After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the Good News and become believers. And God who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith He has made no distinction between them and us.” Acts 15:7-9
The Apostles and the Early Church teach us that our unity in the Holy Spirit’s anointing causes us to turn together in prayer and supplication in order to understand what God wants. Here in the controversy and debate over whether or not Gentiles should be circumcised they find Holy Spirit is undoubtedly clear. Now is the New Covenant (Luke 22:20).
The Apostles and elders step forward in a unified understanding of what Holy Spirit is telling them. Peter is first to openly speak. Peter says that he is God’s man to the Gentiles and the Holy Spirit’s action of cleansing hearts, of salvation by grace of Lord Jesus, they witnessed in Gentile conversions. Peter cautions that the Church is not to put God to the test by a human religious requirement of circumcision. (Ref. Acts 5)
Peter’s words are met with silence in the assembly. The Peace of Jesus falls on those gathered as they inwardly repent of putting God to the test. God has welcomed and loved the Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit. God has purified Gentiles hearts by the Holy Spirit. So faith in Jesus Christ is the benchmark* and with faith the Holy Spirit is given simultaneously.
*the basis, the gauge, the criteria