Acts 10:44-48 (ESV)
While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
Notice that the Jews are referred to here as the circumcised. This highlights that the Gentiles on whom the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out were not circumcised. This is clearly not in conformity with the Mosaic Law. They couldn’t possibly be included in the Jewish covenant, right?
Seeing the Holy Spirit poured out on them in visible, undeniable ways contradicts what the Jews thought they knew, and so they were amazed. Peter wasn’t amazed though; he’d already been there done that.
There’s an old adage in logic – anything is possible if it happens. The Jews have just seen the “impossible” happen, but they haven’t figured out how yet. In the meantime, they’re just standing there with their mouths hanging open.
So, Peter has to run things. He asks. “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Of course, no one says a word; they’re all speechless.
So, he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. This presumably jolted the Jews out of their stupor, and they helped with the baptisms.
But there’s a bigger point here – the timing. Notice exactly when the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. It’s coincident with their believing. Yes, the text doesn’t actually say that they believed, but that’s obvious given what Peter said in his message about everyone who believes.
So this does not answer the age-old question of whether their belief opened the door to the Holy Spirit of whether the Holy Spirit came crashing in producing the belief.
That’s a distinction without a difference. God is the first cause of all things.
That last line gives a lot of people fits. Yes, “all things” means all things. This is way too deep for a short devotional, but the Bible is totally clear on this. Chapter 3 here is a good reference.
This is hard teaching, but without it you end up with a good-God-bad-God routine. Believing that God isn’t always in control leads logic off a cliff. Praise God in all things. Sometimes we never see how some things are for the good (in this life anyway).
Thank God that the universe isn’t out of control.
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