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October 25, 2015
“Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift!”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. Blessings!)
Think about one going to trial for a claim or a case. In both instance you’ll have present a plaintiff and a defendant; one who is placing a charge in the case and one who is making a defense against said charge. Regardless of the side, evidence has to be collected to support the reason for one being there. Often, play by play details of what occurred needs to be submitted to support one’s claims or case, or to exonerate one from being prosecuted. For either side, accuracy is important. Details and the support of those details through evidence makes all the difference.
Our lesson this week piggy backs off of last week’s lesson. As a matter of fact, most of this week’s lesson is covered verse by verse in last week’s lesson. One may wonder why the repeat? Why should we cover detail by detail what we just learned?
The same reason we discussed in the case above: the details are important. The retelling of what occurred was important. Accuracy of what happened being spoken up for and recorded was vital because this new church was about to experience a huge shift from their former belief system. The system they had adhered to from generation to generation was undergoing a radical change and in order for this move to take place, evidence had to be meticulously submitted for the people to let go of their old way of thinking to stretch out into the new.
In order to see past their former beliefs, they had to learn not to judge people from where they came from or who they were before Christ. They had to learn to look through eyes of faith and see who they are now: a child of God.
As stated in last week’s lesson: “Salvation is not exclusive to one person, one country, or one people.” And now, not only will Peter know that, but those before whom he speaks in Jerusalem will understand it as well.
Acts 11:1-3 “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”
Exclusivity was something the Jewish people were used to. They were God’s chosen people. But, now it seems that in this new shift of belief, these Jewish Christians were being shown that God and the worship of God was not just for them alone, but God was opening the door to welcome believers from all over the world into His fold.
Let me put it like this. I am a grandmother. For a year my granddaughter has had my undivided attention when she was over my house. Now, she has a baby brother who gets some of my attention as well. If I am holding him, she attempts to sit in my lap as well. If I am playing with him, she joins in because she wants grandma’s attention; she wants me all to herself. But, now she’s forced to share and sometimes this causes contentions within herself resulting in temper tantrums.
Now, I am not claiming that those in Jerusalem were throwing temper tantrums at sharing God with others that are not Jews, but there were some definite conflicts as these two worlds collided over who was accepted and how.
Therefore, “when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him.” Their arguments were based on the fact that Peter “wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”
God had always made a difference between His people and others. On the eighth day of their birth, all males were instructed to be circumcised symbolizing their covenant relationship with God Almighty (see Genesis 17:12). As far as these Jewish Christians were concerned that separation still remained. They still viewed those that were “uncircumcised” in the flesh outside of that covenant relationship. They have yet to grasp the understanding that God was more interested in the circumcision of the heart (see Deut. 10:16, 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:27, 29; Col. 2:10-12). People like Cornelius who believed were welcomed in God’s family despite not having a circumcision of the flesh.
What’s more is that Peter went in and ate with them also. Peter was scorned for behaving in a socializing manner that was not befitting a proper Jew. According to their law this was forbidden. This was something Peter was very familiar with and himself quoted it to Cornelius in Acts 10:28.
- But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,
- I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
- Upon the which I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
- And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
- But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
- But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
- And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
- And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
- And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
- And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
- Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”
Peter begins to make his case for God’s gift to the Gentiles by submitting the evidence accurately as it occurred. He first begins with his side of the story. He told them, “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Upon the which I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven,” (Acts 11:5-10).
As was discussed in last week’s lesson, Peter began to describe to them his prayer time and the vision of the sheet with the animals on it. He knew all the animals in that vision were not clean and refused to be associated with them. Nevertheless, he stated that the voice from heaven instructed him to, “Arise, Peter; slay and eat.”
Aghast at such a command, Peter refused stated, “Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.” Peter knew the law and thoroughly kept it with contaminating himself in any way. But the voice had the floor and commanded to be heard, saying emphatically, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common,” effectively closing the door on any arguments in the case of what or who was acceptable to God or not.
After the vision repeated itself three times, Peter told them it disappeared back into heaven. When that occurred, it left no room for Peter to question. Immediately “there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me” (Acts 11:11).
God’s timing for everything is perfect. As soon as Peter emerged from the vision the men appeared. God’s word to Peter was fresh encouraging him that He was fully supporting the events that were soon taking place.
And, as if needing further encouragement (after all this was a huge step for him into unknown territory of reaching out to people), the “Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting.” When the “Spirit” is in it, you know this is a move authenticated by God. This would strengthen Peter’s courage as he moves to do as God has instructed.
As further proof of his testimony before the Jewish Christians, Peter submitted that he was not alone in his endeavor. He had witnesses in the form of “six brethren” who could readily vouch for everything he was saying. They could testify of the occurrences of traveling to Caesarea and the magnificent works of God that happened once they arrived at Cornelius’s house.
We know from last week’s lesson that Cornelius was a man whom the Bible attributes as being “devout, and one that feared God with all his house,” (Acts 10:2). Although he is a centurion by trade (an officer over 100 men) for the Italian regime (Acts 10:1), he is a man who seeks to live a life of reverence to the Almighty.
And, he gave “alms” (which means he helps with support of those less fortunate) and he “prayed to God always,” (Acts 10:2). Although he wasn’t a Jew or raised in a Jewish household, Cornelius was a man very much devoted to God, proven in his pursuit of God through his life and through prayer.
He then described Cornelius’s side of the events. Peter told them when he arrived, Cornelius “he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:13:14). He gave a brief summary of the message of what Cornelius relayed to him and Peter then told he began to do what he came down there to do: to preach Jesus Christ (see Acts 10:37-38).
When he did that the miraculous happened.
Acts 11:15-18 “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 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. 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? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance of life.”
From last week’s lesson we see when Peter opened up Jesus’ ministry in a full, but brief summary describing the beginning (His baptism and the witness of the Holy Ghost as a dove); the middle (His healings and casting out demons. Miracles He did, too numerous to name.); and the ending (His death, resurrection, and His command to “go preach unto the people” – Acts 10:39-43), that’s all it took.
When Cornelius and his house, and those present heard these words, “the Holy Ghost fell on them all,” (vs. 44). Peter described the occurrence as when it fell on them at the “beginning,” speaking of the day of Pentecost. God had blessed them, the Gentiles, with the same gift as He did the Jews, showing His stamp of approval in the form of the Holy Ghost.
When this was done it took Peter’s mind back to Jesus. Before He ascended into heaven after His resurrection, Jesus spoke to His disciples, saying, “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence,” (Acts 1:5). Now, Peter remembers those words and quotes them in verse 16 before the Jewish Christians.
The men that traveled from Joppa with Peter himself were astonished with the work of God in the lives the Gentiles while down in Caesarea, “because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 10:45).
Knowing that God had moved in such a fantastic way; that He Himself tore down walls and barriers that stood between man and man that would hinder a relationship with Him, Peter declared, “What was I, that I could withstand God?” Who is little ole me to stand in God’s way?!
God was about attracting hearts to Him that “believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter couldn’t help but to get on board with God’s plan and ride His holy train past all those previous notions to assist those that would receive this “gift” as well.
With this report, the Jewish Christians were pleased and “glorified God.” Souls were being added to His Kingdom. This was a day for rejoicing, not for nitpicking over who ate with whom. God deserved all praise, honor and glory (as He always does) for His mighty move in the lives of the Gentiles also.
What started as the command that “Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth,” (Acts 1:8) from our Lord Jesus Christ, was taking shape and reaching many people to fill the heavenly streets of eternity with. The doors have been opened and people from all walks of life would have a shot at “repentance of life.”
Everybody has the same opportunity to be saved. There are no barriers. There are no walls except the ones we build ourselves. His gift of salvation is available to all. You just have to accept it for yourself.
Peter spoke up and showed that God’s gift is for everyone. Will you believe it today? Will you accept Him as your Savior today? Don’t let this good gift go to waste. Turn to Jesus! And as Peter pronounced on the day of Pentecost and showed in the life of Cornelius, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,” (Acts 2:38).
Claim your gift today and be saved!
(Click here for PDF: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift Sunday School Lesson, or use print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Word Search: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift Word Search Answers: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift Word Search Answers
Word Scramble: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift Word Scramble Answers: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift Word Scramble Answers
Draw the Scene: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift Draw the Scene
Journal Activity Sheet: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift Journal Sheet
How Many Words?: Peter Speaks Up for God’s Gift How Many Words
Peter Puppet Speaks Craft: Peter Puppet (Use PDF link for accurate printing. Print out on cardstock is best and your students can make their own paper bag puppet that goes with this week’s lesson. Your students can “dress” Peter by decorating the bag. Enjoy!)
Below are Activities/Resources/Links to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Early Church Growth and Change” (Here you will find unique ideas such as “seat changing,” “dress up,” and more to teach the students the fundamentals of this week’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Peter’s First Sermon Coloring Page” (Can easily be adapted as a coloring page to Peter speaking to the Jews in today’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Peter Coloring Page” (I printed it on cardstock, colored it and stuck it to a craft stick to use as a little puppet. Enjoy!)
Repeated activities from last week (much of today’s lesson covers this):
“Peter’s Vision Coloring Sheet” (This one is geared toward older students and shows the vision Peter had before Cornelius’s men came to him. Enjoy!)
“All the Children of the World” (A great object using eggs, not to mention printables, coloring, and group activities such as “Thumb Print Children” and “Play Dough Kids” that really engage students in this lesson. Enjoy!)
“Peter and Cornelius Sunday School Lesson” (This site brings some very original ideas to the table that I think your students would love for this week’s lesson. Newspaper snowball fight? Stuffed animals? Oh, yeah! Click to find out more. Enjoy!)
“Cornelius and Peter’s Vision” (Powerpoints, worksheets and a wonderful, easy to put together lesson display that’s sure to draw the curiosity of your students to today’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Peter Visits Cornelius” (I love the craft idea on page 6 for making a simple reconstruction of Cornelius’s houses for students to remember the lesson, or the game ideas on pages 7 and 10. Enjoy!)