Sunday School Material 10-25-15: Peter Defends His Actions

(Acts 11:1-18a; 10/25/15)
Introduction: A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is Peter defends his ministry, before those in Jerusalem. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to obey God and work through our conflicts with one another, in a godly way.

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Read Acts 11:1-3

I. Objection to Gentiles. In our Sunday School material the word was out that Gentiles were being saved. When Peter went to Jerusalem to report on his experiences, there were some circumcised believers. They criticized Peter, because he broke the tradition regarding there being no interaction with the uncircumcised.

Applications –

-Spreading the Gospel, instead of gossip. Notice in vs. 1 how quickly the word spread. It is sad to see how quickly gossip spreads today and how slow good news spreads. Let’s work on being those who spread good news.

We should be telling people about what God is doing in our personal lives, in our church, and in our family.

- Criticizing. Notice in vs. 2 that there were those who criticized Peter’s ministry, primarily because they did not understand it. We should learn from the mistakes of those in the Sunday School material.

We should learn to understand, before we cast our condemnation or endorsement. Quick unfounded judgments often are wrong judgments that lead to discord among believers.

The devil loves for this to be the case, but God wants us to work on being more prudent and loving towards one another. Let’s work on withholding our judgments, until we understand the issues at hand.

Read Acts 11:4-17

II. Consideration of Evidence. Peter recounts what happened. He talks about how he saw a vision, while he was praying. In our Sunday School material the Spirit urged him to go with the men at his door. He and other men went to Cornelius’ house. There the Spirit fell on the listeners, as He did in Jerusalem.

Applications –

-Telling the story. Notice in vs. 4 that Peter shared the whole story. There are times when the best thing to do is tell people what happened, starting at the beginning. We cannot assume that those who have not experienced what we experienced understand what is going on.

“Yes” there are times when people don’t listen or they listen with a mind to simply argue (see II Tim. 2:16). But there are also times when telling the story can help those who have ears to hear. Let’s work on discerning when to explain what is going on.

- Prayerful flexibility. Notice in vss. 5-10 that Peter prayerfully allowed God to change Him. First, we need to work on our prayer lives. We should have regular times to pray (i.e., adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication [inc. intercession]), and we should pray when special situations come along.

Second, our greatest desire should be to do God’s will. God’s will for us today may be different than it was yesterday, and it may be contrary to what we prefer.

However, God’s way is best. We should pay special attention to what God is calling us to do to help people get right with Him and to grow in Him. Let’s work on being prayerfully open to what God would have for us to do.

- Sendable men. Notice in vs. 11 of our Sunday School material that there were some sendable men. There is such a need for men who have the character, competencies, and chemistry needed to aid the advancement of God’s work.

Some are very competent but don’t have enough humility in their character to be sent. Some have the character but not the competency. And then some lack the chemistry - the ability to get along with the one who is sending and the ones they are being sent to.

Let’s work on supporting our men becoming more sendable. Think about how we need especially our men ministries to help send our men to their families and our communities to be godly influences.

- Telling the tree by the fruit. Notice in vs. 17 that we can tell the tree by the fruit that it bears, not by our stereotypes. The Gentiles bore the fruit of being saved, in spite of the stereotypes associated with being a Gentile.

In like manner, we need to work on discerning the fruit of others and bearing fruit ourselves. Stereotypes can be so inaccurate. Let’s work on responding to the fruit that we see and bearing the fruit that God is calling us to bear.  

A good way of thinking about the “speaking in tongues” found in our Sunday School material is to think of it as confirmation that the same Holy Spirit who fell on those in Jerusalem has now fallen on those in Cornelius’ house. 

We should remember that someone could understand what was being said (it was not simply jibberish). We should not think that we need to speak in a foreign tongue, in order to be saved.

Read Acts 11:18a

III. Acceptance of Gentiles. Those who heard Peter’s account are noted for first of all listening. After they listened, they had no objections. And they are noted for praising God.

Applications –

- Listening, trusting, and praising. Notice in vs. 18a of our Sunday School material that the people listened; with apparent faith in God, they raised no more objections; and they praised the Lord. In like manner, our families and churches would be so much further along, if we spent more time listening.

We cannot listen and talk at the same time. We could be so much further along, if we learn how to trust God. There are some questions that will only be answered by the Lord (i.e., we will understand it better by and by).

And we would be further along, if we give God more praise. Praise Him for what He has done, is doing, and what you are trusting Him to do. Let’s work on listening, trusting, and praising God.

Conclusion: Let’s work on obeying God and working through our conflicts with one another, in a godly way. God has much for those who obey His will.

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