Acts 10:44-48 - The Spirit As Evidence of Salvation
Welcome to our Bible Study. We are studying Spiritual Applications in Acts. Our current series is about breaking the Gentile barrier. At Caesarea, it became clear to the early church that the Gospel was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. How did Peter know this? The Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Gentiles. Our text is Acts 10:44-48, and the title of my message is "The Spirit As Evidence of Salvation."
1. God interrupted Peter's sermon.
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. Some think that Peter was finished with his comment, even though verse 44 says that the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentile while Peter was still speaking. My view is that the Holy Spirit broke into the meeting in a supernatural way.
We do not know what Peter might have said next. We do know that on the Day of Pentecost, Peter concluded with this exhortation in Acts 2:38: "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." We note the sequence: (1) repent, (2) be baptized, and (3) receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
At the home of Cornelius repentance (Acts 11.18), baptism in water (Acts 10.48), and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 10.44) all became a part of the audience's experience. The sequence, however, was different than Acts 2.38 suggests. The Spirit came upon the Gentiles; then, they were baptized in water. Either sequence was acceptable. Both baptism in water and receiving the Holy Spirit are important aspects of Christian life.
2. the circumcised believers were amazed.
Luke tells us that the circumcised believers were amazed because the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Gentile believers. What Luke means is that the Jewish believers were amazed.They were circumcised in accordance with Jewish custom. No doubt they believed that no one could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit without first being circumcised. But God overruled their customs and religious restrictions. He poured out His Spirit upon the believing Gentiles.
We may well face similar situations today. It is our tendency to make people conform to our culture in order to be considered Christian and to be eligible for the gift of the Spirit. Many times God surprises us. He does things without going through our channels and our understandings. It is better for us not to put up barriers to people receiving God's gifts. God looks upon the heart, not upon our manmade rules.
3. Peter cites the convincing evidence.
Next, Peter tells us what convinced him that the Spirit had come upon the Gentiles. He said in Acts 10:46: "For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God." To demonstrate the presence of the Spirit, God chose to inspire the Gentiles to speak in tongues and to exalt God. This exaltation could have been in the other tongues and in their own languages. They were inspired of the Holy Spirit. Speaking in tongues was an evidence of the Spirit's presence which, in turn, was an evidence of salvation.
We know that all who come to faith in Christ immediately receive the Spirit. Then all believers are eligible to receive the gift of the Spirit in an empowering experience that all can observe. In the case of the Gentiles at Caesarea, this visible experience happened right away. Peter later said this was the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Today, we all have the opportunity to be baptized in the Spirit just as the Gentiles were.
How well I remember when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was 12 years old, and it was at a youth camp. A few of us prayed until the midnight hour. Then, the Holy Spirit came upon me and I spoke in other tongues. It was a glorious and empowering time in my life. I will never forget it.
4. the presence of the Spirit was an evidence of salvation.
When the Gentiles spoke in tongues and exalted God, Peter was convinced that the Spirit had been poured out upon them. The outpouring of the Spirit, in turn, was an evidence that God had accepted the Gentiles, and that they were saved. The gift of the Spirit demonstrated that the Gentiles had been granted (Acts 11:18) "repentance that leads to life." We are not to take lightly the presence of the Spirit. There are other evidences of salvation, but the presence of the Spirit is crucial.
Given the evidence they just witnessed, Peter says (verse 47), "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?" The uncircumcised Gentiles were eligible now for water baptism. The outpouring of the Spirit made this evident. They must now confess their faith in Christ through baptism in water.
In summary, at the house of Cornelius, God poured out his Spirit while Peter was speaking, the circumcised believers were amazed and had questions, Peter cited speaking in tongues as evidence of the Spirit's presence, and the Spirit's presence was the evidence that opened the way for baptism in water. His presence was evidence of their salvation. The baptism in the Holy Spirit is for us today. Let us ever and always seek His powerful presence in our lives and ministries.
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