Acts 10-15 – Come Follow Me

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Does the Bible prove there are anachronisms in the Book of Mormon?

 

Acts 10 is another landmark chapter that brings in a very important part of Christian history – especially for the non-Jewish pagan Gentiles – the reception of the Good News.    .   Before this chapter, the Gospel was preached only to the Jews.  God had covenanted with the Nation of Israel and it was through them that the very Messiah would come, and the gospel would be offered to them first.   

Back in Acts chapter 9, we read that Peter wound up in a place called Joppa in the house of a man named Simon the Tanner.  Which now takes us to Acts 10:1-2 “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion (a Roman commander of 600 hundred men).  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.”  Cornelius was a believer in the One True God.  But he did not know Jesus.  Verses 3-4 “He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day (3:00 pm) 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 (meaning, what is it sir)?  And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”  Then the angel gives Cornelius instruction.  Verses 5-6 “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.”  So, Cornelius sent his servants to Joppa.  Verse 9 “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 (noon):”  While Peter was on the rooftop praying and waiting for lunch to cook – it says Verse 10 “And he (Peter) became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,”  Peter fell into a state of mind where he was absorbed in deep thought.  Verse 11 “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.”  This sheet – perhaps a large prayer shawl worn by men during religious devotionals – was a universal symbol of the nations and the animals of these nations upon the sheet represent the gentile world and the non-kosher animals eaten by gentiles.  Verse 12 “Wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.”  Peter was hungry and it could be that the Lord uses this moment to teach him a new way about eating which would break down the cultural barrier the Jews had between them and the rest of the world.  Verses 13-16 “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 hat cleasned, that call not thou common.’  This was done thrice (repeated three times): and the vessel was received up again into heaven.”  Now, to put this into perspective, the Law of Moses, reigning for some 1500 years over the Jews, was pretty darn clear regarding what could be eaten and what was not even to be touched.  You can read a little about it in Leviticus 11:1-8.  Peter was faced with a conflict between what was written in the Law and the verbal command of the Lord.  But, the purpose of this vision was to provide direction and meaning to what Peter would be asked to do the next day.  It was to teach Peter that what God called unclean could and would now be seen as clean – the Gentiles and everything about them.  That under the direction of the Spirit, what was written would no longer reign over the hearts of Man – God would (Hebrews 10:16; Hebrews 8:10-11; 2 Corinthians 3:2-3).  

Verse 19 “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, ‘Behold, three men seek thee.’  At that exact time, the men who Cornelius sent arrived at Simon’s house.  Verse 21 “Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with the, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”   Peter greeted the men – who said Cornelius had been told by a holy angel to bring Peter to his house so he could be taught the gospel.  When they and Peter traveled to Caesarea, they found Cornelius with his family and close friends waiting for them.  Verse 25 “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.”  It means he simply bowed himself down out of honor and respect.  Verse 26 “But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.”  Peter is stepping right out of his element – and into a gathering of people who his people, the Jews – called the “the Great Unwashed.”  Now listen carefully to what Peter says to Cornelius in Verse 28 “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.”  How do we look at other men and women?  Do we consider any person or groups of people unclean?  Think about it!  God showed Peter that NO man is to be called unclean.  How is that possible?  It’s possible because Christ paid for the sins of the entire world – past, present, and future.  That work has been done, once and for all.  He has had the victory.  And so, by believing on Christ’s work for us we receive His righteousness that is imputed on us.  That is why we should never look at someone who we think is unclean and condemn him or her.  That person’s sins are paid for too.  They just need to hear that Good News and accept the free gift of salvation.  Verse 34 “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” There were to be no more barriers to the availability of the gospel in people’s lives.  All barriers were being eliminated.  No more barriers between Jew and Gentile, male and female, bond and free.  All are equal – having full access to God.  Peter then teaches Cornelius and his household about the mission of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.  Verses 44 “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word.”  No hands were laid to bestow the “gift of the Holy Spirit.”  They were born-again when they received the gospel of grace into their hearts and minds.    

As we move into Acts chapter 11 there were strong feelings among Jewish believers who viewed Gentiles as second-class people.  As a result, there is a heated debate when Peter returns to Jerusalem about the fact that he has actually associated with the Gentile, Cornelius.  Peter had to convince the Saints that the Gospel was meant for Gentiles too.  So, it’s now time to bring Saul back into the picture.  At this point Barnabas does something that will change the course of Christianity forever.  Verse 25 “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus for to seek Saul.”  Tarsus was about 123 miles away.  Verse 26 “And when he (Barnabas) had found him (Saul), he brought him unto Antioch.  And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people.  And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”  Christian was a new name assigned to non-Jewish followers of Christ.  Before that, early Jewish church followers of Christ called themselves disciples, believers, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of the Firstborn, Church of the Thessalonians, and “those of the Way.”  The “Way” taken from Jesus’ statement that he is “the way, the truth, and the life.”  Those of “the Way.”  The term “Church” comes from the Greek word “Ekklesia” which means “a called-out assembly or congregation.”  It is a gathering of people called-out to follow Jesus.  “Christos” is a Greek way of saying “Messiah” which means “Anointed.”   So, as it says in Verse 26 “And the disciples were called Christians FIRST – in Antioch.” 

I want to ask, if you are familiar with the term “anachronism”?  Anachronism is referring to something that is out of its proper historical time or context – centuries apart.  There is an account in the Book of Mormon, Alma 46:15 that was written in 73 BC. calling believers “Christians.”  But remember the term “Christian” was first used here in Acts 11:26 – long after Christ’s ascension into heaven.  That would make the Book of Mormon reference an anachronism.  Another example of an anachronism is the use of the word “Church” found earlier in 1 Nephi 13:4 which was supposedly written around 600 BC.  Yet, the first time the word “Church” was ever used in the Bible was in Matthew 16:18, by Jesus.  The word “Church” in the Book of Mormon was taken from a Greek term which the Nephites in 600 BC would never have known since it had yet to be created centuries later.  It is an obvious indication that the Book of Mormon was written by Joseph Smith who used the New Testament to write his book.       

Acts chapter 12 starts out by telling us that James the Apostle, the brother of John, will be martyred.  He was killed by King Herod.  James will be the first of the apostles to be martyred.  Interesting that there was no coming together of the Apostles to call or appoint a replacement for James in the quorum of the twelve.  That was because God ordained it to be that way.  These eye-witnesses of the Savior’s life, death, and resurrection would be the foundation of the Church along with Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.  That foundation and cornerstone were never to be replaced, repaired, or restored.  The Gospel and the Church would be built upon the lives, teachings, and writings of those men.  Consequently, as each of the original Apostles died, they were never replaced by God or men – until Joseph Smith started doing it in his own church – 1800 years later. 

In Chapter 13, Paul – called Saul until verse 9 – is sent on his first of three missions.  Paul is a master teacher and will become known as the missionary to the Gentiles.  Except for a brief appearance in Chapter 15, Peter fades away from the scene as the rest of Acts revolves around Paul and his ministry.  Acts 13 through Acts 28 report the beginning of the expansion of teaching the gospel outside the Holy Land, starting in Antioch and eventually ending up in Rome.     

Chapter 14 is an action-packed chapter in which you feel the energy and determination of Paul, as he and Barnabas preach despite mounting opposition.  They will be declared gods by the people in one place, and Paul will be stoned and left for dead in another. 

 

Finally, in Chapter 15:6-11 Peter gives a speech that is one of the strongest defenses of salvation by grace through faith on Christ alone, contained in Scripture.  

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