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The Spirit Poured Out on the Gentiles

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God's sovereign work in Cornelius and Peter

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Introduction

example of children who create a clubhouse or a hideout
only those who know the secret password are allowed access
can exclude anyone they don’t want to be a part of their special group
just as children do this so do adults
expressed in silent prejudice to all out war
unfortunately it is not uncommon for this to happen in the church
the temptation to exclude those deemed undesirable is strong
those who fail to support our opinions, boost our pride, feed our ego
those whose lifestyle is different than ours
those whose religion is different than ours
I am not talking about those things Christ commands us to separate over: false teaching, false doctrine, habitual sin
it grieves the Lord Jesus when we separate for lesser things
John 17:21 ESV
21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Paul’s description of the church
Galatians 3:28 ESV
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
the NT church had to overcome these same barriers if it was going to fulfill the great commission
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 ESV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
if the NT church was to do as Christ commanded, the cultural divisions and prejudices that separated the largely Jewish NT church from the Gentiles had to be overcome
the barrier between Jewish believers and Samaritans had been breached by Philip, Peter and John resulting in many coming to faith and being added to the church
a second, even more formidable barrier had yet to be overcome, bringing the gospel to the Gentiles
though the Jews despised the Samaritans their dislike of them paled in comparison to their hatred of the Gentiles
Jonah’s great displeasure over God’s having mercy on the Ninevites ()
strict Jews in the NT had nothing to do with Gentiles
they would not go as guests to their homes (v.28) nor would then invite them into their own homes
Jews would not eat food prepared by Gentiles
cooking utensils purchased from a Gentile had to be purified before using
when Jews travelled back to Israel from Gentile lands they would stop at the border and shake the dirt off their feet before entering
Peter’s words to Cornelius in 10:28
Acts 10:28 ESV
And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.
how unlawful = a very great sin!
reaction of Jewish believers when they heard that Peter had gone to Cornelius
Acts 11:2–3 ESV
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
Acts 11:2 ESV
So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying,
they didn’t get the memo that Peter got!
this attitude was a serious thing because Christ’s purpose for the church included those whom the Jews hated
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
according to the Apostle Paul, the foundation for the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church had been laid by Christ
Ephesians 2:14 ESV
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
as we come to ch 10 in our study of the book of Acts, we discover God’s sovereign intervention to open the doors of the church to the Gentiles
God’s chosen instrument to open that door was Peter
after Peter’s confession “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” Jesus said to him,
Matthew 16:18–19 ESV
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16:18–19 ESV
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Mt 16:18
Peter had already had a very effective and powerful preaching ministry
Mt 16:
Peter had already had a very effective and powerful preaching ministry
he had done battle with the highest authorities, the Jewish Sanhedrin
he had accepted the despised Samaritans as brothers in Christ and as equals in the church
at the end of chapter 9 we find Peter staying with a tanner, a trade despised by the Jews because it required handling the skins of dead animals
however, before Peter could take this drastic step of including the Gentiles in the church he needed God’s sovereign intervention
God gave the Roman centurion, Cornelius and the Jewish preacher, Peter visions in order to prepare them for their meeting and for what God was about to do in pouring out his Spirit on the Gentiles

God’s Preparation of Cornelius

we are told that Cornelius was based in Caesarea, the Roman capital of its province Judea
as it was the residence of the procurator there was a large Roman garrison there
stationed there was Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian cohort
Cornelius was more than likely an Italian, ie. he was not Jewish
he was not Jewish
“the Italian cohort”
a Roman legion consisted of 6000 men divided into 10 cohorts of 600 men each
legion divided into 10 cohorts of 600 men each
a centurion commanded 100 men
Centurions were natural leaders who had proven themselves steady in battle, would hold their ground in battle, would die at their posts rather than flee
Centurions were natural leaders who had proven themselves steady in battle, would hold their ground when attacked, would die at their posts
from this we learn that Cornelius was a man who had proven himself in battle as a man of courage, bravery and leadership
he was a strong, responsible and reliable leader
“a devout man who feared God”
like the Ethiopian eunuch he had come under the influence of Judaism and the knowledge of the One True God
devout = carefully read the OT and lived according to it
“who feared God”
there were 3 kinds of Gentiles:
1. Gentiles who knew nothing about God
were idolaters living in their sin
2. Gentiles who were proselytes
had embraced the God of Israel, had undergone the rite of circumcision and had become part of Israel
3. Gentiles who were God fearers
were not idolaters but had not undergone circumcision
we learn the following about what a God fearer looked like from the description of Cornelius
1. feared God with all his household
taught his household and ensured that biblical standards were observed
stats about families following after God when someone is saved
when a mother comes to Christ the family will join her at church 17% of the time (when a child comes to Christ it is lower)
when a father comes to Christ is 93%
churches focus on kids because it’s the easiest
2. gave alms generously
alms = benevolent activity towards the poor
generous = gave richly
showed abundant kindness and compassion to those who were in need
one of 3 critical activities which defined a pious Jew: prayer, fasting, almsgiving
Dorcas was known for her almsgiving
Jesus warned against the misuse in
giving for the praise of men
3. prayed continually to God
he wasn’t always talking to God
he had an attitude of dependence on God
Proverbs 3:5–6 ESV
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
conclusion: like the Ethiopian eunuch who made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem Cornelius was searching for answers
although he had achieved a position of respect, authority and influence, it was not enough to satisfy his desires
he also realized the religions of the Romans and the Greeks were empty and void of hope
like all people who are searching, their questions are the same
why am I here? what is my purpose? what happens when I die? I know there is a God but who is he and will he help me? does he care for me?
up to this point Cornelius thought that he had found the answers in Judaism
he saw something in Judaism that made sense to him and was wholeheartedly pursuing it

God’s Provision for Cornelius

although Cornelius was dead in his sins he was seeking after God
like all people who are searching their questions are the same
why am I here? what is my purpose? what happens when I die? I know there is a God but who is he and will he help me?
up to this point Cornelius thought that he had found some answers in Judaism
although he had achieved a position of respect and authority it was not enough to satisfy his desires
humanly speaking, of all the religions of the world, Judaism was about as close as he could get to God in his own strength
he realized the religious practices of the Romans and the Greeks were not the answer
however it was not enough to save him
ike all people who are searching their questions are the same
why am I here? what is my purpose? what happens when I die? I know there is a God but who is he and will he help me?
Cornelius saw in Judaism something that made sense to him and was pursuing it
up to this point Cornelius thought that he had found some answers in Judaism
the majority of Jews in Jesus’ day rejected him and his teaching
he saw something in Judaism that made sense to him and was pursuing it
remember that the majority of Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah so this was not Cornelius’
if Cornelius was to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, God had to sovereignly intervene
just as Jesus said to Nicodemus in his search that he had to be born again so also Cornelius
and Luke tells us of God’s sovereign, gracious intervention in Cornelius’ life
Acts 10:3 ESV
About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.”
compare to Jesus confronting Saul!
“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me!”
9th hour = one of the 3x/day when Jews gathered to pray
9th hour = 3pm = evening sacrifice
this was the time when Peter and John went up to pray and as they went healed the lame man (Acts 3)
according to v.30 Cornelius was praying at this time
he saw clearly in a vision
God opened his eyes to see what normally could not be seen
example of Elisha praying that his servant would see the armies of God when the Syrian army surrounded his city to capture him ()
Acts 10:4 ESV
And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
“angel of God … What is it Lord?”
who is this?
vv.19-20 - “the Spirit said … I have sent them”
this was either an angel who was an agent of the HS or it was the HS described in 2 different ways
Cornelius’ response: “he stared at him in terror” (v.4)
compare this to virtually all of the claims of the HS’s presence and visitations
glory cloud at Bethel Church in California
we know that’s a fake because if the HS actually appeared they would be on their faces
Moses, the most humble man in all the earth, was not permitted to look on God lest he die
the apostle John’s experience when he saw the risen Lord in
Revelation 1:17 ESV
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,
between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension to the right hand of God this was not so
Jesus appeared to those whom he had chosen to be his witnesses and it was a blessed and joyful experience
the message to Cornelius
Acts 10:4 ESV
And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
this is truly amazing!!
“Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.this is truly amazing!!
this is truly amazing!!
we are witnessing the work of the HS raising a dead sinner to life in Christ!
this process had begun quite some time before
God had been working in Cornelius drawing him to himself
how do we know this?
most Romans were content with their gods and their worship but not Cornelius
there were many, many devout Jews who were also praying, giving alms, doing everything they thought they had to do to earn or merit God’s favour
but whom does the Lord draw to himself?
Cornelius, a despised gentile and a hated Roman at that!
why Cornelius? was he special? was he more diligent and faithful? did he pray more? did he given more?
remember, he wasn’t even circumcised, he was not even a proselyte
what do the scriptures say about whom God chooses?
1 Corinthians 4:6–7 ESV
6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. 7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Romans 9:15–16 ESV
15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Romans 5:8–9 ESV
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
so we see in Cornelius God at work, drawing him to himself not because of anything in him but because it was God’s good pleasure to do so
now think for a moment about what God said to him
though the Lord was and is sovereign in the salvation of all persons
John 6:44 ESV
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
God says to Cornelius,
“Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
Acts 10:4 ESV
And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
this is the mystery of God’s sovereignty in salvation and human responsibility
“Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.
I have no idea how these two go together but I know that God is far smarter than me and I am content to rest in the fact that he knows what he is doing!
so, God is working in dead, blind, helpless Cornelius
as God works Cornelius prays, seeks after God, lives up to the light that he possesses and God responds by answering his prayers!
what an amazing mystery!
as we think about this amazing mystery I want us to turn our attention to those who are with us this morning, who have never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ
you have not yet been born again
the HS of adoption has not yet taken up residence in your life
are you hungering and thirsting for something more out of life?
have your experiences led you believe that there must be something better?
are you crying out to God for answers?
are you trying to live up to the knowledge that you have?
are you seeking for more?
Cornelius’ example teaches us: don’t give up! keep searching, praying, reading, coming to church
remember what the Lord has said in his word,
Proverbs 8:17 ESV
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
Isaiah 55:6 ESV
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
be encouraged in your seeking by remembering these things about God
Ezekiel 18:30–32 ESV
30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
Eze 18:30-32
Ezekiel 33:11 ESV
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?
Eze 33:11
finally keep in mind this great and wonderful promise
Romans 10:13 ESV
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
must do so in Spirit and in truth
in other words, must call according the methods and means the Lord has provided
Cornelius did it, so must you if you would be saved

God’s Proclamation to Cornelius

Acts 10:5–6 ESV
And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
God could have given Cornelius the way of salvation and enabled him to believe right then and there
why the instructions to go and find Peter?
God’s plan is to use people to accomplish his purposes
God also had a wider purpose of opening the minds and hearts of Jewish believers so that they would accept and embrace Gentiles as equal brothers and sister in Christ
Cornelius’ quick obedience:
Acts 10:7–8 ESV
When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
a devout soldier: another Gentile who was seeking after the Lord
perhaps influenced by Cornelius
when given direction from the Lord Cornelius did not delay in doing what he had been commanded
what is God commanding you to do?
read the scriptures?
seek him in prayer?
come to church to worship and hear his word preached?
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