“On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour, and he became very hungry and would have eaten, but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners and let down to the earth, wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice spake unto him again the second time, ‘What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.’ This was done thrice, and the vessel was received up again into heaven.” — Acts 10:9-16
Acts 10, a very powerful chapter of the Bible, shows the Gospel being shared for the first time with the gentiles.
Before this, the message had been shared with those of the Hebrew faith. Yet now, God’s grace and mercy are bestowed upon a gentile man and his household. Cornelius, a generous and praying man, was born again in the latter part of this chapter (Acts 10:44-48). But before that happened, God had speak to Peter. Peter was used to ministering inside his own cultural boundaries. God wanted to pour his Spirit out beyond the borders of any single culture. That is really what the vision was about. He saw this great sheet with all kinds of animals on it. These animals really represented people of different cultures, nations, languages, etc.
I feel this vision of the sheet was God trying to break into the mindset of the church, wanting them to understand that the cross and his blood are not for a few, but for many.
The ark was a type of the church, and it saved few. The tabernacle in the wilderness was a type of the church, and it saved few. Solomon’s temple was a type of the church, but it still had its limitations. Yet the vision of this “great sheet” was God’s way of showing Peter a church that was 1) without any walls and 2) without any cultural barriers.
In other words, he wanted Peter and the early church to understand he was tired of being boxed in, of only being spread in limited directions. The Bible speaks of the former rain and the latter rain. This sheet represented the beginning of a great outpouring of God’s Spirit when people put down their walls.
In 2015, “the latter rain” God still wants outside of the box. He wants the walls down so his message of hope can be shared with multitudes, not just a few. We don’t have a market on grace. God wants us to understand, in 2015, that he still wants a church without walls, with an open door for all to be able to get on this “great sheet.”
Our churches in 2015 should be open to the many and not the few. Our churches should not be limited by the language we speak, the culture we are from or our financial backgrounds. Our doors should be open to multicultural churches that show Christ to many! The church should be the one to lead the way in showing the world brotherly love among all nations, cultures, races and backgrounds.
Crutchfield is the pastor of Life United Pentecostal Church and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.