Summary: Preached for an Associational Revival with a theme of "Reclaiming the Vision".

There is a poem entitled “A Prayer For the Future”:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. -

This poem is warning us against a complacency that keeps us inside the church walls. Or as was with Peter in Acts 10…up on the roof dreaming about our next potluck!

I think there is a danger in the church to keep the gospel to ourselves. For whatever reason, we just aren’t getting outside the church walls with good news that Jesus saves. As a result baptisms are declining in churches across America as we huddle together as a people of God. God told Peter to get off the roof, get out of the house and on road again with the vision of a mission of salvation to the lost!

Church what I’m saying is that we need to do a better job getting outside the church with the gospel. Because, like Cornelius, there are good people who think they’ve got it made…others who are truly searching but are lost, lost, lost! They need to hear the good news and we are the only ones who have it!

Let me begin tonight as we consider Acts 10 by restating the obvious.

Restating the Obvious (vs. 1-8):

In verses 1-8 of Acts 10 we are introduced to a man named Cornelius. Cornelius receives high praise in this chapter but he is lost. He was an important man, a good man and a highly respected man but he was a lost man. The vision that Cornelius receives reveals a plainly obvious truth we have all learned and should know quite well…a person may be important, good and even highly respected in the eyes of his fellow man and even to himself...and we all know a lot of people like that I’m sure…but his status and his charity weren’t enough. Like I said…I’m stating the obvious. A good lost person is a person who is just good and lost. Our goodness doesn’t cut the mustard with God when it comes to salvation! Is that obvious from the first several verses of chapter 10? Sure it is!

Verse 4 indicates that God saw Cornelius’ good deeds but it also reveals a man who was searching…it says he was “Praying”. So God heard his prayers and set up a divine appointment between a man of good works and a man with the good news...Peter.

We often overlook the lost because we see good people who live good lives and we think their good to go...they are surely saved...we try to convince ourselves. But sadly haven’t heard the good news and they are passed by.

Peter would certainly have overlooked Cornelius had God not communicated with him. I think it’s important to point out that God communicated with Peter when Peter went to pray. Noon was a traditionally recognized time of prayer. More importantly it was a regular practice for Peter to pray.

I believe that God still prepares divine appointments for us but we will overlook them if we don’t look for God’s guidance. That’s precisely what Peter was doing and God spoke to him in this peculiar vision in vs. 9-15. A vision clearly intended to reveal to Peter that salvation was never meant to be the sole possession of the Jewish people. This vision revealed that EVERY person is dearly loved and sought out by God the Father.

No person is excluded when it comes to God’s offer of salvation. No Christian is excluded from the responsibility of sharing the message. And only one message is the exclusive message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ there is no other...and it’s a message we must revive. So let’s talk about the message we must revive.

Reviving the Message (vs. 34-43):

In verses 34-43 we see the message Peter shared and it was a very simple message. I’m all about keeping things simple. Life is too complicated already. When it comes to the message we need to share about salvation I believe that needs to be kept simple too. Listen to the simplicity of Peter’s testimony:

• God sent Christ (36)

• Christ is Lord of all (36)

• Christ loved people, healed people, died for people on the cross and rose from the dead (38-40)

• We have seen Him and know it’s true (39 & 41)

• Everyone who believes is forgiven (43)

That’s a pretty simple message. Why do we convince ourselves that it’s too complicated to share? There are Cornelius’ out there that depend on us reviving the message. There are souls all around us that feel useless and used up…Hopeless and hurting…Empty and anguished…Imprisoned and impoverished…Unwanted and unworthy.

Have we forgotten that feeling? Have we forgotten what that feels like? And have we forgotten the joy that was experienced when somehow through someone God’s grace touched us and changed us? Have we in some way come to think like Peter used to think before this vision that some people are simply not meant to experience this salvation? Oh I pray not! And I encourage us all to once again revive the message. I pray that with a God given opportunity we as an association of churches would in a mighty surge overwhelm our communities with the simple message of God’s love and forgiveness. How many good people are going to hell because we won’t share that simple message?

Witnessing is not the time to become a theologian. People won’t understand nor do they want to hear well polished doctrine. They need to hear the simple message that God sent His Son to live, love, and change lives. That He died on a cross was buried and rose again and that He’s alive today.

How can such a simple message be so persuasive and powerful? Because it’s God’s message…It’s about what God can do and will do. Sharing our faith has never been about making our encounter such that it overwhelms the lost person by our eloquence or our power of persuasion. It’s always been about the power of the gospel.

A couple of weeks ago at church we discussed the apparent confidence that Paul had when he told the jailer in Acts 16 that he and his household would be saved. We wondered was it a prophetic message that Paul received that revealed this would happen. We don’t know…we would only be presuming that was true. But if we are going to presume let us presume that Paul was simply confident in the power of the gospel to save. In fact Paul said in Romans 1:16 –

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes…”

Church let us reclaim the simple message of the gospel and allow God’s Spirit to do the work. But let us reclaim it!!! Let us regain the initiative and passion to tell others about God’s love and salvation.

Finally, let me just make some observations about what can happen if we Reclaim the vision.

Reclaim the Vision (vs. 44-47):

We’ve often referred to Proverbs 29:18 “Without a vision the people perish” to promote a healthy future for our churches.

Vision isn’t just about the future. Vision also involves learning from the past. For instance, as we reclaim the vision by reviving the message we are calling upon our past experience. We can’t say like Peter that we have seen Him with our own eyes but we have certainly seen His influence in our lives. Vision is inspired by what we have seen God do in and through His people throughout history. We see what He has done and we discover what He desires and we pray, “God I want to be a part of that work…please give me the vision to see what you have done and what You desire to do so I can be a part of that great work!”

I might also point out that the vision God gave to Peter may have been new to Peter but it wasn’t new to God. God’s purpose from the fall of man was to redeem “Everyone” that would believe in His Son. Peter suffered from shortsightedness. His vision of salvation never looked past his own people. But thankfully God shared His vision with people like Peter and Paul and you and me and all who would be His vehicles to carry the Gospel to the rest of us. You and I should realize the benefit of this vision given to these men of God. Because that vision cause them to look through the eyes of God and see a world desperately in need of the Grace God had extended. Because of that you and I have heard the glorious message of salvation!

Now understand that this vision isn’t important because we discovered it…this vision isn’t important because it’s our vision…Reclaiming the vision is important because it was God’s vision before we existed. It was, is and will always be His vision of a redeemed creation in perfect fellowship with Him. This vision is important because it’s God will. We don’t let down our churches or our associations or our pastors or our people when we lose sight of the vision,,,we let down God. Consequently we let down all those who will never hear the gospel and die in their sin to spend eternity in a Devils Hell.

Sometimes I wonder if we are stuck on the roof top of faith like Peter envisioning the potluck being prepared down in the fellowship hall where we will gather and fellowship with all the redeemed in our churches. But God is calling us to envision the hungering souls beyond our fellowship that can only be fed and satisfied by the abundant supply of God’s marvelous grace. Like Peter we need to go to our roof top...that is our time and places of prayer and spend time seeking God’s face...then we must come down and get out with a vision of the mission of salvation.

Perhaps like Peter we get a little confused about the matter. We concentrate so hard on nurturing our fellowships that we neglect people outside. Maybe, like Peter, we think “God are you sure you want me to reach out to them?” “Really…they’re pretty ornery and they are so different.” “They’re nothing like us and I just don’t think they’ll fit in.” Perhaps like Peter we too need to think about the great commission vision.

I pray that we as an association of churches will all regain this vision. It’s not our vision it’s God’s. He gives us the privilege to be a part of His vision to redeem our fellow man. Sometimes we have doubts. Apparently Peter did as well. God said to Peter in verse 20 “…accompany them with no doubts”.

In other words, “Have complete confidence me” “I provided the means of salvation so it’s mine to give freely to all”. “Quit doubting their worthiness…you weren’t worthy either!” “Quit doubting your ability…But most of all quit doubting My ability to use you to reach even the seemingly most unreachable”.

Evangelism won’t always be easy. But the blessing of sharing the gospel and seeing someone surrender to Christ far outweighs the potential concerns. More than likely if you knew that you could walk up to an individual and say, “hey God loves you, His Son died to forgive you, and He wants you to accept the salvation He freely gives in Jesus!” and they said, “I’ve been waiting to hear that…Yes I want that!” you would have no problem telling others the good news. But we know that it won’t always work out that way. We know that some will ignore, ridicule, and maybe even blatantly and spitefully reject the message. But if we are faithful then look at what will happen in verses 44 – 48:

o People saved

o People amazed

 When was the last time you were awed/amazed by something God accomplished through you? If it’s been a while maybe that says something about some vision loss.

 When was the last time people were amazed because of what they experienced God doing in this world?

o People were baptized

o People got excited again (Revived) and started telling others about God’s greatness.

Listen I need to see that happen again in my life. What about you? When Peter got hungry God gave him a hunger to tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that those hunger pains might rumble within the church again.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim. -