Waiting to Hear
We are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.(Acts 10:33)
Peter came to the house of Cornelius and preached the good news of Christ. And “while Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word”(Acts10:44). Why? They had testified, “Now….as we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God”(Acts 10:33).
In all our gatherings we need to believe in the Holy Spirit as the Guide and Teacher of God’s saints when they wait to be led by Him into the things which God hath prepared, and which the heart cannot conceive.
The great danger in our assemblies is that in our consciousness of having our Bible, and, our past experience of God’s leading, and our sound creed, and our honest wish to do God will, we trust in these, and do. It realize that with every step we need and may have a heavenly guidance.
There may be elements of God’s will, application of God’s word, experience of the close presence and leading of God, and manifestations of His Spirit’s power of which we know nothing as yet. God is willing to open these up to souls intently set upon allowing Him to have His way entirely.
When we come together praising God for all He has done and taught and given, we may at the same time be limiting Him by not expecting greater things. While we think that we know and trust the power of God for what we may expect, we may be hindering Him by not cultivating the habit of waiting for His counsel.
More splines of soul to realize Gods presence….more consciousness of our ignorance of what God’s great plans may be…..more faith in the certainty that God has greater things to show us, that He Himself will be revealed in new glory….these must be the marks of the assemblies of God’s saints.
There can be no question that Peter was feeling pretty good about the Acts church. From a small group of eleven that were hiding in fear after the crucifixion it had grown into the 120 believers gathered in the upper room seeking God’s will for this new ministry. Peter and the other disciples had been with Jesus and during that time their expectations was for Him to establish an earthly kingdom. Much to their surprise and disappointment, Jesus chose the way of the cross and after resurrection was taken up to heaven. Not at all what they expected. Standing on the mountain, watching Jesus ascend, they receive their reminder of Christ’s command.
“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”
As they waited in prayer and expectation those 120 believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Moved upon by Him they rush to the streets proclaiming the gospel in languages they had not learned to the multitude gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. That day the church experienced exponential growth. From eleven to one hundred twenty to three thousand one hundred twenty. I’m sure this must have been exciting times. In a very short time from this day, Peter and John will be used by God to heal a lame man who sat at the Beautiful Gate begging. As the people gather in wonder, the gospel is presented and another five thousand become believers. Again let us state the progression. Eleven to one hundred twenty to three thousand one hundred twenty to eight thousand one hundred twenty. From this point Acts tells us that daily there were believers added to the church.
“Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
I can’t imagine any congregation or pastor not being fully satisfied with this growth. Peter is resting waiting for dinner when he receives instructions from the Lord to go to Cornelius’ house. I have no doubt that Peter and the other disciples believed that this new relationship with God was to be restricted to Jews. Indeed up to this point all believers were Jewish converts. But God had greater plans and I’m thankful that those larger plans included Gentiles of which I am one. Peter, steeped in Judaism rejected the idea that Gentiles could have part of the kingdom of God. Before we judge him too harshly, we must ask ourselves if there are those that we might put beyond hope. As Peter sees the vision and hears the voice of the Holy Spirit giving instructions for this new thing that’s still beyond his comprehension, he makes his way to Cornelius. Rehearsing the story of Christ and presenting the Gospel the this Gentile household is something way beyond Peter’s imagination. But here he is preaching and in the middle of his sermon God moves. Peter and the men who came with him are astonished that the Holy Spirit is poured out on these Gentile believers. For Peter, the evidence that Gentiles could be saved is provided by the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the evidence of them speaking in unlearned languages. Whatever we may believe about the experience of being filled with the Spirit and “speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance”…..
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
….it is obvious that through this God affirmed that the Gospel was for Jew and Gentile.
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? ” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.”
Like Peter we may believe that we know all we need to know and our experience has qualified us to know what God will do and how He will do it, but what God desires to do is far beyond our experience and knowledge. I’m sure that until this moment Peter believed he completely understood God’s plan and then God spoke and all things changed. I have no doubt that presenting the gospel to Gentiles was off the radar. I truly believe that God has things in store for His people that is far beyond our conceptions. So let us wait in His presence and let us hear His instructions that we may more fully carry out His plans and glorify Him more.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 2:7-16
Dr. John Thompson