Wednesday in the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts 11:1-18

God Grants Repentance that Leads to Life

News reached Judea that the Gentiles “had received the word of God.”  You would think that this would be cause for rejoicing, and I’m sure it was, except for one group of men called, “the circumcision party.”  We assume that these were Jewish Christians of a Pharisaic background.  It seems from other texts that they taught that “unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (15:1).  Luke refers to these as constituting a “party” within the Church.  It is most unfortunate that parties should exist in the Church of Jesus Christ, but they often do and usually to her detriment.  Our Lord, who is the head of his Church, demands our unity and calls us to peace (1 Corinthians 7:15).  Granted, heresies arise and when they do the saints must contend for the faith (Jude 3).  But a party spirit destroys unity.

So Peter rehearses the events that happened, from his vision in Joppa to his preaching in Cornelius’ house where the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentile listeners.  Of course, he related his own vision of the sheet let down from heaven filled with “unclean” animals, and God’s rebuke to Peter, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”  Peter adds that the Holy Spirit commanded him to accompany the men from Caesarea, “making no distinction.”  And when the Holy Spirit was given to these Gentiles in the same way that he was given to the Jews, Peter exclaimed, “Who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”  And when they heard this they fell silent, glorifying God and saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Did you hear that: God grants repentance that leads to life.  Faith, repentance, the Holy Spirit—all of these are given by God as gifts that we may be saved; we do not give them to ourselves.  We are saved by grace through faith and this is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).  Repentance has a double aspect: 1) when we are saved and receive from God that initial turning away from the world and to Him in hatred of sin and love of righteousness; and, 2) that daily discipline in which we repent anew every day, dying to self and living unto Him (Colossians 3:5-17).  But ultimately, all is of God.  And it is because God grants these gifts that 18th century hymnist, Augustus Toplady, could pen these words: “Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.”  Praise God that He has granted repentance that leads to life unto you.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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