6th Response to Legalism
We begin again with the common understanding of what legalism is, doing works of the Torah, or law, to gain salvation, as defined by the bone of contention around the First Church Council: Acts 15:1, 15 (NKJV) “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” . . . 15But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.””
Oh my brother, I thought you could handle the Word of Yahweh more accurately. Let’s move on to Acts chapter 10, Peter and Cornelius, the first non-Hebrew family, or home group, to experience New Covenant salvation. Acts 10:1-48 (NKJV) “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2a devout [Sabbath-keeping] man and one who feared Yahweh with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to Yahweh always. 3About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of Yahweh coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” 4And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before Yahweh. 5Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” 7And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout [Sabbath-keeping] soldier from among those who waited on him continually. 8So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.” I’m not even going to explain the word devout, that’s a whole other Bible study. Just notice that some Romans living in Israel followed Judaism as their religion. These folks were already seeking Yahweh and Yahweh saw they were ripe for harvest. Now Yahweh has to prep Peter for the evangelistic outreach to Gentiles. This whole chapter is about evangelizing Gentiles, not about food, or non-food, whether clean or unclean food or non-food. Please get that in your thinking.
“9The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour [high noon]. 10Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.””
Notice that Peter, a mere man, immediately rebukes the King of the universe for speaking something that he KNOWS is against Yahweh’s own commandments. Peter was always a little hasty with his mouth, not waiting to hear all that Yahshua wanted to say to him.
”15And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What Yahweh has cleansed you must not call common.” 16This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.” Yahweh is not changing His mind about non-food or unclean food items with this vision. Yahweh is testing and preparing Peter’s heart. Yahweh is preparing to show Peter that NO MAN IS TO BE CONSIDERED UNCLEAN. Look at verse 28b (and verses 34-35) to verify that Peter GOT AND UNDERSTOOD THE LESSON, “. . . But Yahweh has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Yahweh was not giving Peter a new law or command on food vs. non-food, He was teaching Peter that no human is unclean. Peter already understood clean and unclean food, just from his Jewish upbringing, but Peter DID NOT UNDERSTAND that no human was unclean. Yahweh did the sheet from heaven thing three times as a sign for Peter to recognize when the three men from Caesarea arrived at the door. Yahweh got Peter’s attention with food/non-food/clean/unclean, because Peter was hungry and knew kosher/non-kosher food when he saw it. Unlike many Christians today, Peter GOT THE LESSON, no human is unclean before Yahweh. It’s foolishness to think this vision was about clean or unclean food/non-food.
”17Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. 18And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. 19While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” 21Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” 22And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears Yahweh and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” 27And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. 28Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation [a man-made oral tradition of Judaism, hence Peter’s misunderstanding about no man being unclean before Yahweh]. But Yahweh has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” Remember Galatians 2:11ff? It took awhile for Peter to fully get over this old man-made tradition of Judaism that considered all non-Jews as unclean. Paul had to rebuke him at least once more for his hypocrisy. Very few of us learn our lessons the first time Yahweh tries to teach them to us.
”29Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” 30So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of Yahweh. 32Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ 33So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before Yahweh, to hear all the things commanded you by Yahweh.” 34Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that Yahweh shows no partiality. 35But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” Please read and meditate on verses 34-35 for as long as you need to. Peter now understood the TRUTH of the vision that Yahweh had given him, that it pertained to men, not clean or unclean food/non-food.
“36The word which Yahweh sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Yahshua HaMashiach–He is Master of all– 37that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38how Yahweh anointed Yahshua of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for Yahweh was with Him. 39And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40Him Yahweh raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by Yahweh, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42And He commanded us to preach to the people [NOW Peter understood that the Gospel was to go to all mankind.], and to testify that it is He who was ordained by Yahweh to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” 44While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45And those of the circumcision who believed [Messianic Jews!] were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify Yahweh. Then Peter answered, 47“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Master. Then they asked him to stay a few days.”
This is truly an amazing chapter in Christian history. Cornelius’ home group became the first non-Jewish Messianic congregation/assembly in human history!! Notice they were saved by grace through faith in Yahshua alone and filled with the Holy Spirit, just like the Jewish brothers were at that first Pentecost after the resurrection! Yahweh is wonderful, amazing, and so good. We should be thankful He’s not partial towards any human, but truly wants whosoever will to come in to the Family of Yahweh. The playing field is level at the execution stake of Yahshua. We love you Father! We praise you Yahshua! We are thankful to you, Holy Spirit! Acts 10 is a great family photo.
Gene Benjamin II
February 17, 2013 CE