Summary: A turning point for the Church, as God uses two unlikely characters to accomplish His will, taking the Gospel to the Gentiles...breaking down the past barriers.
Read Acts 10 (long text but needed for context)
The question for today, the title of this message is….Can God Himself Change Your Mind? And on the end of that question we could add such things as…. Can God Himself Change Your Mind about what you believe to be true in the Bible? Can God change your mind about people and race…Can God Change Your Mind about your point of view…in an effort to see His Point of view?
This morning our Journey through Acts brings us to a very important crossroads…this is a turning point for the Gospel. This awesome news about Jesus and the resurrection and this New Life has to this point been preached exclusively to the Jews….that doesn’t mean there weren’t Gentile believers because our passage is going to give us a great example of a Gentile believer that God uses to open Peter’s eyes….but so far, the main focus has been on preaching to the Jews. God has a new set of marching orders for the church.
1. Who is Cornelius? V. 1-7
Cornelius was stationed in Caesarea, about 30 miles North of Joppa, was built by Herod the Great from 25 to 13 BC, it had become the capital of Judea. There was a special unit stationed there, soldiers known as the Italian cohort, around 1,000 men in this unit, and Cornelius, a centurion was commanding a group of 100 men.
Some Gentiles in those days were tired of the foolishness and immorality of the religions of Rome and Greece. Many, including Cornelius, found something better in the teaching of the synagogues and accepted the truth of the one true God who is Holy, righteous, and good.
The writer, Luke, calls Cornelius “devout”. In other words, he was right in his attitudes toward both God and man and by grace was living a godly life. He had also led his whole household into this relationship with God, not only his family, but also his servants and some of his soldiers.
3 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!” 4 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. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Without a doubt, God saw the desire of Cornelius’ heart, he was a man who prayed at the same time the Jews held their prayers, and during this time, an Angel of the Lord appeared to on Simon him…and Cornelius, startled, immediately understood this was from the Lord…. “What is it, Lord?” We see that God sends a message through the Angel, the angel directs Cornelius to send men to Joppa to summon Simon…or who we know as Peter…..Cornelius did what was asked.
God is preparing the way for the Gospel to be shared to all people; he is using an unlikely character in Cornelius, a gentile Roman Military Centurion….we need to remember this truth. God is always at work around us, and we need to be open to what He is doing, even if things don’t happen like we think they should. Peter is about to have his whole religious life turned upside down…
Have you ever had your life turned upside down? How will you respond to life changing events in your life….will you trust God? Or will you blame God for messing up your comfort?
2. Peter’s Life is interrupted big time. V. 9-16
In this story, we can see God’s hand at work, preparing each side for what He has planned. How many of you know that God is always at work, preparing not only your heart for His plan, but also working on the other side, todays passage is a perfect example.
Peter is doing the same thing Cornelius was doing…Peter was on a roof praying during this 3pm prayer time. Remember who Peter is, he is an apostle who was with Jesus, he was a Jew who carried out the Jewish customs and he was very careful to follow the Jewish laws and regulations, in an effort to please God. This kind of religious behavior was what he knew, he was doing what he believed to be correct, the keeping of the laws and regulations represented a special relationship with the Almighty…they did these things to Please God.
During Peter’s prayer, He is in the spirit, like most men, he was hungry, he saw a sheet coming down, and this sheet was filled with all kinds of wild animals, reptiles, birds of the air….these were not the domesticated animals that were considered clean by the law of Moses, and they were all mixed together, again not adhering to the separation that is required by the law.