If approached on the street by a stranger and asked, “How can I be accepted by God?” how would you respond? For many of us who have been raised in a Bible-believing, evangelical church, the answer may seem simple. But is it?
What if there were follow-up questions like, “Do you have to read your Bible? Do you have to pray? Do you have to attend church services? If so, must they be on Sunday? Do you have to believe the entire Bible? (Literal creation, a literal fish swallowing Jonah, virgin birth, etc). Can a female preacher be accepted by God? Can a person with same sex attraction be acceptable to God?”
And the list goes on . . .
Not so simple anymore, eh? Who is acceptable in God’s sight? The early church wrestled with this question as well. Join Pastor Nate McLaurin in Acts 10 as we see how amazed the Jews following Peter are when God pours out His Spirit and approval on the least likely candidates – a group of Gentiles!
1. In Acts 10:45 and 11:2, we find that the Jews have religious prejudices toward the Gentiles. In fact, they are amazed when God pours His Spirit out on “unclean” people. What are some ways we may attach God’s favor/acceptance of us to certain religious practices? What are some ways we distance ourselves from sinners who are “unclean” in an effort to “keep ourselves pure”? What are ways we may be tempted to distance ourselves from people who don’t practice Christianity the way we do?
2. Since God desires His gospel to advance to all people, what are some creative ways you or your Life Group can begin crossing cultural boundaries so the UNSTOPPABLE Gospel is not hindered by our social boundaries?
3. In Acts 10:36-43, what are some of the key elements of the good news Peter highlights for his audience? Are these elements part of our conversations with unbelievers? In 10:44, we see God pouring out His Spirit on unbelievers as they hear the gospel being preached. Do we trust God’s Spirit to accompany our evangelism? In what ways do we need to grow in our confidence/courage?
4. As humans, we tend to separate ourselves from one another over issues that should not divide us. Though the early church could have remained divided as Jew and Gentile, they were able to embrace one another as a result of observing the Spirit working among both groups. What are ways your Life Group can unify by identifying evidences of the Spirit in each other’s lives? In lives outside of your group? Possibly look at the comparison of the fruit of the flesh vs the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:16-26. See also 1 Co. 12:1-3 and 1 Jn 4:1-6 as other ways to determine when the Spirit is evident in a person’s life.