“Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, ‘You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence” (Acts 11:1-3).
Peter did something that appeared to the apostles and other Jewish believers to be a blatant contradiction of the Torah (Lev 20:25–26), and most certainly against well-established Jewish customs (see Acts 10:28). If ever someone had an opportunity to justify his actions by saying, “God told me,” it was Peter (see Acts 10:20). Peter was not at all offended by the question, and did not simply wave the “Holy Spirit” card by saying, “God told me! That settles it!” Rather, Peter takes the time carefully explain and defend his actions with all the supporting evidence: his vision (11:4-10); the perfectly timed arrival of the messengers (11:11); the Spirit’s command to go without misgivings (11:12); the angel’s message to Cornelius to send for Peter (11:13-14); the Spirit-baptism of the Gentiles before Peter finished his sermon in the presence of six other Messianic Jewish witnesses (11:12, 15); and Jesus’ own word that Spirit baptism is greater than water baptism (11:16-17). Does God still speak to his people today? Of course he does! But because of the deceitfulness of the human heart (Jer 17:9), the devil’s ability to masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) and to misquote Scripture (Matt 4:6), and our own struggles sometimes to discern between the voice of God and our own personal feelings, we must follow Peter’s lead and joyfully accept the accountability that has to come with the claim that “God told me.” For if we don’t, we may find ourselves alienated from those who truly love us, and inadvertently accusing God for decisions sincerely made in violation of Scripture and according to our own flesh.
“And the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Cor 14:32-33).