Acts 10:23-33 - God's Act of Cleansing
Welcome to our Bible Study today. We are studying Spiritual Applications from Acts. Our current series has to do with salvation being offered to the Gentiles. In today's study, based on Acts 10:23-33, we will study "God's Act of Cleansing." What God did, opened the door for the breakthrough of the gospel among the Gentiles.
1. Peter Said, "I Too Am Just A Man."
Cornelius, the centurion, sent his delegation from Caesarea to Joppa to invite Peter to come to his house. The next day, after the delegation arrived, Peter went with them to Caesarea. When he arrived in Caesarea, Cornelius, his relatives, and his close friends were waiting. When Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and reverenced or worshipped him.
Peter immediately exclaimed, "Stand up. I too am just a man." Right away Peter dispelled the notion that he was doing anything in his own power. Peter was just a man representing a divine cause. The breakthrough of the gospel among the Gentiles was God's doing. Peter was not worthy of worship or adulation. This is a lesson that we all must learn. We should not take credit for what God has done. God alone is worthy of all praise.
2. Peter Tells How God Led Him
Many people had assembled to hear Peter. He described how God had led him. He acknowledged that it was "unlawful" by Jewish custom for a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him. Much had to do with food. Some varieties of food were considered unclean. However, God made it clear to Peter that He was the one to decide about food. What God had cleansed, Peter should not call unclean. After this, Peter explained that God had shown him that he should not call any man unholy or unclean.
God was not asking Peter to do anything immoral. God had overridden human laws and cleansed what others called unclean. So there was no reason for Peter to not kill and eat. In addition there was no reason why Peter should not visit with the Gentiles.
Sometimes God leads us to do things that do not conform to accepted cultural norms. When God makes it clear that He has changed the order of things, we can act in good conscience. Once God had made this plain, Peter did not object to God's command. Then, Peter asked Cornelius why he had been invited to come.
3. Cornelius Recalls God's Intervention
Given Peter's inquiry, Cornelius explained what had happened to him. He recalled how God had intervened in his life. While Cornelius was praying, a man in shining garments, an angel (Acts 10:3), spoke to him. The angel told Cornelius that his prayers had been heard and his alms giving had been remembered. Then the angel told Cornelius to send to Joppa for Peter who was staying at the house of Simon, the tanner. Next, Cornelius sent for Peter whom he said, was kind enough to come.
One of the impressive things about this story is that God speaks to whom He pleases. Cornelius was a God-fearer but not yet a convert to Christ. Yet God spoke to him. Sometimes God reveals Himself to lost people in order to draw them to Christ. Some people testify to having a dream or a vision in which Christ is revealed to them. The main point is that God is accomplishing His purpose.
4. The Stage Is Set For The Gospel Witness
At this point Cornelius told Peter that they were open to hear what God had commanded Peter to say. He did not suggest or try to guess what Peter would say; instead, he just expressed their readiness to hear what God had spoken to Peter. Thus, the stage was set for Peter to preach the gospel to the waiting crowd. What an opening for the gospel!
More often than we think, God has prepared the way for us to minister. We may think we are on our own, but behind the scenes – God is at work. He is preparing the hearts of those in our audiences. If it were not so, there would not be much of a response. But, because it is so, there is a ready response to the gospel call. People come to Christ and rejoice in their new found salvation.
According to Acts 1:8, the gospel was for all men, everywhere. However, before the gospel could reach the Gentiles, there were huge barriers that had to be broken. The Jewish believers had to overcome their custom of not eating or visiting with Gentiles. God broke through all of this by making clean what they considered unclean. The old customs and rules were not allowed to hinder the progress of the kingdom of God. This should inspire us to always follow the will of God.
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