2018-08-12 – Acts 10.34-43 – For All Who Believe – 3

Acts 10.34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

2018-08-12 – Acts 10.34-43 – For All Who Believe – 3
Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today. God bless you all.  (Print old/new Business minutes)
(Talk about India dress and dress up day)

For our sermon message today, this is the third and final part of a series entitled For All Who Believe. It is about Salvation, however we will also touch on the subject of prejudice and segregation in the early church and today.

Please turn now to Acts 10:34 (pg 129 of the Pew Bibles), which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, but let us start with prayer.  

Last week we read where the apostle Peter went atop a roof and saw a vision of all kinds of animals being lowered down in a massive sheet, and God told Peter to take kill and eat.
As we talked about last week, have very strict religious diets. This large sheet was full of forbidden living things that Jews, under the old covenant, could not eat. They weren’t Kosher, and Jews couldn’t even touch such unclean animals let alone eat them. This was a big deal for Peter. Three times God told Peter that anything God says is clean is clean indeed. As Peter woke from his vision, three men showed up at his door. God told peter to go with these men to the Centurion Cornelius’ house to tell him about Jesus, for which he did. With that introduction, that takes us to today’s scripture verses, where Peter takes action now upon what God has revealed to him in that vision.
Starting at verse 34, it reads:

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality35 but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 

I love how Peter opens up this message, “God shows no partiality”. Also remember that Jesus told them to go into “all the world” when He gave us the Great Commission. Matthew 28 Jesus said “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Do you think Jesus was at all suggesting that we should go to all nations to make disciples of only the Jews? Of course not. Peter was just then fully understanding and receiving this truly Great Commission.

Peter that day was talking to Cornelius and his family and friends. Cornelius was a Roman Centurion. Not only did he not look like Peter or come from the same family tree, he was an enemy enforcer against the Jews. And yet God sent Peter to proclaim the Gospel message to them so they too might be saved. Here starting in verse 39 is a summary of that Gospel message by Peter:

39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They (the Jews and Romans) put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people, but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Here Peter emphasizes how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power. And God raised Him up on the third-day and validated His resurrection by making Him visible to them as witnesses. Peter mentions that they ate and drank with Him to underscore the reality of Jesus’ being alive, to show that it was not merely a spiritual resurrection, but physical. This risen Lord Jesus is the One and Only whom God appointed to be the Judge of everyone who has ever lived.

In these verses, Peter repeatedly emphasizes this point, “We are witnesses of all the things He did” Witnesses played a vital role in the Jewish nation back then. He said that they were also witnesses of His resurrection, chosen beforehand by God. And as witnesses, Peter adds that Jesus commanded them to preach to the people and testify about Jesus as the coming Judge. And, he adds how all the prophets bear witness of Jesus as the One we must believe in to receive forgiveness of sins. All the prophets means from Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, all the way to Malachi, which is the last book and prophet of the Old Testament. They all testify about Jesus. Here is a sample from the old prophets:

Deuteronomy 18:18-19 [God told Moses] I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name. Moses said, God told him about Jesus.

Isaiah 52:13-15 See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness, so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. (Please read all of Isaiah 52-53)

Thought: Throughout His-story Jesus is the prophesized solution for the sin in our world. And accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is the only way that anyone can get into Heaven to be with God. Jesus said himself, He is the only way, Amen?

The point here for us is that if God has truly saved us from our sins, then He has appointed us, like Peter to be witnesses to others of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. God’s chosen method is not to proclaim the gospel through the angels or to shout-out His message from heaven. His method is to use His people, like Peter and us, as witnesses to tell others.

And what is the message? That salvation comes to everyone who believes in the name of Jesus. In our story today, even though the Centurion Cornelius was a good man, he still needed to hear about Jesus Christ and to put his trust in Him. As Peter proclaimed in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” This means that there is no salvation for anyone that calls themselves just good people. That includes good Atheists, good Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no salvation for good Americans who even live in a supposedly “Christian” nation, apart from personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is no salvation for good Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No Jesus, No Salvation. But there is Salvation For All Who Believes and Receives Jesus Christ.

Believing in the name of Jesus does not refer to a general, vague sort of belief. Rather, it is specific and personal. To believe in Jesus means that I believe He is the Lord who gave Himself on the cross for my sins. I believe the promise of God, that whoever believes on Him will receive eternal life as God’s gift, not based on any human merit, but only on God’s free grace. To believe in Jesus means that I no longer rely on anything in myself, rather I trust only in what Jesus did on the cross as my hope for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Peter gives us a tremendous message today as it reveals God’s heart is for everyone, not just the Jews. Peter understands now that all people are to be respected and given the opportunity to hear the Gospel and accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. This is setting up to become a huge shift for the church to allow fellowship and membership For All Who Believe going forward.

God had promised Abraham that through his descendants, all the nations would be blessed. However, for almost 2,000 years since Abraham, salvation had been for the Jews alone. But now, because of Jesus, the door of salvation swings wide open to include the Gentiles and the world.

Jesus is the Great Equalizer of all mankind. For as Paul wrote in Galatians 3:26 “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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise”. For we have been grafted into the vine, or adopted by Christ into His family. And for that I say hallelujah!

Peter’s sermon here teaches us two clear lessons:

  1. People from every racial and national background are on equal footing when it comes to receiving the Gospel. People don’t have to become like us to become Christians. They can keep their cultural traditions, they can dress in their native styles and they can continue singing songs that fit with their culture, even if they don’t sound like our traditional American hymns, as long as they don’t violate God’s Word. We should be celebrating our cultural Christian diversity, Amen?

2. The Gospel story is a beautiful message filled with hope and promise. Like Peter, we need to share that beautiful message with all we meet. We need to love the message and show the people how the Gospel has changed our lives, as it can change theirs too, and for the good.

Our message continues at verse 44 where the Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit:

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

Peter didn’t even get to finish his sermon before everyone responded that day!
In fact, Peter was just warming up when God intervened and everyone got saved! What a privilege it is to see the Holy Spirit working in a sermon message.
I get excited when people just shout “Amen”. Praise the Lord!

These “non-Jewish” Gentiles received the Holy Spirit that day. Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit now comes to dwell in the heart of the believer at the moment of salvation (Rom. 8:9; Gal. 3:2). Then as a believer learns to walk in the Spirit, over time the deeds of the flesh will diminish and the fruit of the Spirit will increase (Gal. 5:16-23), thus making the Spirit’s presence evident in their lives.

They were then baptized in water. Water baptism is the outward profession of what God has done spiritually, and thus it is intended to follow salvation. I like how Peter says, “Can anyone withhold the water…” Everyone who has believed in Christ as Savior & Lord should obey Him by being baptized, as He was, in water.

These last verses here show that they desired to know more and to grow in their faith. They asked Peter to stay on for a few days, and the implication is that he did stay on to instruct them. Everyone who is truly saved should desire to grow in their faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). Like newborn babes, we should all long for the milk and daily bread of God’s Word, that by it we may grow in respect to Christian walk. God wants us to know Him and love Him. (1 Pet. 2).

Cornelius was a God-fearing man who did many good deeds that was noticed by God Himself. But we need to understand that although Cornelius was a good man, his goodness had not saved him. God sent Peter to explain the way of salvation to him because he still needed to be saved. Cornelius still needed to receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus for his sins.

Like we saw in this His-story lesson today, God works differently with different people. He sometimes saves some right out of the cesspool of sin. They are wallowing in it, not even seeking after God when He dramatically enters their lives and rescues them. At that moment, they turn from their sins to follow Christ. But with others, like Cornelius, God puts the hunger in their hearts to know Him. They begin to seek Him and they try to please Him with their lives. But they’re still sinners and they do not get saved until they hear the Gospel and choose to believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.

However, in conclusion may I suggest that the Bible plainly declares that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). If we have broken only one of God’s holy commandments, we are guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10). Those who think that they are good enough, or righteous enough to enter God’s holy presence, are guilty of pride of the worst sort. Jesus Christ is God’s only means of true salvation and peace. We cannot get to Heaven on our own accord, it is not possible. Jesus is the Only Way.

Peter stated plainly that Jesus is Lord of all, meaning, not only Lord of the Jews, but also of Gentiles like me, who sometimes even wear funny looking clothes.

All this ties into what Peter said at the end of his sermon, that God has appointed the risen Lord Jesus to be the Judge of the living and the dead. Everyone who has ever lived will stand trial before the Lord Jesus, who will judge every thought and intent of the heart. Are you ready to stand and be judged by Jesus? Have you made the decision to follow Him in your heart yet?

Please Stand with me now and Let Us Pray: Heavenly Father..