I am excited to offer you a video Bible study of the Book of Acts, and I invite you to watch the video of “Being the Church” on Youtube OR Vimeo . . . for Vimeo, see the link in the Blogroll in the right column on my blog screen. Just as with my sermons, I’ll post notes to accompany each Bible study video.
Here is a thumbnail review of our most recent sessions (the whole review up to this point is on previous session notes):
From Acts 8 —
— Saul begins his efforts to destroy the church, causing most of the believers to be scattered. The Apostles remain in Jerusalem. Simon the magician tries to buy the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and is publicly rebuked by Peter, who is able to discern Simon’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit who has filled Peter.
— We see two works of the Spirit that we have not seen before in the Book of Acts: 1) hearing directly from the Spirit, and 2) being snatched away from Point A to Point B. The Spirit speaks to the Spirit-filled Philip, who has worked in many gifts, giving him a special and very specific assignment to go to a place where the Lord has a eunuch on his way back home from Jerusalem. Salvation, baptism and the Spirit are in God’s plan, and then Philip is snatched away to Azotus.
And from Acts 9 —
— Saul (whose Roman name is Paul), a Pharisee hunting down believers, is blinded, converted spectacularly, and then regains his sight and is filled with the Holy Spirit three days later. This is the Apostle Paul, who later writes 1/3 of the New Testament! He immediately begins proclaiming Jesus, and receives several death threats.
— Peter heals a man paralyzed and bedridden for eight years, and the man is immediately able to stand and to make his bed! And then he raises Tabitha/Dorcas from the dead. Many come to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of these signs and wonders!
Now, Session 19 — Acts 10:1-48
If I was going to preach this as a sermon, the title would be, “Everyone! Everyone!” Stick with me, and you’ll see why!
Verse 1-2 — We meet Cornelius, a Gentile (non-Jew) who is a centurion in charge of 600 Roman soldiers. Romans worshiped Caesar and other gods, but Cornelius was searching. How do I know that? By his actions.
He was devout (religious) and feared (was in awe of) God, with all his household (his servants and family). And he gave alms to help the Jews.
He even prayed to God continually, in his own way. Why? He had a deep reverence and respect for this God of the Jews. He sought God, and soon he would find that this verse is more true than He could possibly think or imagine —
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
But Cornelius was not saved, per Peter’s account in Acts 11 —
Acts 11:13 “And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; 14 and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’
Acts 11:17 “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”
So Cornelius, despite the fact that he was devout and religious and even gave money to help the Jews, was not saved.
Do you know that it is possible to be devout and religious and give money to the people of the church, and not be saved? But if you do these things with a heart that seeks God, your prayers will be found acceptable before God. And He will answer EVERYONE, EVERYONE, who seeks Him!
Salvation from God’s wrath comes through believing into Jesus Christ, and no other way. His is the only name by which we MUST be saved (Acts 4:12). If you are watching or listening today, I pray you will hear Jesus calling you out of your darkness and into His marvelous light!
Verses 3-6 — About 3 p.m. (a Jewish time of prayer that coincided with the evening sacrifice), Cornelius CLEARLY (openly and plainly) saw in a vision an angel of God who had just entered the place where Cornelius was praying. The angel spoke his name, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at the angel, and was afraid. He said, “What is it, Lord?” The angel was not the Lord Himself, but His messenger to Cornelius. But he called the angel “Lord” in reverence and awe.
“What is it, Lord?” said Cornelius.
The angel answered precisely!
— Cornelius’ prayers and alms were remembered by God.
— Therefore, he was to send men to Joppa to bring Simon (also called Peter), who was staying with Simon the tanner, who lived by the sea.
In Peter’s account in Acts 11:14, the angel also said to Cornelius, “He will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.”
Verses 7-8 — As soon as the angel left, Cornelius did exactly as the angel had directed. He explained everything to two of his servants and a devout soldier, who were some of his personal attendants, and thereby, his most trusted ones. Then he sent them to retrieve Peter.
Verses 9-17a — God knew the Spirit-filled Peter did not yet understand that salvation through Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit was for EVERYONE, EVERYONE, and not just the Jews.
But as Paul says —
Romans 15:8 For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision (Jews) on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,
9 AND for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
“Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles,
And I will sing to Your name.”
10 Again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him.”
12 Again Isaiah says,
“There shall come the root of Jesse,
And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles,
in Him shall the Gentiles hope.”
The Lord was about to show Peter that God calls EVERYONE, EVERYONE! Those who are not Jewish are just as welcome in His kingdom, if they repent and believe into Jesus Christ who calls EVERYONE, EVERYONE, out of their darkness and into His marvelous light (1Peter 2:9)!
How did He show Peter? He gave Peter a vision, as the men sent by Cornelius neared Joppa. Peter had gone up on the housetop at the sixth hour (noon) to pray, but he became hungry. He must have sent word, because a meal was then being prepared.
NOTE: Please do not be deceived. Christians are not to leave human beings in darkness, but we are to share the great Good News of Jesus Christ. It is not “intolerant” or “prejudiced” to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is life from the dead, and it is a command from Jesus Christ, who said then and says now —
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
So, the Lord sent Peter a vision. Peter fell into a trance, a time of wonderment, and was shown a vision. He saw heaven opened, and something like a sheet came down, lowered by four corners to the ground. In the sheet were unclean things which Peter was not to eat, according to Jewish law! But a voice from heaven said, “Get up, Peter! Kill and eat.”
Peter was repulsed, because these were unholy and unclean things, and said, “By no means, Lord.” He thought that was the right response.
But the voice from heaven said, “No longer consider unholy that which God has cleansed (purified).”
This vision was repeated three times, and then the sheet was taken up to heaven.
Peter was greatly perplexed, not understanding the meaning.
Do you see it? Devout and religious people of other faiths are not reconciled to God, nor are their hearts purified. But He will save EVERYONE, EVERYONE who comes to Jesus Christ, and then fill them with His Holy Spirit, so their hearts are made clean (pure)! EVERYONE, EVERYONE may be cleansed and filled and made holy!
Verses 17b-20 — And just after the vision, BEHOLD (pay attention!), the men sent by Cornelius appeared at the gate. God’s plan was in motion, and the men appeared at just the right time. He is an “on time” God! The men called out to see if Peter was staying there.
Peter was still on the rooftop, reflecting on the vision. What could it mean? Then the Spirit said to him (again, very precisely), “Behold (pay attention!), three men are looking for you. Get up, go down, and go with them, with NO MISGIVINGS. (without hesitation or doubt), for I have sent them Myself.”
Do you see it? Cornelius ordered them to find and bring Peter, but it was God Himself who sent that angel to Cornelius for HIS purpose! And what is His purpose? Salvation and sanctification (heart cleansing) for EVERYONE, EVERYONE!
Verses 21-23 — Peter went down, said he was the one they were looking for, and asked why they had come. They explained that Cornelius had been divinely directed by a holy angel to send for Peter, so they could hear words from Peter. This is in line with Acts 11:14!
Peter started to understand, because he readily invited these he had considered to be “unclean” into the house, and they stayed with him that night. The next day, he and some of the believers at Joppa got up and went with them. They would be witnesses of what the Lord was about to do!
Verses 24-27 — The next day, he entered Caesarea. Cornelius was waiting for them and called together his relatives and close friends.
Cornelius met Peter and fell down at Peter’s feet and worshiped him. Why? He was Roman, and Romans worshiped Caesar, a mere man, as a god. So, despite his reverence for the God of the Jews, he did what seemed right to him.
But Peter raised him up and said, “Stand up — I am just a man.” No human is worthy of worship, but the One who made us? He is worthy!
So as Peter talked to Cornelius, they entered the place where a large crowd was assembled.
Verses 28-29— Now Peter understood the vision! He told them it was unlawful for him to be with them, “And yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean (that is, any man whom the Lord has cleansed).” And the Lord was about to cleanse (purify the hearts of) these Gentiles! EVERYONE! EVERYONE!
That’s why he came without objections. And Peter asked for the reason Cornelius sent for him.
Verses 30-33 — Cornelius recounted the angelic visit, which happened at the very same hour (3 p.m.) as Peter now stood before them all.
He thanked Peter for his kindness (his moral rightness) to come. Then he invited Peter to speak whatever the Lord had commanded him to say.
Verses 34-35 — The Spirit-filled Peter opened his mouth. Again, this means God is about to speak through him. Now he fully understands.
Even today, God shows no partiality, but in EVERY nation, if you fear (revere) God and do what is right, and if you seek Him as Cornelius did, you are acceptable to Him. That is, He will hear your prayer, just as He did the prayers of Cornelius.
And He will answer by sending someone to speak the gospel of Jesus Christ to you, just as He answered Cornelius. Then, He will save you and surely, He will fill you with His Spirit.
Verses 36-43 — Peter began to deliver the gospel to Cornelius and his house:
— Peace with God comes through belief into Jesus Christ.
— Cornelius and his house knew what had happened throughout Judea, starting from Galilee, after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.
— Jesus Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good (God things!) and healing those who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him.
— Peter and the rest are witnesses of what He did. They (the Jews and the Romans) put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross, and that God raised Him up on the third day, and He was visible to them who had eaten and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
— Jesus Christ ordered them to preach to the people, and to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.
— The prophets prophesied of Jesus Christ, that through His name, through belief into Him, everyone who believes into Him receives forgiveness of sins.
PRAISE BREAK! Everyone! Everyone!
Verses 44-46a — But before Peter could continue, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening, and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit! The Jewish believers were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on Gentiles. But God was saying, This is My heart — EVERYONE! EVERYONE!
How did they know the Gentiles were being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit? It was because they heard them speaking with tongues and exalting God, at the moment they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, just as the 120 had done, when they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
And their hearts were purified, just as with the 120 in the upper room in Acts 2. Here is Peter’s testimony —
Acts 15:9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
Verses 45b-48 — Then Peter said, Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized in water, who have received the Holy Spirit! It did not happen in the order Peter had expected. But it was good and right in God’s sight, as Jesus said to John the Baptist when John said, You should be baptizing me!
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.
It was the same for Jeff and me. But afterwards, we, too, were baptized in water. It was good and right in God’s sight!
Peter understood that water baptism was the outward act of confirmation of salvation. These had not only been saved, but filled! So, because it was good and right before God, he ordered them all to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Afterwards, they asked Peter to stay on for a few days.
So, do you see that Christianity is not exclusive? Do you see that Christ came to bring the gifts of salvation and the infilling of the Holy Spirit not only to the Jews but also to ones like me, a Gentile who worshiped other gods, but had a heart that was seeking? EVERYONE! EVERYONE!
Praise His holy name!
Glory to God, the gospel of Jesus Christ is relevant for all time to everyone who lives on the planet!
If they will seek Him, they will find Him —
Acts 17:26 “ . . . and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 (so) that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children [offspring].’ 29 “Being then the children [offspring] of God [because He created us], we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
This is the gospel we must proclaim, beloved, and none other!