Acts 10:1-8 - God Is At Work
Welcome to our Bible Study today. We are studying "Spiritual Apps from Acts." We are applying what the Book of Acts says to our lives. Today, I am speaking from Acts 10:1-8, and the title of my messages is "God is at Work."
Before Jesus ascended, He proclaimed in that the disciples were to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the remotest part of the world. Clearly, the offer of salvation would be extended over time to the Gentiles. The breakthrough among the Gentiles came when Peter went to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. The story of breaking the Gentile barrier is told in Acts 10:1-11:18.
Today's message is the first in a series of seven. Several points in Acts 10:1-8 attract our attention.
1. God guided the build-up to the Gentile outreach.
Before Peter went to Caesarea, there had been a build-up to the breakthrough of the gospel among the Gentiles. In Isaiah :6, the Lord said that the restored ones of Israel would be a "light of the nations." Jesus (Luke 7:2-10) ministered to a Gentile centurion. On the Day of Pentecost, there were (Acts 2:10) Gentile "proselytes" in the audience.
Later, the gospel was preached by Philip in Samaria (Acts 8). The Samaritans were not regarded as Gentiles, but they were descendants of Jewish and Assyrian mixed marriages. After preaching in Samaria, Philip met an Ethiopian Gentile (Acts 8:27) on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. The Ethiopian was converted. Then came the conversion of Saul who was to bear (Acts 9:15) the name of Christ "before the Gentiles."
The build-up was considerable. The ministry of Paul would be powerful to the Gentiles. However, it was the apostle Peter whom God used to bring about the major Gentile breakthrough. It was fitting that God should use Peter for this purpose. He was fully respected by the Jewish church. Through all this, God was at work.
2. Cornelius was a devout God-fearer.
The "breaking of the Gentile barrier" took place in Caesarea at the house of Cornelius the centurion. Luke says that Cornelius and his household were "devout" and were "God-fearers." We know that Cornelius was a very religious man. He was generous in his giving and prayed to God regularly, but he was not circumcised. Orthodox Jews would not accept him into their community. Also, we know that he had not fully come to faith in Christ. It was not possible, in the eyes of many Jewish believers, for Cornelius to be saved without being circumcised.
Given all this, it would take a major intervention from God to break the Gentile barrier. It had to be very clearly demonstrated that God accepted Cornelius and the other Gentiles. The intervention came! Throughout the story, we see that God was at work!
3. an angel speaks to Cornelius
One day, about three in the afternoon, Cornelius had a vision. Pious Jews prayed three times a day, so Cornelius probably was on that schedule. In this vision an angel of God spoke to him. The angel acknowledges the prayers and generosity of Cornelius. These had "ascended as a memorial before God." The angel told Cornelius to dispatch some men to Joppa for Peter.
Once again God gives guidance through a vision (see Acts 9:10) and an angel (see Acts 5:19). In his vision an angel came and spoke to Cornelius. The angel's role was similar to the role of the Spirit in leading God's saints. In our next message (Acts 10:19) Peter has a vision and the Holy Spirit speaks to him. Whether through a vision, an angel, or directly through the Spirit, God supernaturally guides His servants.
4. Cornelius sends for Peter
God was at work. There is, of course, a human side to the story. Cornelius was a pious and generous man. He did not question either the messenger or the message. He simply obeyed. He summoned two of his servants and a devout soldier, explained everything to them, and sent them to Joppa. These were men that Cornelius trusted for this task.
As the story reveals, Cornelius was receptive to God and His messenger. His response to God was immediate obedience. This is an excellent example for all of us. When God leads, let us quickly do His will!
The important point of application in this passage is that God is at work. When God is ready to expand His church, He moves into a situation in His Sovereign way and opens doors. This time God gave a vision and sent an angel. He may use this method at anytime, but whatever method He uses, He is in control. No man can limit Him in what He does. His purpose will be established.
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