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Are You Sure About That God?
God does not always act as we think He should. More often than
not, He doesn't. Not because He isn't consistent He is. Theologians
refer to God's consistency as the immutability of God. God said,
"For I, the Lord, do not change." (Malachi 3:6 NASB) and the Psalmist wrote,
"Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work
of Thy hands.  Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all
of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt
change them, and they will be changed.  But Thou art the same,
And Thy years will not come to an end." (Psalm 102:25-27 NASB) The writer
of Hebrews said something similar when he wrote, "Jesus Christ the
same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8 KJV)
Today the error of Open Theology spuriously teaches that God evolves.
He does not. He is the eternal constant in a constantly changing
world. When God spoke to Moses He identified Himself as "I AM WHO I AM."
(Exodus 3:14 NASB) Enough said.
Yet even though God never changes, there are times that He is
a complete mystery to us times when we cannot anticipate what He will do
and we are completely surprised by something He says. Take our text
today. Immediately after the conversion of Saul, some things happened
that were a bit out of the ordinary.
This portion of the text begins with an unusual miracle.
Tabitha, a good woman who was constantly doing good deeds died. The
church reacted by ministering to the family's immediate needs. They
cleaned her up and sent for their pastor, Simon Peter to come. Peter
immediately went to her house. The other widows greeted him, openly
wept over their loss and showed Peter the clothes that Tabitha had made
for them while she was still alive. Peter asked them to leave the
room, and when he was alone with the body he knelt and prayed. He
looked toward the corpse and said, "Tabitha, get up!" (vs. 40) And
she did. As news spread throughout Joppa of the miracle, a strange
thing happened. Peter stayed in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner
(vs 43). Strange because according to Leviticus 11:35-40 Simon was
As a tanner, Simon was constantly touching carcasses and was unclean,
yet Peter stayed with him. It was in that environment that God would
speak to Peter and cause him to ask, "Are you sure about that God?"
Peter went up to the rooftop to pray. It was around noon,
so his prayers were fighting for his attention with his hunger and his
hunger won. During the preparation of the food he slipped into a
dream-like state and God began to speak to him.
Meanwhile, Cornelius, a God-fearing gentile had sent some of his
servants to get Simon Peter. An angel of the Lord had appeared to
Cornelius and said, "'Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial
before God.  And now dispatch some men to Joppa, and send for a man
named Simon, who is also called Peter;  he is staying with a certain
tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.'" Acts 10:4-6 (NASB)
While the servants traveled, Peter dreamed. Acts 10:11-16
says, "He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down
by its four corners.  In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles,
and birds.  Then a voice said to him, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat
them.'  'Never, Lord,' Peter declared. 'I have never in all my life
eaten anything forbidden by our Jewish laws.'  The voice spoke again,
'If God says something is acceptable, don't say it isn't.'  The same
vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was pulled up again to
Verse 14 has two words together that should never be together,
"never" and "Lord." A strong reaction from Peter. It reminds
me of another time Peter said "no" to God. In Matthew 26:34
Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you that this very night, before a cock
crows, you shall deny Me three times." (NASB) Do you remember Peter's response?
"Peter said to Him, 'Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.'"
(Matthew 26:35 NASB) Peter said no, I won't deny you, but just as Jesus
said he would, he did. I don't think Peter was arguing with Jesus
in the dream like he did before, I think his resistance came from an inner
conflict between the religion he was raised with and the relationship that
was transforming his life. It was Peter asking, "Are you sure about
that God? Are you sure that you want me to violate what I was taught,
so I can do what you say?"
There comes a point in all of our lives when we must own our faith.
It isn't that we necessarily reject the faith of our parents or arbitrarily
cast off the teachings of our church it is that we all come to a point
where we are old enough to make up our own minds about what we believe.
This was that sort of moment for Peter. God never intended for the
Jewish people to form an exclusive group one that kept people from coming
to Him. His plan from the beginning was for salvation to come to
the world through His chosen people. But somewhere along the way
they got sidetracked and became a stumbling block to the world. Peter
asked, "Are you sure about that God?" and God said yes.
With the vision fresh on his mind, Peter responded to a knock
on the door from Cornelius' servants. Verse 20 says, "But arise,
go downstairs, and accompany them without misgivings; for I have sent them
Myself." (NASB) Peter made the journey and two conversions took place.
Cornelius became a Christian and Peter came to understand that the gospel
is for all the people, not just for people like him. He said, "I
most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 
but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome
to Him." (Acts 10:34-35 NASB)
A point Paul made with clarity in Ephesians 3:6 when he wrote,
"And this is the secret plan: The Gentiles have an equal share with the
Jews in all the riches inherited by God's children. Both groups have believed
the Good News, and both are part of the same body and enjoy together the
promise of blessings through Christ Jesus." (NLT) And in Col. 1:27 when
he wrote, "to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of
In his book, An Unstoppable Force, Erwin McManus writes, "Jesus
came and destroyed the dividing wall that not only separated man from God
but also Jew from Gentile. God is about destroying walls that divide.
The church will gain traction in the multicultural environment when she
begins to dismantle the walls created not by the hands of God but by our
own hands. Sometimes this will require nothing less than confession
of the sin of racism and prejudice and the kind of repentance that leads
to change. It isn't enough to go to church with a diverse world;
God calls us to embrace those who are different as brothers and sisters."
(An Unstoppable Force, p. 54)
Today most people agree that the gospel belongs to all people
and they should have equal access to it. The problem isn't with our
belief system here, but our application of our beliefs. There are two ways
to apply this belief. One is to welcome all races, cultures and backgrounds
into the same church. The other is to build separate churches for
every group a separate but equal policy that smacks of segregation.
The cornerstone of the church growth philosophy is the homogeneous
unit principle that people will more likely cluster into groups of people
like them. And so many churches take the path of least resistance
and only concentrate on people like them. Recently, I was asked about
the homogenous unit principle at a Future
Church Conference by a denomination worker. "We've found it more
efficient to plant church for each group," he said. I didn't argue
with his point, because I believe he is right it is more efficient.
What I said was this, "our church property is valued at $10.5 million,
does the denomination have that kind of money to plant a church in our
community to reach Hispanics?" His answer, of course, was no.
And my reply was, then we'll continue to build a church that welcomes people
from all backgrounds. Not because it is easier. Not because
it creates less problems in the church. But because it is the right
thing to do.
Peter said, "I most certainly understand now that God is not one
to show partiality,  but in every nation the man who fears Him and
does what is right, is welcome to Him." (Acts 10:34-35 NASB)
Find out how to get a personal copy of the conference
mentioned in this sermon.