Components of Salvation - Part II
The book of Acts is filled with conversion accounts and we are in the middle of a conversion account now in Acts 10. This is the turning pointing of the book of Acts and it is the revealing of something that is unique to the church age, the fact that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. The message of Salvation is not just for the Isrealites but is for the world, Jew and Gentile alike. Luke provides a foreshadow to this in Acts 8 when Philip went to the Ethiopian eunuch, who was also a Gentile and a God fearer. Now in Acts 10 we find ourselves in the company of Cornelius who is a follower of the God of Israel and because of his obedience to the God of Israel his entire family is also a follower of Israel. These people are of the uncircumcision they are not members of God's covenant people who are marked or should I say set apart by the sign of circumcision. This is important in what we are looking at this morning because of what God is doing in bring about Salvation not only for the Israelite people but for the world. Here is the thing about Salvation it is something people know they need and are searching for it. Even today people search for Salvation, this is something that has been ingrained in us. The problem because of sin people pursue the lies of the world instead of pursuing the God of the Bible.
Cornelius knew who to pursue and through his and Peter's encounter we learn what are the components to Salvation. We began last week by looking at the first three, the first component to Salvation is pursuing. It is very rare people just become redeemed, of saved. It doesn't just happen in a vacuum, God is at work and opening the eyes of the one God is calling to Himself. When He does this the one who's heart God is working on God is drawing that person to Himself and the person begins to pursue. A means as we discussed last week of doing this is the Law of God. God's Law was designed for the purpose of God's people behaving differently then the rest. God had called them and they were to be separated from the rest of the world. The visible means of this separation came from the sign of the covenant, circumcision, and through the dietary, civil and ceremonial laws found in Leviticus. By obeying these laws they demonstrated to the rest of the World they were different but they also demonstrated to the World the God they believe in and trust is also different. Their practicing the law was to be a pursuit of the Holy One and knowing that they can never keep this law perfectly it should have driven them to look for the Messiah the One who can keep the law perfectly, who is Jesus Christ. This is the first component, pursuing, Cornelius was pursuing God, the Holy One.
Next component we find in Peter, and it is his acknowledging God's work. Peter being the loyal Hebrew, loyal to God, Jesus Christ the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit and loyal to the Law, especially the dietary portion of the law and intermingling with the uncircumcised gentiles. Peter has this ingrained in his being and God knows that Peter is this way and so God wants Peter to acknowledge that God is doing something amazing and different. God is the One who dictates who is clean and who is unclean, He is the One who calls out and separates people to Himself out of the common world. This is what God was pointing to all along through the law, God was pointing to Grace and Peter has experienced it and now God wants Peter to acknowledge that in the same way he recieved what he didn't deserve now Peter needs to go to those he believes do not deserve it so that they can hear it and acknowledge it themselves.
The third component we examined is the product of pursuing holiness and acknowledging holiness and the product is obedience. God has called Peter to be His mouthpiece to bring the gospel to the gentiles and the gentiles are at that very moment knocking on the door. God has to tell him specifically to go with them without hesitation or struggle. This is obedience, this is the product of Holiness. Doing what is out of the ordinary for you so that God's message can be heard. Going to those you think don't deserve the gospel and giving them the gospel. At the same time in order to receive salvation you have to obey God's call to seek a messenger of the gospel.
Now we move from these first three components to the next three components and we will see that they build on one another. Pursing leads to acknowledging which leads to obedience and the obedience is manifested in Believing.
Six Components to Salvation
Six Components to Salvation
So let's pick up in Acts 10:23 and we will take it a section at a time so let's just go down to verse 29,
As we look at verse 23 we find that Peter invites those who came to find him into the house were he was staying. Peter showed them hospitality, demonstrating that he himself trusted God and believed God was doing something grand. So after showing them Jewish hospitality on the next day Peter rose up with them and they set off to Caesarea to go and ask Cornelius why he was being summoned. Verse 24 Luke tells us that Cornelius was waiting for them and he wasn't alone but he called together his relatives and close friends. Cornelius trusted the angel that God was going to send Peter. How Cornelius knew Peter would arrive that day is not told in Scripture, it could be that one of the group ran ahead and let Cornelius know but even if that were true how much farther ahead could the guy have gotten and how fast would he have to run in order for him to get there early enough for Cornelius to have time to round up his family. It could have been that the angel gave him a specific time which wasn't recorded. That is possible. Or it could have been that from the moment Cornelius sent the three to call Peter back that he gathered his family to sit and wait together at his house to hear the message Peter was going to bring. These people believed in God and this belief means they trusted God's messenger, the angel, and awaited for a divine message from a human agent.
Cornelius' family is very devout and I can just picture the whole family together in prayer as they waited on Peter. This was not just Cornelius' wife and children that were waiting on Peter. Cornelius' devotion to God and his pursuit of God has lead his immediate family and his extended family to pursue God also. This means even his servants, servants in this time period were almost like family. Notice also who had the influence in the family being devoted to God. It was the head of the family, he is the one God sent a message to and he is the one who Peter seeks out. The head of the family is crucial in the reception of the gospel message. They are crucial in the pursuit, acknowledgement and obedience of God's call. They are also important in believing or trusting in God's work.
Peter comes in tot he house and Cornelius is so overjoyed and so excited to meet this messenger from God and to hear this divine message that he bows down to worship Peter. Now I want you to keep in mind Cornelius is a Centurion, he is a commander in the Roman army. When someone greater then him is before him, such as a governor or king, he bows down. He is recognising that Peter is coming with a great and powerful message and he is humbling himself before Peter because of this. So this is humility and also Cornelius has been pursuing holiness for so long and waiting for four days for Peter, now he gets lost in the moment and when Peter enters Cornelius bows to him. This is what Cornelius' belief did for him, it equated the messenger with the source of the message, instead of likening the messenger as just the instrument.
Peter makes it very clear he is no better then Cornelius, he is only a man. This is kind of funny because he tells Cornelius not to worship him he is just a man and then in verse 28 after he notices the house is filled with Gentiles hes says this, "And he said to them, "You yourselves know hos unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. 29 That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me." Peter is realizing that God is putting all of man on the same level field. We are all fall short of the glory of God, all mankind does. No one is better then the other. We are all sinners condemned because of our sin. God is separated from us because of sin and we are common, unholy because we can not come into the presence of God. God called the people of Isreal to be His people, His chosen nation. They were called to be holy and they were given the sign of being God's covenant people and the sign is circumcision. This was a symbol of those who brought into the nation of Isreal and who would be heirs to the promise. Anyone who didn't have this done didn't have the symbol and was not considered a true heir of promise. Cornelius and his family were of the uncircumcision, they also didn't follow the dietary laws which made Peter coming into the house ceremonially unclean which means he can't worship God in the temple without going through the cleansing ritual prescribed in the law. He is beginning to realize believing in the Salvation brought about by Jesus means believing in the cleansing Jesus provides on the cross.
Believing in Salvation means you trust God and take God at His word. You trust who He is, and why He has sent Jesus to die and be buried and resurrected and ascended. You believe He is the only one worthy of worship and the only One who is Holy and you are not and you believe the only way to come into His Holy Presence is by acknowledging your sinfulness and your commonality, your unholiness.
We can't come to God and come into His Holy Presence without Jesus. Peter says this in 1 Peter 3:18;
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
Listen to what Paul tells Timothy in the opening of Paul's second letter to Timothy about trusting in the message God brings.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Believing is synonomous with trusting and faith. Having faith in God, is believing God and His promises and trusting God that He will bring them to fruition.
Now if you believe God and you believe God has the power to save and to make you holy and bring you into His presence then there is a fifth component, listening.
Peter asks Cornelius in verse 29 why he sent for him. So Cornelius answers Peter in verses 30-33; "Cornelius said, "Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before my in shining garments, and he said, "Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.' So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord." Cornelius reports to Peter exactly what happened. Notice the details in the account. First the detail of the angel. "A man stood before me in shining garments." This is a being that is radiating with the glow of the Glory of God. A being that has stood in His presence. Peter has seen this glow himself when he stood on the mount of transfiguration and witnessed Jesus garments turn bright white, and Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Him. Peter is familiar with this kind of scene and what it means.
The second details is the fact that God has taken notice of Cornelius and his devotion to the Almighty. What is important about this detail is not Cornelius' works but Cornelius' heart. That is what God looks on is the heart and Cornelius' intention was only to trust God. God pays attention to this. It is actually more then God just pay attention to Cornelius it is God calling Cornelius. Cornelius as we said last week is pursuing God and God is showing him his pursuit is over. This is important for Peter to hear too. Peter needs to hear that God has sent a messenger and that God doesn't turn His ear away from those who are pursuing His Holy Presence. This is a big deal to someone who has followed the Law and considered the uncircumcised unclean. If God can go to him so can Peter.
The third detail is the directions the angel provided. 'Send to Joppa, invite Simon, who is also called Peter, in the house of Simon the tanner by the sea." This is pretty detailed instruction. Peter needed to hear these instruction because by hearing the instruction it furnishes proof the servants finding Peter were not just showing up by happenstance. I get that Peter received the vision from God to go with the men but hearing the details from Cornelius corroborated for Peter God was doing something amazing.
Cornelius didn't delay but sent for Peter immediately, which almost goes without saying who would sit and ponder on a message brought about by a man in shiny garments. I think even the laziest person in the world would have sent for Peter. The reason because very obvious, "Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.' They have gathered together with anticipation to hear what God has to say. If God has told Cornelius Peter has a message they want to know what it is. Their ears are perked and ready to listen. Listening is so a crucial element to the Salvation process. We are not born physically into God's kingdom. We are born sinners. We are born hostile to God.
Paul says this in Romans about being hostile toward God;
5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
James in the same way says this;
4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
And John has a warning that is very similar;
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
Listen this is our natural state when we are born, we are born enemies. The only way we can know this is if we listen to what God has to say about our relationship to Him. We need to have ears to hear what God has to tell us.
Jesus says Himself;
22 “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,
Jesus also repeats the phrase "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." He does this numerous times throughout each of the gospels and even in revelation when He is proclaiming the message to the seven churches. Listening is the only way we can receive the message of Salvation, it is the only way we can receive the seal of the Holy Spirit it is the only way we can receive faith.
Paul makes it very clear in Romans;
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
This is the only way people receive the message of the gospel, it is only by listening hearing the truth of the gospel through the Word of God.