by Barry Newton
Twice mentioned, that’s all. Only two events are identified in Acts with the language “baptized with the Holy Spirit.” The message God sent has left no doubt about the hues of skin color God desires in the pew and around the table.
Prior to his ascension Jesus had foretold his apostles that in a few days they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:5) Then the day of Pentecost had come. Hearing a loud wind, crowds gathered around the house where the apostles had assembled to discover some uneducated Galilean men speaking in other languages! Peter explained that what they were witnessing was the result of God pouring out His Spirit.
There should be no doubt. God was at work. God’s community built on Christ would include Jews.
Fast forward. Again we find Peter preaching and the Holy Spirit falling upon some individuals. Once again the recipients began to speak in foreign languages. Furthermore, Peter acknowledged the recipients had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 11:15-16)
There could be no doubt. God was at work.
But unlike the first occurrence, it was the preacher and those already saved who would learn a lesson. IIn spite of some astonishment by some Jewish Christians and resistance by others (Acts 10:45;11:2), there could be no doubt God’s community built on Christ would also include all races. (Acts 11:18)
First upon Jews and then upon Gentiles, the Spirit had descended. With God indicating his desire that there be no ethnic barriers preventing fellowship within Christ, Peter commanded Cornelius and those with him to be baptized with water. Thus began the expansion of the church among non-Jews.
As non-Jews, do we take it for granted today that we can be part of God’s people? Have we ever wondered whose idea a multi-ethnic church is? Let there be no doubt. In dramatic fashion, God has shown that he intends for those of us who do not share a Jewish heritage to belong to the one community he is building.