Peter Reports to the Church
 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.  So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying,  “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”  But Peter began and explained it to them in order:  “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me.  Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air.  And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’  But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’  But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’  This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.  And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea.  And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house.  And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter;  he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’  As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.  And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’  If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”  When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (ESV)
- Circumcised critics
The Church has no lack of critics. Sometimes, when the Church is in error or in sin, the criticism is warranted and should be received as God’s gracious invitation to repent. But at other times, the criticism is baseless and motivated by jealousy, insecurity, and fear. The circumcised critics in this text fall into the latter category. What better way to respond to Peter’s successful evangelism than to criticize his efforts? When God is on the move, you’ll always find a church member complaining about it.
- Prejudice and racism die slowly
Peter had a front row seat to the conversion of Cornelius and his Gentile buddies. When he was criticized for it, he defended the Gospel and stood up for his new Gentile brothers and sisters. But Peter’s struggle with prejudice and racism was not over. Later, Paul would confront Peter for slipping back into his old ways, favoring Jews and marginalizing the believing Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-13). Our struggle against sin never ends. Though we are forgiven and have new power to live new lives in Christ, we still struggle against sin and must be brought back to the truth of God over and over again.
- The unity of the Church
Something unprecedented was taking place in the early Church. Individuals and families from every ethnicity were being brought together and reconciled to one another in the Church. This had never been seen before. Not in Israel. Not in the world. In Jesus, God was creating a new humanity in which people from every nation were invited to repent, trust in Jesus, receive forgiveness, and be reconciled to God and one another.
- When have you received justified criticism? When have you received unjustified criticism? How did you respond?
- Peter, and some in the early Church, struggled to see the Gentile believers as equals. Faith in Jesus did not make this sin automatically disappear. Against what sins have you or do you continue to struggle? What growth have you seen? What work remains to be done?
- Church unity is something that Luke continues to emphasize through Acts. How can you contribute to and cultivate unity in your church?
Call to Worship
Our Help Is in the Name of the LORD
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
 then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
 Blessed be the LORD,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth!
 We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped!
 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth. (ESV)
Prayer of Confession
Almighty God, Father of mercies, continue to work in us what is pleasing to you. Grant to us the grace to see our sins as you see them, so to grieve over them: then turn our sin into repentance, and let our repentance lead to forgiveness; and teach us diligently to guard all our actions that we may never willingly transgress your laws or disobey your Word, but make it our life's work to obey you, the joy of our souls to please you, and the purest of all our desires to live with you in your kingdom of grace and glory. Amen.
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources
Family Discipleship Weekly Resources are tools for families to use to help connect Sunday’s sermon to the rest of your week, fostering conversations and habits of worship.