The Gathering/ Pastor Barry Acts #9: Made Clean To hear this message and others download our free app in the App Store. Search The Gathering Connect.
Aeneas & Dorcas (Tabitha) Acts 9:32-43
In these passages we see that as Peter travels about the country and preaches the good news of Christ great miracles of healing accompany him. In Lydda God uses Peter to heal a paralyzed man named Aeneas and all those who lived in that town and another close one turned to the Lord. In Joppa an active disciple named Tabitha (Dorcas in Greek) became sick and died. Peter was taken upstairs to see her and he sent everyone out of the room and fell on his knees and prayed. “Tabitha get up”, he said and then he presented her to the people downstairs alive! This news was spread everywhere and many people believed in the Lord!
Not For Jews Only Genesis 12:1-3, John 12:32
Peter’s reputation as a miracle worker and the leader of “The Way” became known everywhere and even to a Roman Centurion in the Italian Regiment who was a gentile (non– Jewish) believer. It is important to note here that Peter and the other Apostles were Jews. Jesus was Messiah (Christ: the Jewish “anointed one” prophesied about in the Jewish scriptures who came to save His people—the Jews). At this time Peter was preaching to the Jews about Jesus. Gentiles also heard his message, but Peter and the others were telling the Jews to repent and be baptized! The Gospel as Peter understood it was for the Jewish people alone. Peter and the others were circumcised under the Jewish law, honored Jewish traditions, studied the Torah (Tor-ah: Law: first five books of the Bible) and the Tanakh (Tan-ahk: Old Testament), ate according to Jewish law and went to Temple.
The context for today’s passage has its roots in the covenant that God made with Abram. God said, “I will make you into a great nation…I will bless those who bless you…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3). The key words here are “all peoples on earth.” Even in the very beginning, God’s promise was not just to Jews but to “all peoples on earth.” The Jewish people found it hard to understand that God’s mercy could include Gentiles, but clues to that effect are scattered all throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Psalm 22:27; Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:9-10; 40:5; 45:22-24; 49:22; 53:6, 55:5; 56:3-8; 60:3; 65:1; 66:18-23; Jeremiah 3:17; 4:2; 16:19-21;Daniel 7:13-14; Joel 2:28-32; Zechariah 2:11; 8:22-23; Malachi 1:11). Jesus also made it clear that He had come to draw all people to Himself for salvation: John 12:32 (see also: John 3:15; 4:7-26, 39-42,6:35-40, Matthew 24:14;28:18-20, Mark 13:10, Revelation 2:7;3:20;22:17)
Ironically, Peter (who at the time had no idea of the full meaning of his words) preached a sermon at Pentecost in which he quoted the prophet Joel (Acts 2:17-21, Joel 2:28-32) saying, “It will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out my Spirit on all people”. He also promised, “It will be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. When Peter spoke those words, he was firmly committed to a Jewish church. It took a dramatic God-inspired vision to open Peter’s heart to accept Gentiles in the church.
Made Clean Acts 10:1-48, 11:1-18, John 3:16-17,1 John 1:8-9
This God inspired vision had two parts. One part for a Gentile and one part for a Jew. The purpose was to bring the two together for a revelation that would “draw all people” to Christ. Acts 10 tells us of Cornelius, a devout Gentile who is instructed by an angel to seek out Peter. Then it tells us of Peter’s housetop vision where God called him to kill and eat animals which were prohibited under Jewish law. Peter responded, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean” (10:14). But God responded, “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean” (10:15).
All food clean? Under the law the Jews were given strict food eating requirements (Leviticus 11). Some try and use Peter’s vision here as proof that God abolished such dietary laws. The context of this vision is not about making all foods clean but making all people clean who come to faith in Christ. In fact, there is no indication that Peter (a Jew) ever changed his traditional Jewish eating habits; however, Peter does speak up against Gentiles needing to be circumcised according to the law in Acts 15:7-11. He concludes: “We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” If one is saved without circumcision, then one might also argue that one is saved without following Jewish dietary laws. In fact Jesus seems to say so in Mark 7:18-23 and Matthew 15:10-20. The passage in Hebrews 8:6-13 also clearly states that Jesus has made a “New Covenant” with believers unlike the covenant made with the ancestors. This is not to say that these dietary laws or circumcision laws are not good or profitable to keep; however, it is clear in scripture that salvation is not based upon them.
Peter’s vision was followed by God telling Peter to meet with three men and Cornelius. Peter acknowledged his cultural prejudice against the Gentiles (10:28) but in light of his vision received them. When the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles, Peter then knew for sure that God welcomed them into the faith so he ordered them to be baptized (10:44-48). “What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean” became crystal clear to Peter.
Baptism, as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:21, now saved Gentiles too— not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord” by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. The promise of being made clean is for “whosoever believes in Him” (John 3:16-17). If we confess our sins and our need for Christ then He will forgive and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9). Have you done this? None are clean without Him and we must be “clean” to be His child. Thank God He has made the way “that leads to life”.
A Change in Church Leadership: A leadership transition from Peter to Paul now comes into effect that mirrors the transition from a Jewish church to a Jewish-Gentile church. Peter was the most prominent apostle in the first part of the book of Acts, but Saul’s conversion in chapter 9 signaled the beginning of a new era. By chapter 13, Saul (Paul), the great missionary to the Gentiles, takes the lead among the apostles, and then we will hear only once more from Peter (15:7-11) when he defends the salvation of the Gentiles to Jewish believers.