The title sounds more serious than what I’m about to say, but it sounds more Biblical than, Let Us Think Together.
My question is how are some things important (God said) at one time, and not important (God said) in another with no scriptural explanation as to why?
Last Sunday I was talking about Peter’s visit to Cornelius, and the vision of the sheet which came from heaven filled with all kinds of animals, both clean and unclean, according to the law. (God said) I quipped that Peter did not remind the angelic voice (God?) that it was not he who decided to call some animals unclean, but Moses. (God)
When did that law change? Jesus never said anything about it, except Mark, writing after the fact, in Mark 7:19, says Jesus declared all foods clean. I did find one Jewish writer who said Jesus wasn’t talking about food, but more-or-less about eating with unwashed hands. If they ate clean “undefiled” food with unwashed hands it was till clean food. I don’t think Mark saw it that way.
The issue in Acts 10 is not food, but people. However, food is used to teach the truth. Peter sees it as about food. He is told to kill and eat. He replies, “Surely not Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” Peter thinks it’s about food. Before he could decide what to do, the sheet is gone. As Peter ponders all this, the men from Cornelius arrive with the message about their Gentile friend. About this time Peter gets a message from the Spirit (God) which tells him to go with the men. By the way, as best we can tell, they were Gentiles, and yet Peter invites them into the house to spend the night. Somewhere along the line Peter begins to think the sheet is about people, and possibly indirectly also about food.
When Peter arrives at Cornelius’ house, he reminds him “That it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him.” He then says that God (in the sheet thing) had told him that he should not call any man impure or unclean.” Amazing revelation! He also says he now” knows that God accepts men (and women) from every nation who fear God and do what is right.” Double amazing! All kinds of walls started crumbling!
But my first question is, do we believe what Peter believed? And do we qualify it? My second question is, was the sheet about food, people, or both? If it wasn’t also about food, what value did it have? Unclean people also ate unclean food. Unclean food was a deeply rooted teaching from the Law of Moses. (God) Peter’s remark that he’d never defiled himself with unclean food, or unclean people, as in Gentiles, shows it was still a, dare I say, kosher teaching. At what point are we told this Old Testament teaching (by God) had been repealed? As I said, Mark alludes to Jesus doing it, but after the fact. It doesn’t seem Peter understood Jesus as having declared all foods clean. So how does such an ancient and significant law (from God and still maintained by kosher Jews today) get flipped in a matter of moments?
The answer is in Peter’s remark to Cornelius. “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism…” How did Peter come to realize that “truth”? Sure, a close reading of the prophets suggested it, along with Jesus’ sermon in Nazareth, but Peter’s attitude suggests it hadn’t been a repealed (by God) teaching from scripture. And yet he has seen a “truth.” He has seen a truth “beyond the sacred page.” A truth which came in a sheet in a “vision” with some help from the Spirit of God. No chapter and verse. No proof text. Just a vision and God’s spirit. I think we could say Peter had a revelation.
In Romans 8:14ff Paul talks about “those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” He adds that the same Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
What it means for “our” spirit to be “Spirit led” is debatable because of how it is understood, or misunderstood. However, that the Spirit of God is involved with “our” spirit (whatever that is) is a clear conclusion for Paul. And it would also seem that “sons” (children) of God are led by the Spirit of God. The tired and false idea that the Spirit of God is the Bible, thankfully has all but disappeared. Does the Bible lead? Yes. But people who claim to be led by it go off in all directions, and always have.
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? As I view scripture as a source, it seems to me the most notable moments of Spirit leading have to do with people’s lives. Was Abraham led by the Spirit? Was Moses moved by the Spirit of God in the bush? Were the prophets led by God when they railed against the injustices of the rulers? When it says, “The Lord spoke,” concerning a prophet or anyone, was there always a voice? Or was it that movement (spirit) inside that says to tell the truth?
When it said Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, what was the purpose, and the outcome? The purpose was to sort out what kind of Messiah he would be, and he chose to be the only one that would get God’s message into the world.
Peter had no chapter and verse telling him the food laws of Moses (God) had been dumped. Yet in a vision of a sheet filled with unclean animals and a “vision- voice,” Peter connects with a “truth” and he knows he has to break the law. “It’s against our law for a Jew…” (Acts 10:28)
It is God’s spirit testifying to our spirit that an idea, or “law,” no mater how old and biblical, and started for whatever reason, which destroys the truth Peter realized, must be set aside. You can be sure the Spirit of God never leads anyone to reject someone who fears God and does what is right.
Peter’s experience falls in line with something I keep saying: All Old Testament laws were given for a time and needed situations. Jews stopped selling their daughters. (Ex. 21:7) They stopped having rebellious sons stoned. (Deut. 21:18-21. See David and Absalom. The list could go on and on.
Just imagine what the world would be like if we understood it the way Peter did.
CONCERNS: Along with the cornea transplant, Judy Hall has had some other health issues to deal with. Erma Williams brother-in-law, Greg Lantz is doing better. Teresa Robertson’s aunt, Patricia Hall is dealing with lymphodema and another aunt, Reva Almond also needs prayers. Remember also these folks, Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Teryn Gaynor’s mother, Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjory Wilson and Melanie Gentry. Joni Beach’s parents health is declining and she is spending time with them in NC. Her aunt, Pat Voss and a niece, Jamie Cole also need prayer. Pray for Wayne Phlegar, Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas and Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT 19-24
Monday: Exodus 14:10-31
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-14
Wednesday: Romans 14:1-9
Thursday: John 5:1-18
Friday: Genesis 4:1-18
Saturday: Psalm 146:1-10
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 25-OCT.1
Monday: John 15:12-27
Tuesday: I Corinthians 13:1-13
Wednesday: John 6:35-51
Thursday: Matthew 17:14-23
Friday: I Peter 5:1-11
Saturday: Psalm 125:1-5
Today is Super Sunday. Along with the regular meal we have the leftover bar b que which was frozen after the Labor Day weekend event. Plan to stay for the meal and the fellowship.
Wayne Flora will be the worship leader for today’s service. We thank him for his willingness to serve.
The third Sunday service in October will be done by Susan Jordan, in which she will tell us about her week with Ezell Clinic in Guatemala.
We were saddened to learn of the death of former member, Rex White, who died August 31in Columbia SC. A military burial was scheduled for Fort Jackson is that same city.
RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE
Last Sunday evening was a special time at the Ronald McDonald House. Our own (and Roanoke’s) Chef Jeff Bland and a friend and fellow chef from Florida, provided the evening meal for the guests. From all reports it was a big success with lots of second helpings. Thanks Jeff, and pass it on to your friend.
PEAKS OF OTTER HIKE AND PICNIC
A sign-up list is on the foyer table for this October Super Sunday event. Interest was down a little last year, so let’s be sure our wishes are known as soon as possible as to how many want to continue it.
We received a card from Stephanie addressed to “My sweet church family.” In it she thanks everyone who helped with her move to Sarasota, Fla.
She has now settled in her new place to live (on a golf course) and is working as a private duty nurse.
She says her new church family has “adopted” her as we did, and that they are a loving group of people. The full note is on the foyer table. If you missed her new address in the hand-out it is 6281 Timber Lake Dr. H-5, Sarasota FL 34243