Have you ever had a strong opinion about something and in an embarrassing moment, discovered that the status quo has changed? I am sure many of us have had this experience, if we are honest and humble enough to admit it. This is what was going through apostle Peter’s mind as he was confronted by the vision of ‘unclean’ animals and invited to kill and eat them (Acts 10:13). The Lord’s answer to Peter’s objection was simply that since He created all things, nothing should be considered unclean. All his life, Peter has been told these animals he should not eat. No wonder he is ‘greatly puzzled’!
Again, the intervention of the Spirit shows Peter what is happening (10:3, 10-11, 19). Cornelius’ servants arrive and Peter is ready to go the next day and see what God has in store. They arrive in Caesarea and meet Cornelius. “…So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say” (10:33), was like music to Peter’s ears. This is the kind of invitation that cannot be denied, so Peter then explains what has taken place during the past few years (v. 34f).
The people in Cornelius’ house are all ‘God-fearers’, Gentiles who have come to believe in the God of the Jews, YHWH. They understand something of the prophecies of the coming Messiah, the hope that God will one day deliver all his people from the tyranny of their Roman oppressors. The irony here is that Cornelius is a Roman soldier, yet he has chosen to follow the Jewish faith. He has seen enough of the work of the Holy Spirit to now also be open to what Peter explains about Jesus, the fulfillment of the promise of Messiah.
But suddenly without warning the Holy Spirit falls on all of them and they start speaking in tongues (v. 45, 46)! Of all the occasions in Acts that the Spirit falls like this, only on this occasion and Pentecost is tongues mentioned. There goes the claim by some that tongues is the only sign of the Spirit’s anointing. Tongues is one of the many gifts that can be given as the Spirit determines (1 Corinthians 12:11). This shows us that it is the Spirit’s sovereign will to gift these new believers by His will.
Maybe this is a good time in our spiritual walk to ask ourselves if we are fully submitted to God’s will for our lives. Have we accepted that Jesus is not only our Saviour but also our Lord (Philippians 2:11)? Do we see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s gifting? What gifts has the Lord given to us that we might minister to the Body of Christ at All Saints? Ask God in prayer to fill you with His Spirit, even if you have been filled before. Paul in Ephesians 5:18-19 encourages us to “go on being filled with the Holy Spirit” in a continual outpouring. God will answer your prayer.