Peter received a spiritual prompting that they were sent from God, and he, along with some companions, accompanied them back to Cornelius see v. The Christian companions that had accompanied Peter, who were of Jewish background, were astonished that the Holy Ghost was also poured out on the Gentiles see vv. Peter pointed out that since the Gentiles had received the witness of the Holy Ghost, what should preclude them from being baptized? At which point Peter commanded that they be baptized in the name of the Lord see vv. Peter also felt he could no longer call any man common or unclean see v.
Apparently this new attitude towards the Gentiles was resisted by some Jewish Christians, as some contended with Peter when he returned to Jerusalem and they found out about his dealings with the Gentiles see —3. Now they were being asked to extend the blessings of the gospel beyond lineal boundaries and focus on worthiness and the Spirit instead. But after Peter shared his vision and experience with them, emphasizing the manifestations of the Spirit among them, they were pacified see vv.
Yet this issue continued to hang over the early Church as they tried to understand the role of gentile converts vis-a-vis the house of Israel and Mosaic customs. Because of decades of Church policy and hypothetical reasoning for the priesthood ban, it was a difficult change for some members of the Church.
In Elder McConkie discussed the parallel between the inclusion of the gentiles and the lifting of the priesthood ban. He illustrated the difficulty the New Testament—era Church members must have had in reversing centuries of practice. They may have wondered if all men could come to Christ on an equal basis with the seed of Abraham despite the new revelation given to Peter from God.
Similarly, lifting the priesthood ban ended years of practice and highlighted the importance of current revelation today.
We have revelations that tell us that the gospel is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people before the second coming of the Son of Man. And we have revelations which recite that when the Lord comes, he will find those who speak every tongue and are members of every nation and kindred, who will be kings and priests, who will live and reign on earth with him a thousand years.
That means, as you know, that people from all nations will have the blessings of the house of the Lord before the Second Coming. We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years. Cannon or whosoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation.
The Book of Acts
We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them.
We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the gentiles. Modern revelation is the key to guiding the Church through new situations and changing dynamics. The current prophet is able to give us the counsel that we need today. Sometimes revelation will require changing our perspectives and leaving our comfort zones, but the blessings to us and the Church will certainly be worth our effort.
A key issue the early Christian Church faced in regards to new converts and policy was how much the Jewish customs and traditions that had been the background of the earliest Apostles and converts should persist. Since Jesus had followed the requirements of the law of Moses throughout His life, although He often disagreed with different Jewish groups about their interpretations or supplementary traditions, some early Christians felt that maintaining aspects of the law was necessary to properly follow Jesus and comply with the covenant.
These opposing viewpoints occasionally clashed and resulted in a council in Jerusalem around AD 50 to settle the matter Acts The Jerusalem council began with vigorous debate, after which Peter arose and reminded the group of Apostles and elders of the visions and experiences he had had concerning the Gentiles and the spiritual manifestations they demonstrated.
He encouraged the council not to put a yoke the law of Moses upon them that they would not be able to bear see v.
Finally James, the brother of Jesus and a key figure in the Jerusalem congregation of Christians, reiterated prophecies that declared that God would form a covenant people from among the Gentiles. He suggested that they not be bound to the law of Moses but instead keep a few requirements related to idolatrous food offerings, chastity, and improper meat slaughtering, which would have been common in gentile communities particularly as part of their pagan temple worship see vv.
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The council accepted this arrangement, and letters accompanied by two representatives from the council were sent out to congregations of primarily Gentile Saints, particularly the largest Gentile congregation in Antioch, Syria see vv. In addition, with the missionary efforts of the Apostles throughout the eastern Mediterranean, the Church membership eventually reflected a gentile majority.
What had begun as a small Jewish following in the Galilee started to stretch throughout the Roman Empire, eventually to become the imperial religion in the fourth century AD. Today Christianity is the largest religion of the world as it has been spread through conquest and missionary efforts into many parts of the globe.
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The Latter-day Saint Church has also faced many issues that have resulted in policy changes and official declarations sent out to Church membership to inform and educate the members about such changes. Two of the most notable examples are included in the Doctrine and Covenants: the manifesto regarding plural marriage and the extension of priesthood blessings to all worthy males. Like the early Christians after the Jerusalem Council, not all members of the Latter-day Saint Church have accepted these policy changes but rather have maintained the previous stand, sometimes to the point of forming their own Church organizations.
Yet with the principle of continuous revelation, we should be open to new direction as our leaders are inspired for our day. President Boyd K. In one sense the Church is still being organized. As light and knowledge are given, as prophecies are fulfilled and more intelligence is received, another step forward can be taken. For some, however, a new direction through revelation proves too difficult.
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They point to these as evidence that the leaders are not inspired. Changes in organization or procedures are a testimony that revelation is ongoing. While doctrines remain fixed, the methods or procedures do not. The doctrines will remain fixed, eternal; the organization, programs, and procedures will be altered as directed by Him whose church this is. A question that often arises among members of the Church is, what is the difference between a doctrine that does not change and a policy or practice that can change?
One example from the Church in the s was the ordinance of baptism for the dead. The doctrine or principle behind this ordinance is that vicarious work can be done for the deceased, and if the departed spirits accept the gospel in the spirit world, this ordinance can be effective for them. That doctrine or principle is unchanging. The practice or method of carrying out baptisms for the dead, however, has changed.
Thus once again a belief in modern revelation is the key to presenting additional information about doctrines, correcting improper practices, and changing policies and practices when necessary to reflect new situations. There was that conflict between the doctrine of the Church and Jewish culture. The long-standing cultural tradition persisted among many Jewish members for years, even after the doctrinal question was settled.
In like manner today, there may be questions on which the doctrinal foundation is clear but on which tradition or custom are so strong that the Brethren are impressed not to take a firmer stand, trusting, as did Church leaders in New Testament times, that if the basic revealed principles are known, the Holy Ghost will eventually lead the adherents to forsake their tradition, or academic popularity, or peer pressure in favor of the word of God.
The resolution of the problem reported in the book of Acts gives our present generation an informative model as to how both Church members and those of different faiths may react when revelation confronts tradition and long-standing custom. Only living prophets could correctly handle the situation then. Only living prophets can do so in our day. As of today, the Latter-day Saint Church has expanded far beyond its humble origins and its western home along the Rocky Mountains.
It has truly become a world religion with congregations and temples dotting the globe. This growth has of course produced new problems and issues, but the principle of current revelation helps adapt the administration and organization of the Church to meet its needs. The book of Acts provides many helpful examples of issues and stumbling blocks the early Apostles overcame as they worked to fulfill their commission to take the gospel to all the world. As they did so, they relied heavily on the Holy Spirit to not only strengthen themselves and make decisions but to manifest conversion in others.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland expressed this sentiment about the role of the Spirit in guiding the Church:. From the outset at least from the first verse of the book of Acts the declaration was that the Church would continue to be divinely led, not mortally led. And that was important for the people to hear in that terrible hour of confusion and fear. Christ was not only directing the actions of His Apostles through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit; He was also speaking through them by the same Spirit.
This is a lesson about the governance of the Church of Jesus Christ, both ancient and modern.
The Father and the Son direct this work still, having Their impact upon Church leaders, teachers, and individuals through the means of the Holy Ghost. And it is through that same instrumentality that we must have our impact upon those we teach. Modern Apostles today also rely on heavenly direction through the Holy Spirit to know how to lead the Church and how to administer such a rapidly growing and diverse membership in an orderly fashion.
In the process, new policies, procedures, and leadership positions have been implemented just as in the early Church. We can better understand some of the challenges facing the Apostles in Acts because of similar issues today, and hopefully we can gain strength and insights from their solutions as we support our Church leaders and fulfill our own roles in carrying the gospel throughout the world to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. Acts primarily relates the work of some of the early Apostles, focusing particularly on the leadership of Peter in the first part and the missionary efforts of Paul in the second part.
The book of Acts ends its account before the martyrdom of Paul around AD Robert L.
McLellin, — , ed. Peter delivers a sermon explaining the miracle. He says that the gift of tongues is given to prophets. Peter summarizes the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. He gives scriptural proof that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior whom God promises in the Old Testament to send to save Jews from their adversity. A man named Barnabas is particularly praised for his generosity, and a couple that defrauds the church is stricken dead.
Going to the temple to pray, Peter and John cure a crippled beggar. The Sadducee high priests of the temple, who do not believe in the resurrection of the dead, bring Peter and John before the Jewish high court, where Peter preaches the Gospel fearlessly.