and behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from caesarea. and the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. these six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. and he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘send to joppa and bring Simon who is called peter; he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ as i began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. [acts 11:11-15]
peter here is retelling the events of acts 10–refuting the claims of the circumcision party.
oh, how often i have been critical and unlistening! but the circumcision party takes the time to listen to peter’s testimony as he speaks to them in unexaggerated truth–his words follow the events of acts 10 beat by beat–then something happens to the circumcision party that can only be characterized as a work fo the Lord–their hearts are softened by the testimony.
for you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. [romans 8:15-17]
the circumcision party has a spirit of slavery to the law–they want to fall back into a tradition that requires something other than simply knowing Jesus Christ. but the critical line here is this–that “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”–as peter speaks in the Spirit and in truth, these brothers in Christ are being persuaded by the Spirit of the truth of peter’s claims of God’s supernatural work and acceptance of the gentiles.
when we speak to other Christians, we do not have to convince them of the truth by our plausible or well-chosen words, if we are speaking the truth in love, if we are speaking the words of God in the Spirit, it should provide great encouragement to them–the result should result in the glorification of God–let us find ourselves spending less time speaking about politics, weather and sports and more time testifying to the mighty works of God–what he is doing in our workplaces, schools, and cities! as we rest in the presence of God today, let us ask for help to know to what brothers in sisters in Christ need encouragement by the Spirit!