Summary: Do you know what it feels like to have the peace of God guarding your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus? Do you know that you have been accepted into God’s family?
THE Good News of the Gospel
Let me start with a question: Do you enjoy hearing bad news?
I assume this morning that there is one thing we all have in common - we all want to hear good news. We want to be encouraged.
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear something good for a change on the evening news?
Deep down, every one of us wants to hear good news.
This morning I want us to briefly consider the most wonderful news that has ever been reported.
The Good News of the Gospel.
By way of introduction let me remind you of the events recorded in Acts Chapter 10 of when an angel appeared to Cornelius.
Cornelius was a centurion in the Italian regiment of the Roman army. These centurions were in change of 100 men, and they were always men of very noble character.
The angel says, “Cornelius, God has remembered your prayers and your gifts to the poor. Now send for a man named Simon Peter, and he will tell you the way to be saved.”
The Bible describes Cornelius and his family as God-fearing and devout.
He was always donating money to the poor, he prayed to God regularly.
By the worlds standard Cornelius was a great guy, but something was wrong – he wasn’t going to heaven.
Why? He seemed good.
He followed the religion of the Jews.
He prayed, he donated to the poor, he tried to live a good, clean life.
In his mind, Cornelius thought, that’s what God wants me to do – Cornelius thought that was the way to heaven.
But something was wrong.
Something was missing in his heart, something big, and so God sent an angel to Cornelius,
and told Cornelius to find the Apostle Peter.
But Peter had a problem.
The problem is that Peter doesn’t like Gentiles!
He only likes hanging out with other Jews!
So God needs to deal with Peter.
Peter falls into a trance.
And God gives him a vision and God teaches Peter in this vision that God cares about all the people of the world. Not just the Jews.
While Peter was thinking about this vision, God told him, “Some friends of Cornelius are here because they want you to preach about God’s love to his family. Don’t be afraid to go with them, for I have sent them.”
So Peter travels with these men to the house of Cornelius.
When he goes inside the house, he sees that there’s a whole load of people sitting around, waiting to hear the good news of God’s love.
And Peter opens his mouth, and his words recorded in Acts 10:34-36 are “34Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. 36This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. ”
Peter then goes on to describe how Jesus took away the sins of the world by dying on the cross and then rising from the dead.
And Cornelius is listening to every word.
He had always thought that being a good person, helping the poor, praying – that’s how you please God, that’s how you go to heaven.
But now, Cornelius finds out something different.
He finds out that no matter how good you are, in your own merit you can never be good enough.
He finds out that Jesus Christ, someone he had heard about before, can be his personal Saviour.
He finds out that Jesus has taken all of his sins away, that God loves him and forgives him because of what Jesus had done for him.
He finds out that prayer and good works are not the way to heaven, but ways of thanking Jesus for saving him.
God had changed the way he thought.
Can you relate to this Roman soldier thoughts?
Maybe you thought that you could get to heaven by being a good person.
Maybe you prayed once in awhile.
Maybe you even helped out those in need.
Maybe you tried to live a good, clean life.
Sure, you had heard of Jesus Christ.
And maybe you even thought you should just try and be a good person, like Him.
And then, you found out, no, that’s not how it works.
Through his Word, God changes the way you think. You find out that no matter how good you are, in your own merit you’ll never be good enough, you’ll never do enough to earn God’s favour.
Through his Word, you find out that even the nicest person in the world still has faults, still has shortcomings, and because of those short comings, can never be nice enough to earn their way to heaven.