Summary: Jews and Gentiles may be distinguishable peoples, but there is only one message and one way of salvation for all.
1. Gary Dougherty, a co-worker at RBC Ministries, was walking home from church one evening when he saw a young man coming from the opposite direction. A strong urge came over Gary to talk with him about becoming a Christian. He hesitated at first, but then he said to this total stranger, "Pardon me, but I believe God wants me to tell you how to become a Christian."
"I just asked my girlfriend’s mother that question," said the man, "but she didn’t know." "You mean you want to become a Christian?" Gary asked. "Yes, I do!" he replied. Still incredulous, Gary asked him again and then shared the plan of salvation with him. That night a young man met Jesus as his Savior. [Source: Our Daily Bread]
2. This might be a little different in the case of Cornelius. I believe Cornelius was born-again under the Old Covenant, but His faith had to be migrated to the now completed work of Christ. Still, this migration does exemplify conversion.
Main Idea: Jews and Gentiles may be distinguishable peoples, but there is only one message and one way of salvation for all.
I. The Lesson SOLIDIFIED: Gentiles Saved the Same Way As Jews (10:30-48)
A. Cornelius explains WHY he called Peter (30-33)
In obedience to God’s command
B. Peter connects the DOTS (34-36)
Deuteronomy 10:17 reads, "For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes."
"I am a creature [of God] and my neighbor is also His creature… We have learnt that it matters not whether one does much or little, if only he directs his heart to heaven" (Berachot 17a).
• The implications of that phrase, "Lord of All" now take on new meaning…
How would Peter have understood the Great Commission’s urgency for worldwide evangelism before this event? Many of the ancient rabbis held the there always were, among the gentiles, righteous people "who have a share in the world to come" (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 13:2).
C. The message is JESUS (37-43)
1. HISTORICAL (37-41)
Some people -- including some ministers -- will say that "The Christ Event" (cross, burial, and resurrection) did not happen in literal history, but in a "higher history," in a spiritual way; this is an escape from reason. Christianity is a historical faith! It is not a philosophical set of beliefs with myths added to accentuate the philosophy.
a. throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee--location
b. after the baptism which John proclaimed--time
c. Jesus of Nazareth--actual person
d. anointed Him with the Holy Spirit --Messiah
e. He went about doing good and healing --signs
f. they crucified Him-- atonement
g. God raised Him --victory
h. we are witnesses --veracity/truth
2. PROPOSITIONAL (42-43)
A proposition is, "something offered for consideration or acceptance" It can be taken or left, accepted or rejected.
a. He will judge, so you had better act
b. Old Testament bears witness (fulfilled prophecies)
c. Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness
d. What have YOU done about this proposition
D. The entire CROWD is immediately converted (44)
• This is the "Gentile Pentecost"
• The "tongues" were the same kind of tongues as in Acts 2, real foreign languages.
• In Acts 11:17, Peter comments: " So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"
E. The implications gentiles saved without becoming JEWS (45-46)
It took God’s miraculous intervention: Peter’s vision and then Cornelius and his extended family speaking in foreign languages to convince the Jewish believers that God accepted gentile believers as equals. These are the first true gentiles who are brought into the church family without becoming Jews first.
Not only did Peter need to be convinced, but so did the other 6 Jewish believers who were with him. The ingrained perspective embraced by Jews for centuries was now about to change. Today, few of us can appreciate how monumental a change this was.
When a major, controversial change of perspective is in the works, it is important that leaders are in solidarity.
F. The same entrance RITE is given to gentiles (47-48)
In early Acts 11:15-18, Peter rehashes all this material to satisfy the Jewish believers who had confronted him about fellowshipping with gentiles. Peter explained his vision, and then why he ordered these new believers to be baptized:
"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ’John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?"