God's Word for Today
God's Word for Today
November 23, 2011
Today we are going to talk about Cornelius who was a Roman, he was a centurion, meaning that he was in charge of one hundred soldiers. He lived in the Roman city of Caesarea. He already believed in God, but didn’t know yet about Jesus. He prayed to God regularly and gave to help the Jewish people. He was visited by an angel. The angel told the officer, Cornelius, to summon Peter, who would communicate God’s message to him. This event took place about ten years after Pentecost. There are four parts to the story in this chapter. First prepared hearts, second willingness to go where God leads, third the preaching of the Word of God , and fourth the result – Cornelius and his household are saved.
I Prepared hearts verses 1 - 22
Before He could save the Gentiles, God had to prepare Peter to bring the message and Cornelius to hear the message. Salvation is a work of God through His grace and His Spirit, but God works through human channels. Angels can deliver God’s messages to lost men, but they cannot preach the Gospel to them. That is our privilege and responsibility. The heart of both the one bring the Gospel and the one receiving it must be prepared beforehand.
The next day, as the Roman messengers were on the way to Joppa where Peter was staying, Peter had a vision. Three times a sheet filled with animals forbidden by Jewish Law as food (this is the meaning of “unclean” here) was lowered from heaven. Three times a voice commanded Peter to eat. And three times Peter protested against the God given command. Each time Peter was told, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean”. While Peter was puzzling about the meaning of the vision, Cornelius’ messengers knocked at the door.
The Jews who had become Christians up to this point did not believe the Gospel was for the Gentiles or the foreigners too, but only for them. So Peter needed to have his heart changed toward the foreigners and an understanding from God that the Gospel is for them too.
Caesarea is one hundred kilometers northwest of Jerusalem and 45 kilometers north of Joppa. At that time, Caesarea was the Roman capital of Judea and had many beautiful public buildings. This is the city where Cornelius, the Roman centurion, lived. He had apparently decided the myths of the Romans gods were not true and began following the Jewish faith. He was not circumcised and did not become a Jew so he was called a “God fearer.”
It is interesting to see how religious a person can be and still not be saved. The difference between Cornelius and many religious people today is this: he knew that his religious devotion was not enough, something or Someone was still missing in his life. Many religious people today are satisfied that their character and good works will get them to heaven, and they have no understanding of their own sin. In his prayers, Cornelius was asking God to show him the way of salvation.
God sent an angel to instruct Cornelius and, like a military man obeying his commander, Cornelius immediately obeyed. Peter needed a vision to convince him that God loved the Gentiles also, and not just the Jews. The Jews thought of Gentiles as unclean. They normally would have nothing to do with them and would not enter their homes. It was lunch time and Peter hadn’t eaten, God used a vision about food to teach Peter that the Gentiles were not unclean. The Jew was not “clean” and the Gentile “unclean,” actually both Jew and Gentile are “unclean” before God! “ This meant that a Gentile did not have to become a Jew in order to become a Christian.
God’s timing is always perfect, and the three men from Caesarea arrived at the door just as Peter was considering the meaning of the vision. The Spirit commanded Peter to meet the men and go with them. Peter was no longer to make any distinctions between the Jews and the Gentiles.
II Willing to go where God leads verses. 23-33
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