Faithlife Sermons

A Brand New Vision

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Acts 10:1–8 NIV
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. 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.
Cornelius God fearing Gentile. This meant he was a believer in the God of Israel, he prayed, gave to the generously to the needy. He was also a Roman centurion, commander of 100 troops, in the Italian regiment which had the responsibility of keeping the peace in Judea. But he did not know the whole truth.
He sought God. He wanted a relationship with God, he was doing everything he knew to do, but the bottom line is he had faith, and God did something extraordinary so he could meet Jesus, and be made clean.
An angel appeared to Cornelius around 3 while he was praying. This was the traditional afternoon prayer time in the Jewish tradition. The angel says, “Cornelius,”
Interesting response by Cornelius here. “What is it Lord?”
The angel tells him the God has received his prayers and his gifts to the poor. Then he tells Cornelius to send men to Joppa, a little over a day’s journey south, and bring back Peter. He then gives him basically an address and then leaves.
Cornelius then does exactly what he was told. He does not argue! He does not question! He just does! You will notice this is not the response of Peter later on. But isn’t it true that if God is our Lord, then our answer has to be yes!

If God is Lord, the answer has to be yes!

I like the fact that he called in two servants and one of his believer soldiers. He tells them what happened and sent them to Joppa.
Could you imagine if you were those guys? What did you see? What do you want us to do? Are you nuts? An angel, really? This ought to be good! Well at least we get a couple days off and a trip to Joppa.
God is not only working in Caesarea, he is also workin in Joppa. Check this out.
Acts 10:9–23 NIV
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.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 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.
Peter has just done two of the most amazing miracles. God by the power of the Holy Spirit through Peter, made a paralytic walk and brought a woman back from the dead.
He had been there for a while, and people were believing in the Lord.
He was resting at Simon the tanner’s house. He goes us to pray. He got hungry, and God gave him a vision. A sheet full of animals comes down, and a voice tells Peter to kill and eat.
Now, check this out. Peter acknowledged it was God.
“Surely not Lord, I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
I think we can believe Peter, when he says he had never eaten anything unclean, because if he had ever had bacon before, he would have jumped into that sheet full force, but he did not.
But back to the story. Peter argues with the Lord. How can he say no, if he is his Lord? We know that is not the case. Why do you think this happened? Maybe a better question is If Jesus is our lord, then why do we argue with him?

If Jesus is Lord, why do we argue with him?

Maybe he thought God was testing him.
Maybe he wanted to prove he was righteous.
Maybe he thought he knew better.
Who knows, but the bottom line is he argued with God, not just once, but THREE times. Does that sound familiar? Isn’t that how many times he denied Jesus? Isn’t that how many times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him?
God responds simply, but do not underestimate the importance of this statement. God is casting a new vision for the same purpose he has always had.

“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean!”

We could spend the rest of our lives talking about this one command and it the effect it should have on our lives. But quickly here are some points:
God is in charge not us as to what is clean and unclean.
God can make anything Clean.
God is in control!
If someone has been saved by God, then they are made clean. We should treat them accordingly.
There is nothing that is going to stop God’s plan.
God wants all to be saved.
The point is that God makes things clean and our ultimate responsibility is to say yes to the Lord, not to question him.
The sheet gets taken back up. Peter missed out on his BLT, and he sits dumbfounded. Thinking, evaluating, letting it all sink in. What does all this mean?
I love that God does not get mad at Peter. He just lets him work it out, and Peter gets it.
Meanwhile the men made it to Joppa found Simon the tanner’s house, and they call out, “Is there some guy named Simon also known as Peter here?” Remember, they were not the ones given the message by God, they were just sent with a wild story and a wild order to bring him back. I bet they had their doubts.
Then back to the roof. The Holy Spirit tells Peter “Get up, go downstairs and do not hesitate to go with them because I have sent them.”
Peter does not argue with the Lord. He does exactly what he said.
Can you imagine the shock on the men when Simon called Peter came to the door? There is no way they could have truly expected that to happen, but it did. They had to be astonished. Isn’t that what we have been seeing throughout the book of Acts. God astonishes people.
Anyway they tell Peter about Cornelius, they rest for the night. Get up the next morning and start the journey.
Acts 10:23–29 NIV
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. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”
Now we are back in Caesarea. Cornelius is so sure that what the Lord said was true that he had gathered many people into his home to hear what Peter was going to say. Now talking about real faith. He was so sure God was going to do something, he called a bunch of people and said come over and listen to this guy. A guy he had never met. A guy an angel told him to go find and bring to his house. That is faith. Isn’t it. That is more than belief. This is a great illustration of the difference. Belief would have been, Ok I will send these guys and then we will see what happens. If it does not happen, only my servants will know.
Faith, he trusted God so much he risked embarrassment, ridicule, failure. He acted!

Faith is Action

Peter gets to the house, Cornelius falls on ground before Peter. When we see God do something amazing isn’t that our response. Complete worship. He probably had no idea what to do. Peter says get up, I am just a man.
Cornelius and Peter are talking as they walk into the house and Boom, there is a crowd. So, Peter talks about how God had changed his mind. He had opened his mind. Peter had seen the new vision.
He tells them the law says he cannot be here, but God says that he cannot call anyone unclean or impure. So, my Lord told me to come and I did.
Cornelius recounts the story of the angel to Peter, and why he sent the servants.
Then he says,”Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Acts 10:34–48 NIV
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. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 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.

God does not show favoritism

That is what this is all about. He accepts from every nation those who fear him and do what is right.
How applicable in the world today. God does not show favoritism. He accepts all who turn to him. Let that sink in.
ANYONE that God has made clean is clean. Do we live that? Do we put ourselves above others because they are different than us?
God doesn’t.
Jesus offers peace to us all. He is lord of all. He, filled with the Holy Spirit, he went around doing good and healing people. He was crucified on the cross for our sins, but God raised him from the dead. Peter witnessed this all. He was not the only one. He was commanded to preach and testify to this to all people. That everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Don’t you think this was a powerful realization for both Peter and Cornelius. EVERYONE. Jew or Gentile. Peter had preached that message, but he had not understood it before. EVERYONE. that believes in Jesus. EVERYONE.
While Peter is preaching this the Holy Spirit came down on them like Pentecost. Those that came with Peter were astonished (There is that word again) that Gentiles were receiving the holy spirit just like them. They had not experienced what Peter had experienced.
But God showed them the new vision too.
Peter Baptized them all in the name of Jesus, because now Peter truly understood. God’s vision that all be saved through Jesus.
Do you understand that vision?
Do you understand that God desires that all are saved?
That includes each and everyone of you. Are you willing to believe in Jesus?
Are you ready to share that message with EVERYONE?
Are you ready to let Jesus be your LORD?
What is holding you back?
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