It is so exciting to see a church gain a fuller understanding of God’s eternal plan and purpose for us who have received the grace of God. For the church in Jerusalem, it took a crisis. Peter was given a vision from heaven that began a change in his heart toward the Gentiles. After his encounter with Cornelius and his household, it was undeniable that God intended the gospel to reach beyond the Jew and gather in from every tribe, tongue and people group from all over the world to be part of the Church. The challenge was convincing the ‘mother church’ in Jerusalem where the Church began. Events at Antioch had to take place first along with the expansion from this vibrant church into Asia Minor, before Jerusalem would be fully on board with God’s plan.
At a special gathering of apostles and elders in Jerusalem, witness was given to what God had been doing since Peter received that vision. “And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and He made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8–9). Notice that the proof of God expanding the gospel to the Gentiles without additional requirements was not in what the apostles did, but in the divine action--God giving the Holy Spirit!
The proof that any movement is of God is in what He is doing, not any planned program of man. Peter was obedient to the message from heaven. The Antioch church was obedient to the Holy Spirit. Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit, confirmed by the Antioch church. God used their preaching in the face of opposition and persecution. Allowing Gentiles into the Church was a divine mandate, not a human program, because “He made no distinction between us and them”.
Do you look at different people groups the same way God does? How does your view of God’s plan affect where you present the gospel?
Link To Our Old Blog: