Eye witness accounts of something happening are so much better than someone giving their impressions of what is happening without experiencing it themselves. It’s one thing to hear about something or guess that something happened, but altogether different to experience it. The people at the house of Cornelius knew that God was God, but they had only believed in it in a second hand way. When Peter shared the gospel with them the Holy Spirit filled their lives and the change was first hand. After this great encounter with God Peter went back to Jerusalem and he was immediately questioned about the event, because the disciples in Jerusalem had heard a story but they wanted to hear it from Peter. He was there!!! All of this explanation is found in Acts 11:1-18 and Peter explains to them “precisely” as it had happened. A very important word “precisely.” He didn’t add big, magical, blown up details about what happened. He just told the truth as he knew it. In his explanation he shares how God came to him in a vision and the part about the men coming to the house where he was staying. How they showed up just at the time his vision ended and how he went with them. He shared about the part where when he started speaking the Holy Spirit came on them just like it had come on Peter and the others at the beginning. Then he capped the whole thing off with this statement. “So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?”
This is when the truth of Peter’s message takes on a whole new life. That life is the realization that God was still powerful and moving and he was doing something in other places besides Jerusalem. The message was undeniable. God was doing a new thing and he was doing it in the midst of the Gentiles. The gospel could longer be kept to a certain people anymore. I believe this part of the whole scripture is critical to the Christian faith in our country and worldwide. In America we have morphed the message of Christ into whatever is palatable for us. Thus different denominations were formed to take these differing opinions and convictions about the message and segment it. I have served in the Southern Baptist Denomination for many years, but my heart is first and foremost the gospel message. Not the Southern Baptist impression of what the gospel is, but what God has given to me personally. I didn’t receive this salvation by letting someone else believe for me. I didn’t believe from the rumors of salvation. I didn’t even believe because I had been raised in church. The message and the truth of it and the conviction of the Holy Spirit changed my life!! It was a personal belief in the truth of God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit that changed a willing heart that repented and believed. I didn’t receive my salvation through my parents or my preacher. It was between God and me. So, who was there at my time of salvation? God and me. Oh, a man shared with me how to receive Christ, but I had to experience it and do it myself. I repented of my sins and believed in Jesus and asked Him to come into my life and He did. Did I understand what was happening as an eleven year old child? You bet I did. I realized I was a horrible sinner and that my only hope was in Jesus and made the decision to follow Him. At that moment I received the Holy Spirit and received everything I needed to grow in my faith. I received freedom from the penalty of sin, the realization of what God’s Word means to me, and the desire to share this with others. My experience is very common for those who received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Whether you are a child or an adult, the Lord is the same and He wants the life change that happens to be an undeniable truth. I have heard preachers preach about receiving Christ and they make a bigger thing about becoming a member of the church than the life giving salvation that happens to the person in a very personal way. So what happens when a person joins a church, but doesn’t have life change? No Holy Spirit. No good fruit. No understanding of God’s Word. No worshipful heart. No joy!!! That is a lot of nos. These people have no eye witness account of God doing anything life changing in their life, but they are members of a church. That experience will not get them to heaven, nor use their life for Jesus Christ. But when a person really receives Jesus and the Holy Spirit takes over…..WOW!! Fireworks!! Power!!
Here is what happened after Peter told the eyewitness account from the house of Cornelius. Verse 18 “When they heard this, they had no future objections and praised God, saying, So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” It was Undeniable Power from God and Peter witnessed it and shared it and they accepted it as truth and realized God was going to do a worldwide thing. I want to give kudos here to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. They had in the past been known to be very selfish with the gospel but their reaction to Peter’s testimony shows there is hope for those who are so steeped in their traditions. The only way to get those people to believe God is still doing something awesome is to give them eyewitness accounts of it happening, but we must be out there preaching it so it can happen. Romans 10:14 “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?? Time to start preaching with our lives and our testimony and then the church will either rise up or crash down. Whatever happens the truth will be undeniable. By the way, this is really the testimony of Peter wherever he went and preached the gospel. Acts. 4:13 “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Do you want to astonish people? Share you eyewitness account of what Jesus did in your life and then let God do the rest. People WILL be saved. They will know you have been with Jesus!! It’s undeniable. You are the Eyewitness.
The Pilgrimage continues…..