In Acts 11, the Bible says the Apostles heard that the gentiles had received the Word of God. Reading between the lines, this was not considered a good thing for in verse 2 and 3 we read, And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!” The remainder of the chapter is a record of Peter’s response to their charges.
4 But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object descending like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came to me. 6 When I observed it intently and considered, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘Not so, Lord! For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ 10 Now this was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.
In verse 8, Peter acknowledged the tradition that he had been taught. He had no intention of eating what he had been taught about eating what the Scripture had been labeled as “unclean.” Notice something. Peter said, “I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat’.” Now, Peter has no idea whose voice it is that he heard and so his response was the right discussion. One might understand that this is the way temptation comes. Peter’s response to this “voice” is also telling; “Not so Lord!” Our response to temptation ought to always be addressed to the Lord, who is out strength! In speaking to the Lord, God spoke back!
In verse 11, “At that very moment, three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent to me from Caesarea. 12 Then the Spirit told me to go with them, doubting nothing.” The whole purpose of the vision God let down from heaven, was to let Peter know that he needed to go with these gentile men to their home. When Peter arrived at the gentile’s home, he recounted the following: “13 And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, 14 who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’”
This statement, “he will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” is very interesting. Some might look at this statement and conclude, “God has brought salvation to the elect who lived in this house.” He sent Peter to share the gospel with them because God has opened their eyes so that they can respond and be saved.” One thing is unquestionably true; God made it clear that these gentiles needed to hear the gospel to be saved. The question remains, how was this household saved?
Listen to Peter’s testimony; “15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” OK; here it is; “the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it did for us at the beginning.” Regeneration preceded their repentance and believing faith and they were saved. God told them to go find Peter and bring him to their house so that he could share the gospel and “you and your household WILL be saved.” How much clearer could the Scriptures be?
Consider verse 17. “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?” WOW. God gave these gentiles the SAME GIFT He gave us, notice this, “WHEN WE BELIEVED on the Lord Jesus Christ.” As Peter was sharing the gospel with them, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did for them when they believed, and these gentiles believed and THEN they were saved. God gave THE GIFT WHEN THEY BELIEVED. He did not give THE GIFT and THEN THEY BELIEVED.
It is clear in this passage that “the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation to them who believe.” The GIFT of salvation comes WHEN we believe not so that we can believe.