What God Has Made Clean

July 29, 2007

Act 10:9-16
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

Act 10:34-35 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.

To Peter, it seemed impossible, unimaginable. Inconceivable! Would God accept uncircumcised Gentiles in to the church of Christ– men who did not follow the law of Moses? But it was evidently so. The Holy Spirit came upon these men in a startling way–not as a result of baptism (Acts 2:38) nor as a result of an apostle laying on hands (Acts 8:17-18) but spontaneously and unexpectedly, with no human intervention (as in Acts 2:2-4). It was just like at the beginning (Acts 11:15). Here, as on Pentecost, God was providing a sign endorsing the proceedings. In Acts 2, the sign demonstrated that the gospel message spoken by the apostles was from God. In Acts 10, the sign demonstrated that the gospel message was not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. In both cases, the sign enabled the Jews who were present to overcome their preconceived ideas so they could understand something that was totally new and unimaginable to their Jewish minds.

Like the Jews, we have preconceived ideas about who can be saved. And like the Jews, our ideas are often inaccurate. We tend to think that only people like ourselves can be saved. Especially, we think that only people who believe exactly as we do can be saved. Restoration Movement Christians have a long history of excluding people over issues like instrumental music, missionary societies, communion cups, the practice (or lack) of pre-baptism “counting the cost”, existence or absence of discipling relationships, or even the name on the sign outside the church building.

None of those issues is made a condition of salvation in scripture. There may be biblical truth on one side or the other of each issue. Some may be matters of indifference to God. But regardless, we are not authorized by scripture to draw lines of fellowship over such disagreements. On the contrary, we are prohibited from doing so:

Rom 14:4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

I do not think God appreciates it when we reject those whom he has accepted. We must not call anything impure which God has made clean.


  1. Hey, I just saw you on bobby’s blog, I just finished a paper on unity in the church. Would you like to read it, let me know.

  2. Sure, I’d love to see it. Just send it to me at the email address in my personal profile. It’s great to hear of others beating this drum.

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