one is immersed into the life of the Spirit, it would naturally produce something that is “super-natural” – beyond our previous experience, but fully organic and natural.

The early church saw this as a natural (although not exclusive) part of a new “spiritual” life. I don’t know why today we rarely acknowledge the significance of tongues, and are even resistant to it? I love what Peter said in 11:17, “who was I that I could withstand God?” I wish that would be said of us today.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 3, 2010 11:22 AM.

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