“While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.” (Acts 10:44)
I do not know, and I am hesitant to guess how Peter and those with him knew that the Holy Spirit had come upon those gathered at Cornelius the centurion’s house.
“The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God.” (Verses 45 – 46a)
I know, beloved reader, the writer of Acts tells us what the proofs were. But these occurrences are both obscure and extraordinary. At least to our (my) modern understanding. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are diverse, and do not necessarily align with highly visible manifestations.
“Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Verse 46b – 47)
Maybe in the times of the early church this was the marker of those imbued with the Spirit of the Divine. Or maybe, beloved reader, these markers were given so that the apostles would have something absolute to judge who were genuine converts. Not that the gift was essential to a life of faith, but essential for those looking on.
“So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.” (Verse 48)
How do we judge who is of authentic Christian faith? How should judge? Or should we judge at all? There is a lot of conversation in the denomination that I belong to about what makes authentic believers of that denomination. And, there is wider conversation about what makes authentic Christians. It would be nice, I think, to have some tangible marker or sign. Of course . . . . perhaps . . . . . it is too “mundane” to look at the way people act, and how they respond and interact with others. Whether they are accepting of all others, or whether there is restrictions on their compassion. The Spirit reminds me though, I should not judge others.
In the early church, faith spread quickly. And under the growing persecution, the faithful moved to places where they had freedom to worship as the Spirit called them. It is ironic, is it not beloved reader, that freedom to worship has been the motivator for so much discovery of “new” lands, and the subjugation of those who already lived there. Be wary, very wary, how you faith manifests itself. May it be as open and harmless as talking in tongues and extolling the Divine! Shalom & Selah!