God Showed Up
“And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:45).
At the beginning of Acts 10, you see Peter having a big argument with God, as you may recall. He went up on the roof and was a little hungry, waiting for dinner. In a trance he had a vision. A sheet came down with all of these unclean animals and God said, “Take, kill and eat.” And Peter said, “No way, Lord.”
There’s the power of traditions for you. His tradition was so strong, so embedded, and so engrained in him, that God Himself spoke and Peter said, “No, God.” That’s how powerful traditions are. Three times he said, “No, God. No, Lord.” So, Peter is pretty pig-headed at this point. Then a few things begin to happen. God tells Peter that some men are going to show up at his door. “Ding, dong,” goes the bell. “Oh, these must be the men that God just told me about. All right.” So Peter invited them into his home, which in itself was an act that a Jew wouldn’t be very prone to do. And it says Peter became their host.
So, Peter then goes with those men—which again, there wasn’t much of a precedent for going with Gentiles, anywhere. He went into their home too. The first thing he said was, “You know I shouldn’t even be in here. But I am because God told me to. I saw a trance and it said, ‘Don’t call any men unclean that God has called clean.’” Peter finally understood what the vision was all about. But even so, he was just getting into his “sermon” now, and he starts off with, “What do you guys want anyway?”
He still hadn’t quite made the link about what God was trying to do. He’s talking away and to him the Kingdom of God is consisting of mere words. But then God showed up, and they began to speak in languages they hadn’t learned. Something bizarre was going on.
Later in Acts 11, Peter is recounting the issue to the Apostles who were questioning him, “Peter, what are you doing, going into the home of these Gentiles?” And Peter said, “You don’t understand. I had the same attitude you guys have, but God showed up. I couldn’t stop it. So I said, ‘What hinders these men from being baptized in water?’ God visited them the same way He did us. Remember the words of John that he would baptize in water, but Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit. So I couldn’t stop it. God showed up. All of my traditions had to melt. All of my prejudices, my biases, and all of my scriptural knowledge had to go to the wayside, because God showed up and it was undeniable.”
Let that be the thing that marks your life—the Word of God coming forth clearly. Let your passion and your fervent, effectual prayer, like the man at midnight be, “God, pour out something men can see and hear. Break the bondage of tradition that is stronger than the Lordship of Jesus Christ. God, pour out something that will wake these people up. I can’t do it. My words are not persuasive enough and I’m not smart enough. They might even know their Bibles better than I do. But God, show up and break the prejudices and biases in a way that can’t be denied.” Make that your prayer, would you please?
“If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17).
That ought to be the remark that everybody makes when they hear the Word of God from us. “Who am I that I could withstand God, in spite of all my biases, prejudices, and religious upbringing? Who am I that I could withstand God?” Let that be the comment that people make when they walk away from an encounter with the Christ in you—the same way as they responded when they encountered the physical Christ when He walked on earth. “Who am I that I could withstand God?”
Barnabas had the same attitude when he went to Antioch to see what was happening there:
“When he came and he had seen the Grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:23).
Here’s Barnabas showing up in Antioch because the Apostles who had sent him there were saying, “Something weird is going on in Antioch.” Men had been scattered by the persecution in Jerusalem several years earlier (Acts 8). So, men had traveled some 700-800 miles to go up to Antioch, and it says God was giving increase there. Many people, multitudes, were believing in the Lord, and Barnabas shows up at the Apostles’ command to go and find out what’s going on up there with the Gentiles.
These new converts in Antioch weren’t even Samaritans. They didn’t have any of the Jewish traditions or know any of the Talmud or the Pentateuch. They didn’t know any of it, so all of a sudden they had a totally non-Jewish church in Antioch. Barnabas goes up to see what’s going on and finds a bunch of uncircumcised Gentiles. How could it be? Barnabas showed up and notice what he said: “When he came and he had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.”
He saw the grace of God. He saw God manifested in their presence and said, “Who am I that I should withstand God.” And he encouraged them. Years later, it would still be an issue whether all those guys should have been circumcised or not (Acts 15). But Barnabas saw the grace of God and that was all he needed to know. He didn’t have to reason his way through the whole thing. If God shows up, men are without excuse and without argument.
Pray that God will show up and the grace of God will be manifested. “With great power the apostles testified and great grace, mega-charis, was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). Grace was on them all.
“And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom but in demonstration of Spirit and power, that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1Cor. 2:4-5).
If you read through First and Second Corinthians, you’ll find that Paul and Apollos had this thing going on that was hard for Paul. Maybe some other time we can talk about that. Paul makes a sarcastic comment about, “I didn’t need letters when I came to you” (2Cor. 3:1). He said that because if you look back in Acts 18 and 19, you’ll see that Apollos got letters from the brothers in Ephesus to go to Corinth. Paul is leaving Corinth after establishing the church, and Apollos is leaving Ephesus heading toward Corinth, and he’s coming with letters in his hand. So Paul is constantly making these sarcastic comments like, “Well, all right, he was persuasive and powerful in speech and I didn’t come with that kind of persuasion. If you’re comparing my contemptible speech to that of Apollos, you’ve got the wrong man. But let me tell you this much: it was with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power lest it be based on my persuasive skills, wisdom, and knowledge.”
In 1 Corinthians 4 he says, “I apply these things for my sake and Apollos’ sake,” referring to, “my conscience is clear but that doesn’t make me innocent. God will judge on the appointed day, the motives of men’s hearts.” Paul didn’t want to touch it. He didn’t want to deal with it about Apollos directly, but there was definitely some tension there and you see it showing up again and again.
Here’s the point I want to make. If you don’t have persuasive skills or eloquent speech, and your knowledge and wisdom aren’t monumental, that’s all right because unlearned and ignorant men turned the world upside down. “Not many of you were wise,” was the comment he made to the Corinthians (1Cor 1:26), because being wise or persuasive isn’t the issue. The issue is that God has hidden these things from the wise and the learned and the scholarly and revealed them to those who are as little children, with tender and obedient hearts (Luke 10:21).
Paul said, “I don’t have to have persuasive skills and eloquence because God attested with the Spirit and with power.” To the Thessalonians he said the message came to them “with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction was upon you” (1Thess. 1:5). It was like he was saying, “I rest my case.”
God showed up. God showed up! That’s got to be the cry of your heart with every step you take on planet Earth. With every step you take on this globe let it be with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Let great grace be manifested wherever you go. God showed up. You don’t want to be another good Joe with a different philosophy as you argue your case. Let it be something that’s undeniably God. Not with eloquence, human persuasive skills and human wisdom, but rather, “God, pour out something men can see and hear. Let it be a demonstration of Your Spirit and of power.” I risk my life crying out for that. Let it be Deity and not man.