Acts 10:9-14 On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.10 But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11 and he *saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.”
Introduction and review
Yesterday we began considering the ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers that is commonly called "illumination". We briefly defined it as the work He does in enabling believers to observe, interpret and apply the scriptures. We also considered an illustration of illumination as turning the lights on in a building to light the way for people. Then we finished up considering illumination's relationship to four other important teachings regarding the relationship between the Spirit, the scriptures and Christians: revelation, inspiration, canonization and preservation of the Biblical text. Today we continue further by seeing what the work of illumination looks like when it is in action.
The Apostle Peter and the Divine illumination of the Holy Spirit
The Book of Acts and the New testament Epistles fit like hand and glove when it comes to establishing doctrine and practice for the Christian life. The Acts of the Apostles give us flesh and bone examples of God's New Covenant revelation in Jesus Christ being put to practice. The New Testament Epistles (most of which were written in the same time frame recorded in Acts) provide much needed explanation and clarification of what is seen in Acts. With that said, we see in Acts 10 an amazing work of the Spirit in a man's life by the name of Cornelius.
Cornelius was a leader and commanding officer in the special Roman legion called "The Italian Band" (Acts 10:1). As was becoming more common in those days, Gentiles who were influenced by the teachings of Judaism and revelation of the Old Testament were called "God-fearers". Such people evidenced piety, appreciation and somewhat sympathy for the plight of the Jews - with Cornelius being a prime example of this group. No doubt He was devout in a piety and a religious man, but in terms of the Gospel still needing conversion. He is one of the two men we find featured in Acts 10. We could certainly spend more time on Cornelius' pre-conversion life as told in Acts 10:1-8, but our interest lies of course in the second man featured in this chapter - Peter.
Peter of course was an Apostle to the Jews and the lead spokeman of the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Much had occured in the 12-14 months since Pentecost. History and understanding of God's salvation had shifted from Old Covenant or Old Testament to a New Testament era. The cross, Christ's resurrection and Pentecost function as the Divine International date line so-to-speak. Much illumination from the Spirit of God was going to be required for men like Peter to make the shift. Seeing how the Spirit of God worked in his life to be ready for men such as Cornelius instructs us in better understanding the Spirit's work of illumination. Note the following key thoughts:
Illumination's Agent - The Holy Spirit. Acts 10:13,19,28.
Though we have already pointed this out, it is worth noting again how the Holy Spirit is the Divine agent of illumination. Acts 10:13 describes the Spirit as "a voice" directing Peter to get up, kill and eat the animals he is seeing in His vision. We know that this "voice" is the voice of the Spirit as seen in Acts 10:19 "While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you." Acts 10:28 further confirms this truth when Peter attributes the revealer and explainer of the vision as God Himself. When all taken together, God in the Person of the Holy Spirit is the Divine Agent of illumination. (compare 1 Corinthians 2:10-13)