The Spirit Poured Out on the Gentiles, Part 3
Jesus to his disciples in Acts 1:8 and the Great Commission in Mt 28:19-20
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.”
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.”
the problem of Jewish Christians holding on to the regulations of the OC which separated them from the Gentiles
28 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.
2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
if the Great Commission was to be fulfilled the Jewish disciples had to bring the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth
for that to happen a heart change had to happen that only God could bring about
God came to Cornelius and Peter in subsequent visions
today we will consider the arrival of Cornelius’ men, Peter’s arrival at Cornelius’ house and his presentation of the gospel
he directed Cornelius to Peter and Peter to Cornelius, the Gentile to the Jew and the Jew to the Gentile
as Peter was thinking about the meaning of the vision the delegation from Cornelius arrived
God caused them to arrive at just the right time to shed some light on what was perplexing Peter! (God’s sovereignty at work!)
17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.
“behold” = Look!
a marker used to emphasize or call attention to something
Luke is pointing out an amazing detail
in the vision to Peter God had only given a piece of his puzzle
God is about to provide another piece with the arrival of the men from Cornelius
what we learn from this:
God is sovereignly working to bring Peter and Cornelius together in order to fulfill his purpose of breaking down the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:14)
God is also sovereignly working to bring the gospel to Cornelius so that he will believe and be saved
God is also sovereignly working to bring the Jewish church to embrace the Gentiles as fellow heirs
apart from God’s sovereign work Cornelius would have remained a “god fearer” on his way to hell, Peter would have continued to maintain his separation from the Gentiles and the Jewish church would have continued to restrict access to the church to those Gentiles who adopted the ceremonial laws of the OC
19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”
“behold” = pay attention!
Spirit is about to provide the practical application of the vision!
Peter was not to ignore these Gentile men as common or unclean but instead go with them
we learn from this:
as Peter waited and prayed, the Lord began to make things clear!
God did not tell Peter all that he was doing but revealed to him a small part
this required a step of faith not knowing the outcome
God often requires us to take steps of faith and as he guides our steps and provides light or direction to our path
as we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), letting the word of God dwell richly in us (Col 3:16), he guides our steps providing a light to our path (Ps 119:105)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.
the men answered Peter but note how they identified who sent them
name, profession, character and reputation
in their estimation Cornelius was worthy of God’s attention
the fact is that nothing we do is worthy of God’s favour
apart from God we all stand before him as rebellious enemies
in that state even the best things we do simply earn us more of God’s judgment!
in God’s eyes everything we do while refusing to submit to the Lordship of Christ is as filthy rags to God!
Peter obeyed the Lord by welcoming the men as his guests, even the hated Roman soldier!
the work of God in his heart had started to break his Jewish prejudice
guests: used in Heb 13:2 where it speaks of entertaining angels
Peter honoured the men, ministered to their needs, provided a safe place for them to spend the night
the bible repeatedly remind us that obedience always accompanies true faith (Mt 7:21-23; 21:28-32; Lk 9:23, 57-62; Jn 8:31-32; 14:15,21,23; 15:10,14; Acts 6:7; Rom 1:5; 16:26; James 2:14-26; 1Jn 2:3-4)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Peter welcomed the men, invited them to stay overnight and treated them as special guests
the very next day, he went with them to see Cornelius
when you are presented with the truth of scripture and it goes against what you have believed or you struggle to understand, are you quick to obey?
example of Abraham
“he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness”
when God commanded him to sacrifice of Isaac he quickly obeyed
his faith was demonstrated in his works
when Peter arrived Cornelius bowed before him and worshipped him
24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”
Peter rightly rejected any kind of worship or adulation as belonging only to the Lord
example of Paul & Barnabas being called gods in Acts 14:11-15
example of John before the angel in Rev 22:8-9
worship belongs to God and to him alone
Jesus’ answer to Satan’s 2nd temptation in the wilderness
8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ”
although Jesus was addressing Satan he was expressing a truth that applies to all created beings
to worship anything or anyone other than God is a sin which will damn you
a warning to those who pray to Mary and worship saints
a warning to all the world religions which take from God some or all of the worship that is due him
a warning to Christians who are easily tempted to put their favourite musicians and preachers/teachers on a pedestal
God’s own testimony
8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),
Baptist Catechism (http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/keachcat.htm)
Q. 2. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. (1 Cor. 10:31; Psalm 73:25-26)
God created humankind to worship and serve him alone
sin separated man from God and made him a worshipper of himself and created things
5 Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.
even as believers we are tempted to give to men what only belongs to God
this is part of what it means to be pressed into the world’s mould
example: Jesus said this to his disciples in Mt 23:8-12
8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
calling me or Thomas “pastor” is a violation of this command
if we are going to use titles better to call me “brother”
Peter asked Cornelius the reason for summoning him
27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 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. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” 30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’
in v.21 Peter asked Cornelius’ men why they had come to him
had already told him in v.22
Peter asked the same question again in v.29
Cornelius responded with the same message! (vv.30-33)
in both cases Peter was told that an angel had directed Cornelius to send for him
we learn from this that Peter was truly astonished that God would direct him through a Gentile!
reveals Peter’s deep perplexity about the fact that what had separated the Jews from the Gentiles for 1000s of years appeared to be passing away!
must not forget that the ceremonial and civil laws were literally written on his mind and heart
it was not uncommon for Jewish boys to memorize the Torah, the first 5 books of the bible, before they were twelve
much of what was written in those books was fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ in his perfect life, substitutionary atonement and resurrection
the OC had been fulfilled in a way that Israel had never be able to do
letting go was a great challenge but one that Peter was willing to face
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Peter finally accepted the reality that through the death and resurrection of Christ, God had removed everything that had separated the Jews from the Gentiles
before Christ only those who converted to Judaism were numbered with God’s people
when Christ died and rose again the OC was replaced with the NC
the NC was/is made with all who fear God and live to please him
Cornelius an example
this is the answer to those who believe God is unjust to condemn to hell those who have no access to the gospel
according to Rom 1:19-20 God has revealed enough of himself in creation that all persons can see and cry out to Him
God’s promise is that he will hear and answer those cries
this is what is meant when it says that God is not willing that any should perish
this does apply to every single individual but to those who are truly searching and willing to humble themselves before him
if God was not willing that no individual should perish, then every individual would be saved, for no one can resist the will of God!
Peter’s simple presentation:
36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
having understood that access to God was now open to all people of all nations Peter presented the gospel to Cornelius and those present with him
the simple Gospel:
good news of peace through Jesus Christ
he is Lord of all
Jesus’ earthly ministry
Jesus’ death and resurrection
Jesus command to preach and testify that Jesus is appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead
all who believe in Jesus receive forgiveness of sins
44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
HS fell on them … speaking in tongues … hearing them extolling God
the same gift given to the disciples at Pentecost
known languages not gibberish
the sign from God that the way was open to the Gentiles
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.
through God’s sovereign intervention Peter went and made disciples of the Gentile Cornelius and those with him who were given grace to believe and repent
then those who believed were baptized
then those who were baptized requested that Peter stay with them for a number of days
we’re not told how long Peter stayed or what he did while he was with them
we can be sure that they were spent on the last part of the Great Commission:
teaching Cornelius and those with him the commands of Christ
it’s why we gather together on Sunday mornings and in our GG meetings
our purpose in these corporate gatherings is to learn to observe all that Christ has commanded
the desire to learn and grow in Christ is a mark of a genuine believer
having been in-dwelt by the Spirit of truth Cornelius and his friends immediately began to hunger and thirst for the truth
having been made joint heirs with Christ they wanted to learn as much about Jesus as possible
they hungered for the word of God
this is a mark of all genuine believers, the hunger and thirst for Jesus’ voice
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
if you claim to be a believer but can go from Sunday to Sunday without opening your bible there is something seriously wrong with you!