Summary: Peter had received the call to go and visit a Gentile, so off he went. This doesn’t mean he didn’t have misgivings, but he went anyway. And so should we.
Passage: Acts 10:23b-48
Intro: “Chuck Yeager story” found on SermonCentral.com about Chuck Yeager, in a sermon on this passage by Brian Atwood. In it, Chuck Yeager discovers why a certain plane he was testing continued to crash after a certain manuever. A bolt that was designed to be placed head down had been installed head up, as the assembler thought to be right.
1. the Book of Acts is historical
2. but if we just read it as history without seeing the principles that apply to us, we miss the point.
3. we are deep in the story of Peter’s confrontation with the Gentile Cornelius
4. a record of the invasion of the Gentile world with the gospel.
5. but the success of this invasion rested on the shoulders of one guy; Peter
6. if he gave in to fear, the mission would fail. If he responded in faith, it would succeed.
7. let’s follow his steps, get inside his head, see God at work to change him.
8. he was putting the bolts in like he always did, but God wanted him to put them in upside down, or people would die
9. God is at work to change us, too
I. Fear is an Ever-Present Reality
1. this passage covers a two day period.
2. it also covers a 30 mile walk in the company of 6 Jewish brothers.
3. Peter’s mind no doubt racing the whole way; what was God doing, who would find out, what would happen, how would this visit impact the church, his leadership,
4. what should he do when they offered him food? What if there was a whole group of people instead of just Cornelius?
5. for a day and a half of walking, Peter pondered, perhaps discussed.
6. and during this walk, fear of the unknown tortured his mind.
7. he had seen God do great things, been stretched
8. but this was unknown territory, without precedent. No one had ever done it this way before.
9. his mind was probably full of “yeah, buts”, agreement with God, and yet quickly coming up with reasons why God couldn’t be doing what it looked like He was doing.
10. this is the field on which the Christian war is fought.
11. God calls us, and it is our tendency to come up with reasons why it can’t be done, and more specifically, why we can’t do it.
12. I have come to the conclusion after 25 years of pastoral ministry that the only real barrier to effective church ministry is not finances or size or location or congregational makeup.
13. the only real barrier to effectiveness in a church or an individual is fear.
14. fear is part of the human condition, and faith in God is the antidote.
15. Peter might have experienced fear on that 30 mile walk, but faith kept him walking.
II. Faith Moves Without Having All the Answers
1. fear is constantly seeking information
Il) because of love gifts from many people, including this congregation, we decided to update our ancient kitchen appliances.
Of course, didn’t want to get something we would be unhappy with. Chose dealer, sought info, etc
2. that’s what we do when we make any decision. Nothing wrong with that.
3. but often God calls us to action without giving us all the information.
4. certainly Peter here is a great example
5. gets to the house, meets Cornelius
6. first trip inside a Gentiles house, find a mass of uncircumcised people in there!! Whoa!
7. his discomfort meter just went thru the roof.
8. but he stayed open! Asked Cornelius why he sent for him.
Il) Come on, Peter. Isn’t it obvious?
9. the evangelistic nature of this event was not yet clear to Peter.
10. Cornelius tells story, then makes a powerful statement.
11. v33 “We are all here…the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
12. remember, this story coming from the mouth of an uncircumcised Gentile. Every reason to reject it! Could be from Satan!
13. but Peter saw the hand of God.
Il) he is connecting the dots!
14. his vision on the rooftop becomes clear.
15. God has sanctified every person, Jew and Gentile, to hear the gospel.
16. remember, up to this point the church was exclusively Jewish.
17. they had not shared the gospel with any Gentile except the Ethiopian eunuch.
18. this was church doctrine! This was orthodoxy! This was the accepted practice of the church.
19. but the church can be wrong, and the Lord of the church has the authority to change the direction of the church.
PP Matthew 28:19 “ethne”
III. God Responds to the Faithful Obedience of His Servants
1. Peter’s message here is very interesting.
2. look at the number of times he mentions Israel or something distinctly Jewish.