Summary: This passage gives the first message ever preached to the Gentiles by one of the apostles. It’s the message that opened the door of salvation to all the people of the world.
Last week left us in the home of Cornelius, a Roman centurion, who, while in prayer, received a message from God to send some men to bring back Simon Peter. Peter along this same time had also received a message from God while in prayer to go with these men. Cornelius tells Peter in verse 33 READ.
Our passage tonight is 34-43. This passage gives the first message ever preached to the Gentiles by one of the apostles. It’s the message that opened the door of salvation to all the people of the world. There are several points in this message that I want to emphasize tonight—9 points in fact. So let’s get into the message that Peter preached. READ 34-35.
Point #1 is that God shows no favoritism—He accepts anyone who fears Him and does what is right. God shows in this chapter of Acts that He has no favorites and no prejudice against anyone. He shows no partiality or discrimination. He doesn’t accept a person because of nationality, race, social standing, or class.
Sometimes this is hard for us to understand. God doesn’t face a person because of who he is, what he does, or what he has. “But surely,” someone says, “Surely after all I have been doing for God, surely He will lean my way if it becomes a matter of Him choosing me over someone else.” WRONG! That kind of thing doesn’t make a person acceptable to God.
Peter states in these two verses that God is no respecter of persons and God is not respecter of nations. Two things make a person acceptable to God and Peter covers both of them.
1. Fearing God.
2. Doing what is right. In the Bible, righteousness means two things: to BE right and to DO right.
There are those who stress being righteous and neglect doing righteousness. This can lead to two serious errors.
1. It can lead to false security. It causes a person to stress that he is saved and acceptable to God because he has believed in Jesus Christ. But he neglects doing good and living as he should. He neglects obeying God and serving man.
2. It can also lead to loose living. It allows a person to go out and do pretty much whatever he wants. He feels secures and comfortable in his faith in Christ. He knows that what he does may affect his fellowship with God and other believers, but he thinks his behavior will not affect his salvation. He thinks that no matter what he does he is still acceptable to God.
The problem with this is that it is false righteousness. Righteousness in the Bible means being righteous and doing righteousness. Then you have those who stress DOING righteousness and neglect BEING righteous. This also leads to two serious errors:
1. It can lead to self-righteousness and legalism. This is the person that stresses that he is saved because he does good. He works and behaves morally and keeps certain rules and regulations. He does the things a Christian should do by obeying the main laws of God but he neglects the basic law: the law of love and acceptance—that God loves him and accepts him not because he does good, but because he loves and trusts the righteousness of Christ.
2. This type of thinking can also lead to being judgmental. A person who stresses that he is righteous because he keeps certain laws often judges others.
Again, the problem with this is that it is false righteousness. So righteousness in the Bible is both being righteous and DOING righteousness.
READ 36-37. The 2nd point in this passage is that God sent His Word to Israel; He sent Jesus preaching peace. Peter says it plainly. God sent His Word to Israel and He sent it through Jesus Christ. But God’s Word wasn’t meant for Israel alone. Jesus didn’t come just for Israel’s salvation. Again, God is not respecter of persons or nations. Peter declares three facts in these 2 verses.
1. Jesus is Lord of all. Not just the Jews, or the privileged, or the poor, or religious, or the Gentiles, or the heathen.
2. He declared that Jesus had been talked about throughout all Judea. Peter told Cornelius, “You know. You have heard the Word—the message God sent.” Cornelius and the ones sitting there had just paid little or no attention to it. I wonder how many sit through church services and pay little if any attention to the message.
3. Peter said that Jesus began to preach God’s Word in Galilee right after John’s ministry of baptism.
So in preaching all this, Peter was saying that no one had an excuse for rejecting the gospel of God’s kingdom. Jesus had traveled and preached the gospel everywhere. And so it is today with those who have heard the gospel. They have no excuse.