Remain True to the Lord With all Your Heart
1. Summarize what Peter had learned at Cornelius’ house from God? (10:34, 35) (John 10:16) (Isaiah 42:6).
Acts 10:34, 35 “34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
John 10:16 “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
Isaiah 42:6 ““I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,”
We learned that God accepts men from all nations who fear him and do what is right. God does not show favoritism between Jew and Gentile and that this was God’s plan from the beginning.
What did the apostles and believers in Judea hear (1)?
“The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.”
The apostles and believers heard that Peter had gone into the house of a Gentile and that they had received the Holy Spirit from him.
When Peter arrived in Jerusalem, why were the believers critical of him (2,3)?
“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.””
Gentiles had been unclean since they did not follow the Law of Moses. Peter was seen as engaging with law breakers. The Law was not just something the Jews kept because of duty—it was their identity as the chosen people of God to receive the direct revelation from God to Abraham, Moses, through the law and the Tabernacle no other people group received this. So naturally the believers, even the apostles were concerned when they heard Peter going to the Gentiles.
What was the main point of Peters retelling of his visit to Cornelius (9)?
““The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’”
Peter also was careful to show his dedication to God by explaining everything he did in the context of the God and the Holy Spirit. Peter did not do anything other than what the Spirit instructed him to do for the Glory of God. Peter told the assembly that the main point was that they should not call anything that God has made unclean, including other people groups.
2. When the Holy Spirit came on them what did Peter remember (16) (Acts 1:4,5)?
“Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a] water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.’”
Acts 1:4-5, “4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.””
At this time of the work of the Holy Spirit Peter remembered the words of Jesus in regards to the coming of the Holy Spirit.
What was his conclusion (17)?
17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”
Peter realized he could not oppose the will of God. These men had received the Spirit in the same way that the apostles had—though they were Gentiles. Peter realized he could not oppose this but that it was the work of God. He we need to learn that when the Lord is fulfilling his promises we should not oppose the work of God.
What was the other apostles and believers conclusion (18)?
“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.””
Peter did not persuade them with his own idea or some fast-talking. He told them the work of God that happened and they agreed that Gentile baptism was the work of the Holy Spirit.
What does this show about the hearts of believers?
This shows the sign of a true believer in God. Those who follow the Lord with all their hearts listen to the word of God, realize it is the word of God, and then follow and even change their direction because of it based on the word.
What does this show about God?
This shows that God is the God of the entire world of all the people able to reach to any people group because he made them and called them according to his will.
3. Why had the believers been scattered all over the Roman Empire (19) (Acts 8:1-3)?
“ Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews”
Acts 8:1-3, “On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”
Because of Saul’s rage against Stephen and the believers in Jerusalem, all were forced to flee except the apostles. This was a tragedy but God used it to spread the gospel through the Roman Empire and even to Greeks in modern Europe.
When some took the gospel to the Greeks what was the Lord’ response (21a)?
“ The Lord’s hand was with them,”
If Gentile ministry was not the Lord’s will, then this action would have failed and come to nothing. This shows the Lord did not oppose these actions.
What was the Greeks response to the gospel (21b)?
“and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”
Notice it says that a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. The word “turn” here is important. It signifies changing direction—in this case life direction.
Notice also how the author suddenly uses the term “Greeks” instead of Gentiles. Perhaps he was trying to signify the previous Gentiles, Cornelius, the Ethiopian, and Nicolas the convert—were Gentiles but had been practicing Judaism—functionally Jews. Here “Greeks” might mean a people with their own established culture; with religion, philosophy, and history completely separate from the Judaism and the God of the Bible.
We know that Greek and Roman culture were very inclusive of other religions and philosophies. For a significant amount of people to believe and turn out of that culture and entrenched religion was a great work of God.
You could think of this situation much like today’s evangelizing. Christians bring a message to a world in America that already has its own spirituality, culture, and ways—that looks at believers as if we were aliens stepping off of a spaceship.
4. Who did the church send to help the work of God in Antioch (22)?
“News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.”
Barnabas was sent to help the new believers to solidify their faith against the marketplace of ideas. Similar to what happened when Peter and John went to help the new believers in the face of Simon the Sorcerer and his witchcraft.
Why (Acts 4:36)?
“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”),”
Why not send Peter and John? Barnabas was the son of encouragement, but Peter and John were just as encouraging too. It turns out that Barnabas was from Cyprus—meaning he grew up in a Greek country—he understood the ways and the culture of the new Greek believers. Yet he was a Jew so he knew the scripture and had received the Holy Spirit. Peter and John had never been in a Gentile environment up to the point. Perhaps they would have been uncomfortable or even made some cultural mistakes leading to trouble with the new believers. Barnabas was the perfect person for the job.
What did he encourage the new believers to do (23)?
“ When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”
Barnabas probably knew the society pressures facing these new believers and the temptation to go back to their old ways or even compromise their faith in Jesus. Barnabas encouraged them to remain true with all their hearts. Much like a friendship or a marriage. We clearly remain true with all our heart to our spouse and to our friends. We do not have outside relationships or gossip or slander our friends. In the same way Barnabas encouraged the new believers to grow by remaining true to the Lord with all their hearts.
How can one remain true to the Lord (Luke 10:27) (Romans 12:2)
Luke 10:27, “ He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]””
Romans 12:2 “ Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Remaining true to the Lord involves having a right and clear relationship with the Lord.
What was the result of Barnabas’ preaching (24)?
“He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”
The passage for some reason inserts information about Barnabas, that he is a good man, full of the Holy Spirit, and faith. I believe that because Barnabas turned his heart in full commitment to the Lord, his outer character was radically changed—so much so that it effected the people and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. When our lives are turned to the Lord with all our heart—we too will be changed and effect those around us.
What did Barnabas teach that such a great work of God could occur (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) (John 20:31)?
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”
John 20:31, “But these are written that you may believe[a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Here we can clearly learn that Barnabas knew the contents of the Gospels and that he could clearly preach the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Barnabas preached the truth and preached the very same gospel we have in our hands today—that is effective even unto this day.
5. Who did Barnabas go looking for (25)?
“ Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,”
Barnabas needed help in shepherding the new Greek believers. He went to Tarsus, which was a leading Roman trading city in Modern Turkey, founded during the time of Alexander the Great. This was because as a Pharisee Saul knew the Bible very well, and he also had been raised in a Greek culture and spoke the language very well (Acts 21:37).
After teaching the Bible for a year in Antioch, what were the believers first called (26)
“and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
Most importantly the believers were first called Christians at Antioch. Antioch became one of the five leading centers of the early Christian Church because of their sincere faith (Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch).
Because the new believers lifestyle sincerely reflected that of Jesus. The non-believers could clearly see the grace in the life of the new believers was the same grace they were hearing in the preaching about Jesus. If one has communist leanings and quotes and acts like Lenin, then you would call them a communist. If one talks and acts like Jesus, you would call him a Christian. This is a great privilege and a great responsibility that your life somehow reflects the life of the King of kings and Lord of Lords. Also that means if we claim to be a Christian and our life doesn’t reflect Jesus’ life then we drag his name through the mud and must stand before him at the Judgment.
During the famine in the time of Emperor Claudius how were the new Gentile believers moved to help the brothers and sisters in Judea (29,30)?
“The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.”
This shows the new believers true faith to God and thankfulness to God. The Greek believers had no relationship or knowledge of the believers in Jerusalem. But they were united in Jesus and thus could have a relationship with the Jerusalem church. The Greeks were thankful for the bible teachers sent to help them strengthen their faith and wanted to show their gratitude to God by helping the suffering believers in Jerusalem.
How can you stay true to the Lord in this generation?