April 2019   
Upcoming Events


Malawi Fundraiser
6:00 PM
Spaghetti and Pie Auction
Bible Search
Acts #37 (chapter 10:34-35)
The Book of Acts
The Salvation of the Gentiles, Part 3
Acts 10:34-35
We have been studying Acts chapter 10 and how God brought together Peter to the house of Cornelius in the very first recorded Gentile conversion.  And what we've been discovering is that what happened with Cornelius happens with all of us.  There is a process that brings us to salvation. 
For instance, first God sends both men messages through visions.  That is
1.  The Call 
He then sends servants of Cornelius to ask Peter to meet with him and Peter agrees to go.  And that is an illustration of
2.  The Will   
Peter is joined by other Jews when he goes to Cornelius and there, they finally meet.  When he arrives, Cornelius has gathered up lots of people to hear what Peter has to say, and they are all anxiously awaiting his sermon and that brings us to where we left off last week. Tonight we get to what is really the meat of the meeting and that is
3.  The Proclamation
No matter what the circumstances are that bring us into contact with a lost person, ultimately, we've got to share the gospel. 
So far in this story, we've seen lots of preliminary preparation and people making decisions about where to go and what to do. But it all elads up to what we read in
verse 36
Now notice, the message Peter has come to deliver is, first and foremost, a message of peace.  And we often lose sight of the fact that the message of the Gospel is a message of peace. 
We talk about forgiveness of sin and going to heaven and having a better life and all that, but very seldom if ever do we mention that man is living in rebellion against God.  In fact, Scripture identifies us as the enemies of God and tells us God has declared war on His enemies and only Christ can bring peace.  He is "our Peace".
So right off the bat, Peter talks about the message God sent which is peace through Jesus Christ.  Now think about what Peter has been witnessing and hearing that leads him to say that.  He's been down in Samaria preaching. 
He's stayed at the home of Simon the tanner, he's seen this vision of the clean and unclean animals and heard what God saw and presented through that, he's received the servants of Cornelius into the house where he's staying and lodged them there, and now he's at the home of a Roman centurion talking about the message of peace. 
I think he gets it!  He understands that God is doing a new thing that will bring men to peace with God and peace with each other through Jesus Christ.
We know that new thing to be the church. The testimony and message of the church is this message of peace.  And as we see in Peter's message, the proclamation of the Gospel is very simple.  In fact, in this case, it is only ten verses long.  It is verses 34 through 43, and it doesn't contain anything deep and complex.  It is really just a just simple, historical repetition of what has been going on. 
In fact, later on when Peter shares what happened with the Jews in Jerusalem, he says, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them."  That's what we read in
verse 44
In effect, God was saying, "Peter, if you'll shut up you'll find out these guys have already been saved!"
I'm sure he had a lot more to say.  Most preachers always do!  But these folks were saved before he ever gave the invitation!  And as Peter is still talking, the Spirit came and the Lord ended the meeting.
They were so ready.  And all that needed was a simple presentation of the Gospel.  And that's what Peter brought them.  
Now think about the process:  Cornelius has an interest in spiritual things.  He is searching for God. At the same time, God is at work in his life to prepare him for salvation.  He gets Peter ready by way of the vision, arranges all the details so he will know what he is supposed to do and he travels to the house of Cornelius. 
Everything was ready and in place, but God still required a willing messenger to share a simple gospel presentation with a willing receiver.  He still needed to hear the Gospel and respond in a faith commitment. 
So what did Peter say?
verse 34
Now I don't want to insult your intelligence with the obvious, but notice the first phrase. 
"Then Peter opened his mouth".  I would say if you're going to share the gospel, that's the best way to start.  Maybe in all our evangelism training we should say, "Begin by opening your mouth!"
Deeper than the obvious, this phrase, "opened his mouth", is a Greek phrase that lets us know what is about to be said is a very weighty, significant statement. 
After all, what Peter is about to say is going to shatter centuries of prejudice and hate and animosity and has the potential to bring lost humanity into right relationship with God and bring peace to men that have been at odds with each other for hundreds of years. 
So Peter "opened his mouth" and what comes out  rivets their attention to Jesus and what His death, burial and resurrection accomplished.
And I'll tell you what else strikes me about Peter's introduction.  There is no condescension or judgment.
He doesn't say, "We, the chosen people of God, have come to you out of the compassion and grace and mercy of our heart because we who are godly are so moved by your plight and lostness."
He just says, "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality."  God is no respecter of persons. The term "I perceive" is very interesting. It means he was coming to understand.  Peter is starting to comprehend, getting a mental grip on the fact that God's grace reaches everyone.
Now that is quite an admission for this old Jew!  But as he thinks back on the sheet let down from heaven and what's happened in Samaria and now with Cornelius, it's all becoming clear!  The fog is clearing away!
Now he should have already known that!  One of the misunderstandings both then and now about God's relationship with the Jews was that God liked them better than everybody else.  But that's not true! 
Deuteronomy 10:17, says, "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, Who shows no partiality."
God has never been a respecter of persons. God doesn't have any favorites. Goes doesn't elevate one nationality above another.  He is absolutely impartial.
And even though that truth has been around for a long, long time, Peter is just now beginning to awaken to it.
Then he adds this:
verse 35
In other words, it doesn't matter about your nationality or skin color or upbringing or blood line.  Now as amazing as it is to read that historically, imagine how Peter must have felt standing there saying it!
It must have been like the time when he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" and Jesus said, "You didn't come up with that by yourself!  You got that from God!'
This is another of those times when the knowledge and information is too wonderful, too heavenly, too amazing to have originated in Peter's mind!  This is the absolute opposite of everything he has been taught and learned all his life! And yet, here he opens up his mouth and delivers a word from God!
This is a brand new Peter!  His prejudices and racism are being torn down and it allows him to deliver this beautiful message of hope and peace!  God accepts anybody from any nation who fears Him and works righteousness."
There are two things to note in that message.  First, there is
- the right attitude
He accepts those who fear Him.  That means there is a reverence for God.
Second, there must be
- the right action
He accepts those who "work righteousness". 
Two things lead to a genuine conversion, the right attitude and the right action. James put it this way, "Faith without works is dead." There's got to be verification in the action that the attitude is legitimate. God expects that. God wants that.
The profession of faith is always expressed in a demonstration of works. 
Now think what good news that was for Cornelius.  Remember how he is described in verses 1 and 2?
verses 1-2
Here is a man who has the right attitude and the right action, but he is a Gentile.  He is not a Jew, not from Israel, not of the twelve tribes.  But Peter says, "None of that matters!  God accepts those who come with the right attitude and action, regardless of their nationality!"
All right, Cornelius did. He feared God and did religious things. But he was not yet saved. 
Notice what we saw in
Acts 10:6
"What you must do" is explained further in
Acts 11:14
So Peter has come for the express purpose of telling Cornelius how to be saved. 
So here is a man who has the right attitude and the right action and he is accepted by God.
So what does that mean, "accepted by God"?  Does that mean you earn your way to heaven by good deeds? No, it doesn't say God saved him. It said God accepted him for what he was. What was he? He was a man who had a right attitude and the right action.  He was searching for God.  He was responding to the light he had received, but he still wasn't saved. 
If he was saved, he wouldn't have needed Peter to come in and go through all of this Gospel. This is what he needed to hear. That God accepted him simply means that God regarded him with favor and has sent him more light. 
He's been living right and doing right and now, here stands Peter, delivering more light.   And next week, we'll see how Peter begins to share the gospel and before he finishes, Cornelius got saved.
There are a lot of Cornelius's out there, just waiting for someone to crack open the door and let the light in.  May God help us to be their messenger! 
Let's pray.
Post a Comment