Mission to the Gentiles: Acts 11 (7)
Pray Psalm 66.1-4.
Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.
Say to God,
“How awesome are Your works!
Through the greatness of Your power
Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.
All the earth shall worship You
And sing praises to You;
They shall sing praises to Your name.”
Sing Psalm 66.1-4.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Shout for joy to God, all people, sing the glory of His Name!
Give Him glorious praise and say, “How great Your pow’r and great Your fame!
All the earth shall worship gladly as they praise Your glorious Name!”
Read Acts 11.1-30; meditate on verse 21.
1. What does this verse report?
2. How does it account for this?
For centuries, Gentile nations oppressed those who understood themselves to be the people of God. A wall of hostility existed between Israel and the pagan world, and it was continually reinforced by traditions and admonitions on the Jewish side, and condescension and abominable offenses on the part of the Gentiles.
Now, suddenly, Gentiles and Jews were together in worship, breaking bread in each other’s homes, rejoicing together in their common salvation, and sharing their resources gladly. No human law could accomplish such a dramatic transformation. Nor could any sincerely-intended, earnest effort on the part of well-meaning men.
It had to be the hand of God. Specifically, the Right Hand of God, He Who sits at the Father’s right hand in glory and Who, with the Father, sends the Spirit and Kingdom of God to the world (cf. Pss. 2, 110). Jesus is “the hand of the Lord”, and what we see in Acts 11 is the ongoing work He began while on earth and is now prosecuting from His heavenly vantage point through His chosen people.
Only the Hand of the Lord can bring others to the saving knowledge of the Gospel. Only the Hand of the Lord can turn persecutors into preachers, foes into friends, and famines of every kind into flourishing. If we are looking to anything other than Jesus, exalted in glory, for our own progress in faith, for the growth of our churches, and for the advance of His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven – whether we’re depending on programs, preachers, or places of worship – we are not looking where we must. There is no other Name given among men under heaven whereby we must be saved, but the Name of Jesus.
Prayer, attention and obedience to God’s every Word, heartfelt worship and devotion, mutual encouragement and aid, self-denying love for neighbors, courage in the face of uncertainty or risk, readiness to bear witness, and a willingness to go anywhere and do anything the Lord requires – these are where we join hands with the Right Hand of God to turn our world rightside-up for Him.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
As we can see from this verse, there is an action that accompanies belief that makes all the difference.
“And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11.21).
The Bible says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble” (Jms. 2.19).
It is the turning that changes us:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God’; “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations”’” (Ez. 14.6).
“Now, therefore, says the LORD, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm” (Joel 2.12, 13).
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Prov. 4.14, 15).
When the Hand of the Lord is with us, guiding us, teaching us, convicting us, restoring us, and loving us, we should want nothing more than to walk in a way that is pleasing to Him. Believing and turning.
In the Word of God is where we should dwell to know the Hand of the Lord with us. For His Word is “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4.12).
His Word leads us to believe and turn, and experience His Hand with us.
Then His Hand leads us into our Personal Mission Field to help others believe and turn.
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised…and great numbers will believe and turn! (Ps. 16.25; Acts 11.21)
1. What is repentance? How is repentance a kind of “turning”? Who needs to repent?
2. Believing and turning are both essential to being saved and growing in salvation. Explain.
3. What can believers do to help one another stay within the reach of the Hand of the Lord, so that He might work powerfully in and through us?
What should the ministers of Christ preach, but Christ? Christ, and him crucified? Christ, and him glorified? And their preaching was accompanied with the Divine power. The hand of the Lord was with them, to bring that home to the hearts and consciences of men, which they could but speak to the outward ear. They believed; they were convinced of the truth of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 11.19-24
Pray Psalm 66.5-9.
Pray that the Church of our Lord Jesus will be revived into His greatness and awesomeness, and that we will increase in His salvation, take up the work of witness-bearing, and lead the world to a great awakening of faith in the Lord.
Sing Psalm 66.5-9.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Great and awesome is our Savior in the works which He has done.
He the sea and river dried to let His people cross as one.
Then our joy was great to worship Him our mighty, sovereign One.
He the nations watches ever – all you rebels, humbled be.
Bless our God, all men and nations, praise His Name eternally!
He preserves our souls, and He will keep His paths beneath our feet.
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.