“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:4)
After coming to an understanding of the basic definition of a “spiritual gift”, we now need to examine each of the different types of spiritual gifts that God has given to man.
There are three basic types of spiritual gifts given to the Lord’s local churches:
1. Gifted Men – These are men, used by God to serve the Lord as a part of the ministry of His local assemblies.
2. Accrediting Gifts – These are the gifts whose main purpose is to establish and accredit His Word and place of worship. A secondary purpose of these gifts is to minister to others within the context of local church ministries.
3. Ministering Gifts – These are the gifts whose main purpose is to testify of Christ and His Word through the ministries of His local assemblies.
We will continue our study of the accrediting gifts by looking at begin studying the Accrediting Gifts that involve SUPERNATURAL PROCLAMATION OF THE TRUTH.
Accrediting Gifts (Sign Gifts)
In our last lesson we began to take a look at the gift of “diverse kinds of tongues” that are found in the division of accrediting gifts involving the SUPERNATURAL PROCLAMATION OF THE TRUTH. In particular, we looked at the first time that the gift of tongues was exercised on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:1-24…
1. The gift was given to the local church at Jerusalem, not to believers in general (vs 1)
2. The gift was given following the local assembly being baptized IN the Spirit (not BY the Spirit) (vs 2)
3. The gift was given following the Spirit filling the church members (vs 4)
4. The gift had a visible manifestation: tongues of fire sitting on their heads (vs 3);
5. The gift had an audible manifestation: speaking in other human languages that were unknown to the speakers but known to the hearers (vs 4-11)
6. The Word of God was used to clearly explain what had taken place amid the confusion (vs 12-21)
7. The message proclaimed through the gift of tongues was proclaiming the wonderful works of their God…. His message of salvation and all that He had done for them. (vs 11-24)
Following this event, when the Bible speaks of the gift of tongues, it simply mentions the gift without a lengthy description of what we have just learned. This principle can be used with many different teachings of the Bible. This principle of Biblical interpretation is described as “The Law Of First Mention”. This principle states that “the very first time a word, doctrine or other teaching is mentioned in the Bible, usually, the Scriptures gives that word, doctrine or teaching its most complete description and meaning.” This is the case with the gift of tongues. This first reference to it has given us the detailed description of the gift which is to be applied throughout all of the other Biblical mentions of the gift.
The “Gift Of Diverse Kinds Of Tongues” Resulting From Baptism In The Spirit: At The House of Cornelius
The miraculous events that took place on the Day of Pentecost involved the local church at Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-24), a Jewish assembly of believers. This same type of event took place involving the local church that met in the house of Cornelius as well (Acts 10:1-11:18). This assembly was made up of Gentile believers.
Just as the events of the Day of Pentecost empowered and accredited the local church as the place of worship for believing Jews, the events we are about to study that took place at the house of Cornelius would be the empowering and accrediting of the local church as the worship place for believing Gentiles.
This will be our study for this lesson (Acts 10:1-11:18)…
Vs 1-2 – There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian [band], [A] devout [man], and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
Here we find a description of Cornelius. He is said to be:
1. a centurion of the Italian band – he was a military leader ruling over a group of 100 men from Italy
2. a devout man that feared God with all his house – his thoughts and actions were submitted to the Lord, he was motivated by a reverence for the Lord and a fear of His hand of chastening. His family was following in his footsteps of Godly living.
4. gave much alms to the people – he gave many gifts of compassion to the poor and needy
5. prayed to God always – he enjoyed consistent communion with the Lord and regular times of prayer.
Vs 3-8 – He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for [one] Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; And when he had declared all [these] things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
Cornelius, after receiving a command from the Lord as delivered by an angel in a vision, sends three men to Joppa to find Peter. This was done so that Cornelius might receive further instructions through the ministry of Peter.
Note that Cornelius addresses the angel of God by the title “Lord”. He recognized the great authority that the angel possessed as being one sent by God Himself. This, along with his quick obedient response to the angel’s commands, reinforces for us the great humility and desire to please the Lord that was possessed by Cornelius.
Vs 9-16 – On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice [spake] unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Peter, after arriving at Joppa, falls into a trance and is sent a vision from the Lord. This vision was of a sheet descending from heaven, which contained ceremonially unclean animals.
A voice says “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat “. Instead of immediately obeying the voice of the Lord, Peter questions Him, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” The Lord responds to Peter three times, reassuring him that he should partake of the animals. His explanation was “What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common.”
What was this all about?
This was the Lord’s way of preparing Peter to go to the Gentile church in Cornelius’ house to accredit their ministry. The animals in the vision were unclean based upon the Jewish ceremonial laws, and therefore could not be eaten. However, based upon the Lord’s command, Peter was to no longer obligated to keep the ceremonial laws which had been fulfilled by Christ during His earthly ministry. It was now Peter’s responsibility to simply obey the instructions of the Lord with no regard to the OT ceremonial laws.
In much the same way, in the OT ceremonial laws of worship, the Gentiles were looked upon as unclean and unable to participate in the temple services. However, now through Christ, by virtue of His death on the cross, Gentiles were given equal access to the worship of God. As the servants of Cornelius (all of whom were Gentiles) approached, Peter was to recognize the worship taking place in the Gentile house of Cornelius was a genuine group of believers who had access to the same saving work of Christ as Jewish believers.
Vs 17-23 – Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what [is] the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged [them]. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
Peter (along with others from Joppa) in obedience to the Spirit’s leadership, and an understanding of the vision that he had just received, meets the men sent by Cornelius and accompanied them to Caesarea where Cornelius lived.
Vs 24-33 – And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped [him]. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I [unto you] without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And 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, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of [one] Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
At Peter’s arrival, Cornelius fell at his feet, again showing the great respect and submission that he held toward a messenger of his Lord. Then both Peter and Cornelius recount the events leading up to their meeting.
Vs 34-43 – Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which [God] sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, [I say], ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, [even] to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God [to be] the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
Based upon the vision he had received, now understands that Gentiles can be saved and worship equally with the Jews within a local church setting. This motivates him to share the gospel with the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house. He does this by sharing with them a quick summary of the earthly ministry of Christ at His first coming. Notice this account includes all the parts of the gospel message: Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and the witnesses to that resurrection.
Vs 44-46a – While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
Following the presentation of the gospel message the Holy Spirit “fell” on all those that were present in the house. In Acts 11:15-17, Peter clearly declares that this is the same type of event that took place at Pentecost (Acts 2:). In other words, baptism in the Spirit along with gift of tongues (including both a visible aspect [tongues of fire] and an audible aspect [languages unknown to the speaker]) were now being experienced by the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house.
The other Jews accompanying him were “astonished”. Why? Because they recognized this event was of the same type as Pentecost. Therefore, it was an accreditation and empowerment of this Gentile church. It was proof to them that Gentiles could now be equal recipients of salvation and especially membership and worship of the Lord within a local church.
Vs 46b-48 – Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
The logical result of this accreditation of the Gentile believers was to allow them to be baptized in water and form a local church body.
It is very important to notice that the Jews who saw this event did not simply interpret the event as proof that Gentiles could be saved. They also recognized this accreditation involved the allowance of the worship of Gentiles within the local assembly. It is this truth that caused them to allow the Gentile believer’s baptism and formation of the local assembly. If they had only seen this event as an accreditation of Gentile salvation, there would be no reason for them to allow the Gentiles to then be baptized and form a local church.
So again, we must stress, what originally took place at Pentecost, and later in the house of Cornelius was not simply the accreditation of the gospel going to the Gentiles. It was, most importantly, the accreditation of the local assembly as the worship place of Jehovah in New Testament times for the Gentile believer. It goes against the context of both these accounts to look at these as accrediting believers, but must be interpreted within the context of the assembly of believers and the accrediting and empowering of those assemblies.
1) And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2) And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,
3) Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
Some of the Jewish believers that had heard of Peter’s visit to Capernaum, was critical of Peter’s work among them. To respond to their criticisms, Peter shares with them the events that had taken place…
4) But Peter rehearsed [the matter] from the beginning, and expounded [it] by order unto them, saying,
5) I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:
6) Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
7) And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.
8) But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.
9) But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, [that] call not thou common.
10) And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.
To being, Peter shared with them the Godly vision that he had received. It was this vision that explained to Peter that Gentiles would now be included in salvation and the worship of the Lord within local assemblies.
11) And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.
12) And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house:
13) And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;
14) Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
15) And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Next, Peter shared with them his contact with those in Cornelius’ house and the baptism in the Holy Spirit that the Lord had performed in their midst. It was the vision that sanctioned Peter’s visit to the Gentiles and it was the baptism in the Spirit that sanctioned their salvation experience and, especially, their membership in the assembly that would meet in Cornelius’ house.
16) Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Peter then shares with them that this event, along with the Pentecost experience, was a fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by the Lord Himself in Acts 1:4-5. This being another proof of the validity of Peter’s experiences and his ministry to the Gentiles.
17) Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as [he did] unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?
18) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Once the Jewish believers came to a greater understanding of the works that had taken place, they too acknowledged that the inclusion of Gentiles to salvation and worship was unquestioningly of God.
Note: With the fulfillment of this event in combination with the events that took place on the Day of Pentecost, we have both the Jewish local assembly and the Gentile local assembly accredited. This falls in line with the other places of worship that had been established by God throughout history. In every case, the worship places of the Lord are only accredited once. Each accreditation was included in the historical record of the Word of God. Therefore, no other accreditation is needed. By faith, followers of the Lord can open the Scriptures and know these are the God-chosen places of worship based upon the occurrence of these events in history.
The accreditation of each worship place throughout history:
1. The Tabernacle: Exodus 40:34-35
2. The Temple: 1 Kings 8:10-11
3. The Local Assembly for Jewish Worship: Acts 2:1-24
4. The Local Assembly for Gentile Worship: Acts 10:1-11:18
In our next study, we will look at other times in the Bible that this same gift of tongues was exercised within local assemblies.
Accrediting Gifts (Sign Gifts)
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
The “Gift Of Diverse Kinds Of Tongues” Exercised In The House of Cornelius
Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
And, being assembled together with [them], commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, [saith he], ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.