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God Saves Gentiles (Part 1)

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The God Directed Conversion Of Gentiles Ch. 10-11:18
IMPORTANT – while God had said Paul would preach to Gentiles, @ this point it has mostly been Jews and ½ Jews. This ch. is where all that changes.
What we learn in these two chapters is that the gospel is for everyone. No one is excluded.
When I was young my family took a trip every year. In the middle of summer, when it was nice and hot, we would pack up and drive to Patrick’s Point state park on the coast up north. All of us kids loved it. It was one of our favorite places. We knew all the fun things to do and the secret trails to follow. We got to have special “camp” meals and we had all kinds of fun traditions. As I have gotten older, and now have children of my own, I have realized something very important. For the parents, vacations are a lot of hard work! Just contemplating all that my mom and dad had to do to make these camping trips happen is exhausting! As a kid I never even considered all the preparation that went into our trip each year. All I knew was that I enjoyed the result. The gospel message is like that. Oftentimes all we see is the result, we don’t necessarily consider all the preparation that went into someone coming to Christ.
But before the gospel is preached, there needs to be preparation. That is what we are going to deal with this morning. We are going to learn how
God Readies The Hearts For Conversion 10:1-16
There are two people who are prepared in this passage. We are going to see the preparation of the recipient as well as the preparation of the preacher.
Two challenges.
God’s Preparation Of The Preacher vv. 9-16
Submit to God’s preparation.
Preach the gospel to every creature.
We have been created to preach the gospel.
This means that fulfillment, purpose, and meaning are tied to our proclamation of Jesus Christ.
With that in mind, lets look at God’s preparation of these men. Preparation is begun in this chapter with…

1. The Command To Cornelius vv. 1-8

God’s preparation of those involved in this new phase of Gospel preaching is just as different as the men themselves. Being a military man, Cornelius is commanded. Peter is dealt with differently as we will see. As this command to Cornelius is presented to us we are also given information about him. The first thing we find in the text is a description of…

a. Cornelius’ character vv. 1-2

READ v. 1.
This verse tells us three things about Cornelius.
He is in Caesarea. This is a coastal city, ? miles from Joppa (S).
He is a centurion. In charge of about 100 men.
He is part of the Italian Regiment. Men recruited in Italy.
All of this tells us that Cornelius is a leader of men. He is a man with authority, accustomed to giving commands.
Not only that, from what I have studied, the Italian Regiment was kind of like a 600 man special forces unit. These were elite fighters.
So the picture we get of Cornelius is of a man you don’t mess with. He’s a special forces captain who gets things done. But that isn’t the complete picture.
READ v. 2.
Wow! This hard core, special forces commando is also a devout follower of God. In these verse we learn four important things about Cornelius.
He is devout. This means he does his best to adhere to what God commands.
He fears God. He has a proper reverence and respect for God.
He gives generously. “Alms” – ἐλεημοσύνη (eleēmosynē) alms; charitable giving. Alms n. — the act of contributing money or goods to the poor; especially as flowing from a disposition to kindness and compassion. Noun (direct object), accusative, plural, feminine.
Alms – ἐλεημοσύνη (eleēmosynē)
His giving is directed towards those who are in need. He is compassionate and kind.
He prays always. This reveals something very significant. This elite fighting man knows how to be dependent on the Lord. He understands that true strength comes from having the right person fighting on your side! Challenging thought. Strength is not the ability to do it on your own.
Strength is the ability to admit your need and turn to Christ for help.
So now the picture is a little different. This is a hard core military man who loves the Lord! However, his knowledge is incomplete. This is revealed as we discover…

b. Cornelius’ commission vv. 3-6

READ v. 3
The ninth hour would have been 3pm. So, this isn’t a dream. It is a vision.
In the vision, the source of the commission is an angel. The word “angel” means messenger. That is exactly the role the angel fills here.
i. The source v. 3
This angel is sent by God. Cornelius, a military man, is about to receive an order from his commander.
The angel calls him by name. This indicates the personal nature of the command as well as the love and care of our God.
He knows us all by name! He commands us and calls us by name! I love this aspect of God. He is a personal God. He is not some cosmic force disassociated from our lives! He knows us by name. He calls us by name.
Having been called, Cornelius answers.
READ v. 4
There are several important points here.
The appearance of angels always inspires fear. We live in a culture where people are willing to believe in angels, but not God. If we were to really see an angel, we would shake in our boots! Cornelius is one tough dude! And he is terrified when this angel appears.
God hears our prayers and sees our deeds. Notice what the angel says. Cornelius’ prayers and alms have come up as a memorial before God. God knows about them and He is going to answer the prayers and bless Cornelius for his faithfulness.
This is a powerful thought. God hears everything we pray. Are we praying according to His will? God sees our deeds! He knows when we minister to others and meet their needs. He rewards faithfulness!
Cornelius has asked what he is to do, the angel has explained why he is there. Now he will give the command.
The command is given in two parts.
The first part is to find Peter.
READ v. 5
To tie us back into the message from last week. Why is Peter here? B/c of Tabitha dying in ch. 9. Here we see the sovereign hand of God in bringing Peter here and telling Cornelius where to find him. God has directed through the healing of Aeneas which led to the raising of Dorcas, which now places Peter right where God wants him to use the final key. There are seemingly unrelated events in our lives that we look back on and see the sovereign hand of God. The things He does and the places He leads us all have a purpose.
10:5-6 Why is Peter here? B/c of Tabitha dying in ch. 9. Here we see the sovereign hand of God in bringing Peter here and telling Cornelius where to find him.
The sovereign hand of God in the past ought to inspire greater trust in the present.
10:5-6 Why is Peter here? B/c of Tabitha dying in ch. 9. Here we see the sovereign hand of God in bringing Peter here and telling Cornelius where to find him.
Cornelius is in Caesarea which brings up an interesting question.
1. Find v. 5
Flip back with me to 8:40. Philip is already in Caesarea. Why doesn’t God use him? This goes back to what we discussed with Peter and the keys to the kingdom. Just a quick refresh. I believe that the “keys” given to Peter was the privilege of preaching the gospel and being the instrument of God to bring the Holy Spirit to each people group. Jews (), Samaritans (), Gentiles (). That is why God has Cornelius send for Peter.
The first part of the command is to find Peter. The second part is to follow Peter’s direction.
READ v. 6
We touched on this a little bit last week. Peter is staying with Simon the tanner. Tanners were often shunned because they were considered unclean. This was due to their work with dead bodies. God is already at work in Peter’s heart!
The key here is that Peter is going to tell Cornelius what to do.
God has some steps for Cornelius to take. When he does, he will receive guidance and direction.
So often, this is how God works with us. We want the whole plan laid out. God tells us to take the next step and keep taking the next step and He will guide us.
Each step is a step of faith. Will we take it?
Cornelius is a man of character. He has been given this commission by God to find and follow Peter. How will he respond? We find out as the next two verses describe…

c. Cornelius’ compliance vv. 7-8

READ v. 7
The first thing we learn about Cornelius’ compliance is that it was immediate.
The moment the angel leaves, Cornelius calls people. This is a soldier’s reaction. Notice he doesn’t tell the angel all about how he will obey. He just does it. He allows his actions to speak. This makes me think of a parable Jesus told. Turn to .
(p. 1138)
Matthew 21:28–31 NKJV
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.
We dare not be like these sons, saying words we do not mean. We need to be like Cornelius, acting in immediate obedience.
Notice that the soldier he calls is also a devout man. Cornelius was wise in surrounding himself with me who support him in more than just battle prowess.
Cornelius’ obedience is more than just immediate, however.
READ v. 8
His obedience is also complete.
ii. Complete v. 8
Cornelius displays the only possible response a soldier can have to the order of the commander.
In Paul refers to Epaphroditus as a fellow soldier. In he refers to Archippus in the same way. Turn to .
(p. 1367)
2 Timothy 2:3–4 NKJV
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Like Cornelius, we are soldiers. We have been called to endure, called to avoid the entanglements of this world that we may please our commander, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He has given us commands. Love one another, be kind to one another, forgive one another, preach the gospel to every creature, be an ambassador for Christ, abstain from fleshly desires that war against our souls!
Are we walking in obedience to these commands?
The example of Cornelius challenges us to have obedience that is immediate and complete.
He explains everything to his chosen men, and he sends them to Joppa (S).
God has prepared Cornelius, the recipient, for the proclamation of the gospel. Now He will prepare the preacher.
We find this in the next few verses with…

2. The Correction Of Peter vv. 9-16

Peter has a problem. His problem is deep seated, ingrained prejudice against Gentiles. Jew and Gentiles hated each other. But God is going to build His church from both groups. At this point in time you have Jews and half Jews we have trusted Christ. For Gentiles to be saved, someone has to cross the aisle. A Jew has to speak to a Gentile about Jesus.
What we must understand is that in the Jewish mind, the Gentiles have nothing to do with the Messiah. Though God had commanded the Israelites to be a light to the Gentile nations, this command has been all but forgotten. When Jesus was on this earth, the focus of the Jews was on being set free from the oppression of Rome. Their view of Gentiles is filtered through that lens.
With all of this in mind, it was unthinkable for a Jewish person that God would have any desire to save Gentiles. It is this mindset, this prejudice that God is changing here in this chapter. He begins with Peter. God is going to correct Peter’s thinking. We begin with…

a. The prelude to correction vv. 9-12

Correction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. God is preparing Peter to hear what He has to say. The first preparation for correction is Peter’s prayer in v. 9.
READ v. 9
i. Peter’s prayer v. 9
The men chosen by Cornelius have faithfully travelled to Joppa. They are close. There is a lesson here. When delegating, choose faithful people.
The 6th hour is 12 o’clock.
Peter goes up to pray (S). He is on the rooftop so that he can be alone. The way this is stated leads me to believe that this was Peter’s habit. He went onto the rooftop to pray. Do we have a regular time and place that we pray? It’s a good habit to have!
God is preparing Peter for this correction that is coming. One of the best ways we can prepare to be used by God is to pray.
Peter is in prayer, he is communing with God and therefore his heart is open and he is willing to listen. In addition to his prayer, preparation is occuring through Peter’s position in v. 10.
ii. Peter’s position v. 10
READ v. 10
Three things.
Peter is hungry. This is normal at 12 o’clock. I highlight this to demonstrate that Peter was just like anyone else. He got hungry. When we get hungry, we want to eat. This leads to the second thing.
They are preparing lunch. I think it is statements like this that help us be pulled into what is taking place. Peter is on the roof praying, it is lunch time, Peter is hungry, they are making food. Into this everyday, normal, domestic scene, steps God! This is vital. God is not just present in your life when you are at church, or in prayer, or reading your Bible.
God is present in the midst of the mundane normality of life!
If we are prepared as Peter is, God can and will speak to us in those moments!
Peter enters a trance. This word literally means amazement or astonishment. It is often used to describe a state where normal consciousness is suspended.
Peter is in prayer, he is open to the Lord’s leading. He is hungry. And now he is in a trance. In the description of this trance we find Peter’s perception in vv. 11-12.
iii. Peter’s perception vv. 11-12
READ v. 11
1. The container v. 11
This verse describes for us the container. Peter is in this trance and a big sheet comes down (S). I don’t believe there is any significance to the fact that it is a sheet. What is significant is where the sheet is coming from.
Notice that the sheet comes down from heaven and descends to the earth. This means that the sheet and what it contains is coming from the presence of God. This is very important as we consider the contents in the next verse.
READ v. 12
All of these animals are considered unclean. Now, they are not simply determined unclean by the Jews. These animals were specifically listed by God as things that shouldn’t be eaten. Creeping things = reptiles.
However, remember where they are coming from? The very presence of God! These unclean animals are coming down from heaven, to Peter.
God has set the stage. Everything is ready. Now comes…

b. The presentation for correction vv. 13-16

These verses teach us that God is big on object lessons. Throughout Jesus’ ministry He used illustrations to make His points. That is what God does here. He begins with a command.
READ v. 13
Peter knows who is speaking to him. However, what is being commanded is something Peter believed he must not do.
Tradition as well as command has Peter bound in chains he is not even aware of! God wants to introduce Peter to the age of grace.
Dispensationalism. The church age, which is what we are currently in, is characterized by grace. The age of Law, which came directly before, was characterized by a list of do’s and don’ts. What we have in this chapter is Peter being guided through a transition from law to grace.
God must confront our prejudice in this way. We must be made to see the chains that bind us! Peter needs proper instruction. Today, it is false teaching that so often leaves us in bondage. It is only through the proper exposition of God’s Word that we are set free from that bondage.
God’s command is answered by Peter’s protest.
READ v. 14
ii. Peter’s protest v. 14
When you really think about it, this is a hilarious combination of words. “Not so, Lord!” Certainly not, Master! That is what he is saying. When your master gives you a command, you don’t say no! Notice the sharp contrast between Peter’s response and that of Cornelius.
This is the kind of attitude that we must avoid. We want to be like Cornelius, immediately and completely obedient. Peter, on the other hand, immediately rejects what God has said. It is difficult to let go of tradition, even an unbiblical one.
Peter states that he has never eaten anything common or unclean.
Common - Something that does not meet the standard for use in God’s service.
Unclean - Something that has been corrupted.
After the voicing of Peter’s protest we find God’s clarification.
iii. God’s clarification v. 15
READ v. 15
Peter has told God no. God speaks again. This is a rebuke.
Peter. What I have cleansed, you cannot declare to be defiled.” This is a powerful statement that we will see the application of, next week.
What I want to do today, is apply this to you and me. In Paul describes what we as believers were before salvation. Then he says something very powerful. (S).
Peter. What I have cleansed, you cannot declare to be defiled.
1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
In this passage God declares that we are clean. He has cleansed us, washed us in the blood of the Lamb! Therefore, what God has cleansed, you and me, do not call it common!
As purchased possessions of the King of kings, you and I have infinite value and worth!
Regardless of age, race, or background. Those saved by God’s grace become His treasure.
Remember where the animals came from? Heaven.
We have received the new birth, we have been born from above. Be careful how you talk and think about what God has cleansed.
God has commanded, Peter has protested, God has clarified, now we are faced with Peter’s pride.
iv. Peter’s pride v. 16
READ v. 16
When someone wants to change the way we have always done things, we can be pretty hard-headed can’t we? I believe that is part of what is going on here. God has to repeat Himself because Peter isn’t getting it.
When it says “this was done three times”. The idea is that the entire sequence repeats itself. God commands, Peter protests, God clarifies.
Things for Peter seem to come in threes. Three denials. Three requests from Jesus, “do you love me?”. Three keys.
After the third time, the sheet returns to heaven.


What is going on in these verses?
God is making preparations for the Gentiles to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those preparations are being made through two men.
Cornelius is being prepared to receive the gospel.
Peter is being prepared to preach the gospel.
Right at this very moment in our lives and spheres of influence, God is doing this same thing.
There are people we know, people we rub shoulders with, that God is preparing to receive the gospel.
He is preparing us to preach it.
It may be that He needs to break through some prejudice, or tradition that is hindering you and me. Let Him.
I pray that we would be willing and able to preach the gospel to every creature.
No one is excluded. All are equally in need of the grace of God.
We are His instruments, called to carry the Word of life to all who will hear.
May we fulfill our calling.
#363 “More Love To Thee” (v. 2)
Acts 10:1–16 NKJV
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
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