Tom: This is our Understanding the Scripture segment. We’re in the Book of Acts. Again, as we’ve said, this is our privilege to go through the Word of God chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Dave, last week we left off at Acts:11:15. I’ll pick up there: “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.” And, Dave, of course, this is Peter’s defense before those who challenged him in Jerusalem as to why he was going to the Gentile, the unclean.
Dave: Right, he’s giving them the whole story now to justify going into the home of the Gentiles, and it was pretty impressive. They began to speak with tongues as he was giving them the gospel.
And, Tom, let me just go back. I know we don’t like to go back, but Acts:10:43, Peter is speaking, and he says to these Gentiles: “To him [that is, to Jesus] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Now, he is preaching Christ to them, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and he’s saying—because these people have been studying the Old Testament. These were devout people. Maybe they had converted to Judaism, I don’t know, and he’s just pointing out, “This is the One that the prophets said would come. He’s the Messiah. And furthermore, He didn’t come to deliver you from Rome, He came to deliver you from your sins.” And as he is speaking, it says the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the Word, and they began to speak with tongues like the apostles had on the day of Pentecost. And Peter says, “Wow! Who can forbid water that these should be baptized?”
And there again, Tom, I want to just remind our listeners it’s evidence that baptism doesn’t save. You get baptized after you are saved, because these people were already saved and then they were baptized, okay?
Tom: Well, indicated by the Holy Spirit coming upon them. Verse 17: “Forasmuch then, as God gave them [that is, the Gentiles] the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” And really, that’s what he’s laying before them: he’s presenting them—“Hey, what do you guys think? You going to stand against God on this one?”
Dave: I think Peter has just laid it out for them; they cannot escape it. So it says, v. 18: “When they heard these things, they held their peace [that’s old English for they were quiet; their mouths were shut] and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”
We’ve emphasized this a number of times: how could they have been so blind, you know? Because Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” He had said that to them; they heard Him. Now, if the gospel was not for all of them, and if they were not going to be given the gift of eternal life which is offered in the gospel, then why would Jesus have them go and preach to them? Again, we kind of sneak into Calvinism there—why are you preaching the gospel to people that God has already damned for eternity? But anyway, so they should have known that. It’s all through the Old Testament, and we’ve pointed that out.
Tom: And, Dave, last week I thought it was interesting: these were not just dunderheads; these were not people who had studied the religion and just came about these ideas, you know, through their own intellect, and so on; these were spirit-filled Christians, yet it took them 10 years to come around to actually fulfilling and understanding, and then fulfilling the great commission.
Dave: It’s amazing, it is amazing! And, Tom, I wonder how blind I am to much that’s in the Bible. I often say to the Lord—well, I’m in my 80th year. That doesn’t mean I’m 80 years old yet; I will be at my next birthday, which means I’m 79—and I say, “Lord, I’ve been studying your Word all my life and I hardly know anything! How can I be so blind?” And I’m sure that all of us, when we stand before the Lord and He gives us a clear understanding, and then we know as we are known, “we no longer see through a glass darkly, but then face to face…” Wow, it’s going to be embarrassing. Tom, how could we be so blind?
Tom: But, Dave, what about the verse that says—what is it, John:7:17: “If any man wills to do his will, he will know of the doctrine.” So there has to be an attitude there. I can’t isolate something and make it—“Oh, this is what I believe. I’m going to be dogmatic about this.” We really need to submit to God in all these things and not let our biases, our prejudice, and so on color what we believe, but be willing to understand, and then the Holy Spirit does His work, right?
Dave: Right. But, Tom, let me finish quoting that verse: “…he will know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” So he’s guaranteeing—that’s a guarantee. It’s like when in the Old Testament God said, “If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. If you seek for me, you will find me when you seek for me with all your heart.” So that’s a promise. Anybody that seeks for God with all their heart, they will find Him. And Jesus is saying, “Anybody that wants to know God’s will, they will know whether this book, the Bible, is true or not.” He’s not saying that that’s the only criteria: “Now then you’ll know everything, and you’ll have all your doctrine straightened out.” You’ll know that the Bible is God’s Word. But, wow! Peter said in those things that Paul wrote there are some deep things that are hard to be understood.
So anyway, that’s the first step, Tom, as you say: we must really want to know God’s will. Only then can we understand His Word at all.
Tom: Now, Dave, I want to sneak in there a love for the truth. You know, one of the things that grieves us—20 years ago I had the privilege of working on The Seduction of Christianity with you, and we thought at that time, and maybe a few years after, things couldn’t get any worse. But now it seems that strong delusion has set in, and God says if they have not a love of the truth, He’s going to send strong delusion that they believe the lie.
Dave: It was a shocking book in those days, Tom. I don’t think it would shock anybody today, because this is pretty much the way everything is going.
So anyway, they now realize—it took the Lord quite a bit to make them realize the gospel is for Gentiles also. Now, that’s kind of a twist, Tom, because we have some popular positive confession preachers on television, and they say that the gospel is not for the Jews, that they have a separate deal, and the gospel is just for the Gentiles. But here, these were Jews; the first Christians were Jews, and Paul always went into the synagogue first. And Jesus said, “Begin in Jerusalem, and then you go to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
The Scripture says—well, Paul writes in Romans 1: “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,” and he says, “to the Jew first, then also to the Greek,” or the Gentile. So I don’t know how people could get this way.
Tom, I’ve probably mentioned it maybe before on this program, but I remember being on a secular show—I think it was a 2-hour show on radio. And finally, with the last couple of minutes coming out of the end, the host said, “Now, Mr. Hunt, I am a Jew, and I do not believe what you have been saying. Are you telling me that if I do not accept Jesus Christ as my Savior that I am going to hell?”
And I said, “Whether you are a Jew or a Gentile, it doesn’t matter. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and there is only one way. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’” and so forth, you know.
And he said, “Mr. Hunt, I disagree with you, but I appreciate your honesty. I have had many pastors on this program, and I’ve asked them all the same question, and you are the first one who gave me a straight answer,” okay?
So whether these people who say, “Well, the Jews have a different deal…” whether they are saying that because they don’t want to offend anybody—terrible to not offend somebody and let them go to hell in order not to offend them.
Tom: Or just present the truth to them.
Dave: This is what we have to do. So anyway, they recognize it, and the next verse is interesting indeed: “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen…”
Tom: Of course, Stephen was stoned to death.
Dave: Right, and it says there was a persecution and you go back to Acts 8, and it says the believers were scattered. What did they do, hide out, secret service Christians, don’t want anybody to know? I love this verse. It says they “travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only." At least they’re preaching the Word. They are not afraid, but they’re only preaching it to the Jews. So in spite of all of this, somehow the Word hasn’t gotten around. Maybe for some people, the Word hasn’t gotten around even today! They had better go back and read the Bible. It’s very clear.