The Church: A Divine Design ~ The Struggle of the Church

The Struggle of the Church

 

Acts 10:9-20 ~ “The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”

 

  1. The Authority of Ministry (1-6) ~ Before we actually deal with the struggle that the church faced, we must deal with the authority of ministry. In the opening verses we find God dealing with the heart of a Gentile. We must remember that God has called us to do His work, not the other way around. Jesus built His church and He decides who is invited to become a part of it.
    1. The Seeker ~ We find a man named Cornelius. He was a centurion, an officer in the Roman army who had the charge of a company of 100 men. That brought him recognition among his peers, but not among the church. There are some qualities about Cornelius that we need to consider.
      1. His Character ~ He was a devout man that feared God
      2. His Compassion ~ He gave much alms to the people
      3. His Concern ~ He prayed to God always
      4. As we consider this man Cornelius, it would appear that any church would have desired to have him among their membership. There was just one problem. Most could not see his character, his compassion, or his concern because they were focused on his lineage. He was not of the right race and therefore it didn’t matter how good or noble he was, they thought he wasn’t worthy of the gospel or the church!
    2. The Sovereign ~ Cornelius had not yet met the Lord in salvation, but God was already aware of Him and divinely working in his situation.
      1. We have no way of knowing what God is doing behind the scenes. We do not know how God is working in the lives of individuals. We must assume that everyone who comes through our church doors or into our lives has been sent of God. We need to look at each one as an opportunity to lead them to Christ. That will not always be easy nor always the case, but we have no way of knowing any differently.
  1. The Arrogance in Ministry (vv 9-16) ~ Here we find some dangers associated with ministry. If we are not careful we will end up doing good things, but avoiding the best things. In our fervency for the Lord’s work we can easily develop an attitude of self-righteousness and arrogance. Peter found himself in such a condition.
    1. His activity (v. 9) ~ Peter was faithful to spending time alone with the Lord in prayer. This was likely something that he did routinely. However, do you think it is possible that his time alone with the Lord was more of a routine than a time of meditation and prayer?
    2. Busyness will never take the place of obedience. We can busy ourselves with all kinds of ministry related activities, but if we fail to hear what God has said and accomplish what He desire of us, then we have missed it altogether.
    3. His attitude (vv. 10-14) ~ Here Peter has a vision of the sheet filled with all manner of animals, clean and unclean. Peter refused to kill and eat because he had never done that before.
      1. Now in Peter’s defense, he didn’t want to go against the law of God. He didn’t want to abandon that which he had been taught all his life.
      2. Peter was not purposely being disobedient, but he had the attitude that this had never been done before. “Lord, I can’t do this because we never have.”
      3. Have we not been guilty of the same? God may have revealed His will for our lives through His Word, we may have received a direct command, and simply because we have never done it that way before, we assume that this cannot be the will of God nor can it be right. It is not up to us to evaluate what God desires.
    4. His Assumption (v14) ~ Peter may not have even realized that he was being disobedient to the Lord, nor that his attitude was not right, but in essence he assumed that he knew more about God’s will for his life than God himself did.
    5. There is so much to be learned from this passage. Who are we to determine whom God would save? Who are we to judge whether anyone would be a viable member of the church? We are we to keep the gospel from anyone who stands in need of salvation? May God help us to get beyond our prejudices and judgmental attitudes regarding others! I pray that we will welcome all who come within our doors and share Jesus with the world.
 
Pastor Andy Lambert
{pastorandy@cvcog.church}

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