Acts of Faith: The Gospel comes to the Gentiles
What does it mean to be the sent people to God?
For the first seven chapters, which we have been looking at, we only see the gospel in Jerusalem and Judea, but because of the execution of Stephen and then the persecution that ensued, the great body of Christians in Jerusalem were scattered. As they went out, for the first time the church finally became a church in mission, which is what Jesus always wanted them to be.
The term mission, by the way, comes from the Latin word that means to be sent.
The word mission today is almost everywhere. Everybody has a mission statement.
Every organization has a mission statement. People create personal mission statements. But I think in English, originally, the word mission really belonged to the Christian church. So the question comes up …
What was the mission of the earliest church? Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, 2012-2013. New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.
Organic Mission - Notice that it says everyone was scattered with the exception of the top clergy! Everyone who were scattered were preaching the word!
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Who is the Gospel for?
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
Review of Caesarea
Show Map, a man made city constructed by Heared the Great with massive Roman aqueducts bringing fresh water to the city. This city became really the centre for Roman rule in Judea at the time .
16km for the aquiduct to travil from the base of MT Carmal a tunal build right into the mountin
Review the rank of Centurion
Roman Centurion was an officer typically holding rank over 80 men. However more senior Centurions would hold rank over a cohort , typically used as a garrison.
What does it mean to be devoted to God without being a Jew?
One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.
Having a clear vision...
Look at Cornelius’ response, it is immediate, he sends people the next day.
To follow this instruction was an act of faith and obedience.
So the group begin the trek down to Joppa…
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Peter was in a state of prayer. But notice how his state fo Hunger shaped his prayer life. What do most people dream about when they are hungry - food!
Galations 4:12 - We have freedom from the law. Christ has set us free to live New Lives in HIM
Pure vs Impure
Freedom from the law
Who’s job is it to claim something is clean or unclean?
We become extremely focused hyper fixated on we have to ready scripture this way, pray this way, sing songs this way.
While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.
Really it comes back to the heart. This was what Peter was beginning to be convicted of by the Holy Spirit. Truly convicted.
While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”
God’s leading and convictions were equipping him for this moment.
Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.
Cornelius was so excited about the message he had get to fully understand, he invited all of his friends and family.
Peter correctly points the Glory to God - He refuses to accept God’s praise
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
Peter expresses his realization that God will accept anybody of any race who reverences him and lives righteously!
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
Who is the Gospel for?
For those far from God or close to God.
The truth is the Gospel is for all who are willing and wanting Christ to be the Lord of their lives.