Scripture: Acts 10:34-48 (cf. 44-48); John 10:9-17
Theme: World Changing Stories
Title: The Story that Changed Everything
Grace and peace from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I want to talk to you today about how to live a transformational life. That is to say how to live a life that not only has the ability to transform you but the world around you in a more positive and uplifting way.
Many believe that our passage in Acts this morning is one of the most important passages in the whole Bible. As you read this passage and begin to fully understand it, I believe that you will come to the conclusion that it has to be one of the top passages in the whole Bible.
It is a story that reveals a major shift that happened in human history. It reveals a change in how everyone is to be viewed and understood. It reveals a major modification in evangelism and it reveals a new revelation in what it means to be a Born Again Spirit filled Christ follower.
It is therefore an amazing transformational story.
Now, we all know that there are other stories that people have stated as being world changers; transformational in nature. But none of those other stories have been able to transform lives to the extent we find in our passage this morning.
Homer’s Odyssey is considered to be one of those stories that have been a world changer. When Natalie Haynes, a writer and broadcaster in the UK was asked why she believed that Homer’s Odyssey is such a powerful transformational story, she replied this way:
“Because it is one of the great foundational myths of Western culture, because it asks what it means to be a hero.”
She further stated: “because it has great female characters in it, as well as men, because it is full of gods and monsters and is properly epic, and because it forces us to question the assumptions we might have about quests, war, and the ever-current issue of what it means to return home.” (https://greekreporter.com/2018/06/01/critics-choose-homers-odyssey-as-worlds-most-influential-story/)
Other people have chosen other stories as world changers:
+Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
+Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
+1984 by George Orwell (1949)
And of course those who are more clued into movies and the like have said the same about the Citizen Kane, The Day After Tomorrow and Marvel’s Endgame Saga.
I guess the case can be made that all of those stories have greatly impacted our world. But the story that involves Cornelius and his family is one that has impacted more than our world. It is a story that has impacted all of creation. It is a story that impacted Heaven and Hell. It is a story that impacted things both in history and beyond history.
What is that story?
At its heart of the story of Cornelius is the story of Jesus. It is the story of Jesus’ Incarnation. It is the story of Jesus’ mission. It is the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is the story of Jesus’ Ascension and it is the story of Pentecost. It is the story of Full Salvation.
Let’s take a few moments and see just how this story has the supernatural power to impact our lives and all those lives around us.
I. Jesus’ story opens up for Us the very Presence of God
As you read this passage you become vividly aware of the reality that as Peter shares the story of Jesus the very presence of God becomes present. Peter’s words act like an open door that allows God’s Holy Presence to fill the atmosphere of Cornelius’ heart and home.
In fact, as you read the story in its entirety starting back at the beginning of Acts chapter 10 you see where the story is actually being orchestrated by God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is the Lord God Almighty who directs the actions of both Cornelius and the Apostle Peter. It is the Lord who sends an angel to talk to Cornelius in a vision. It is the Lord who directs Cornelius to then send for the Apostle Peter to come to his home. It is the Lord who tells Cornelius where he can find the Apostle Peter. And it is the Lord who even tells Cornelius what house to go to find the Apostle.
Then it is the Lord who begins to work on the Apostle Peter the following day. The Lord reveals to the Apostle Peter a whole new way of looking at everything. The Lord reveals to Peter that because of what was done on the cross things are no longer the same. What was once considered unholy and unclean can now be clean and holy.
The Holy Spirit reveals to the Apostle that he will be visited by some men from Cornelius. The Holy Spirit tells Peter that he is to welcome these men into his house. Afterwards, he is to go back with them to talk to Cornelius and his house hold.
As you read the entire story it is one that is full of visions, revelations and directions. It is a story that is filled with the LORD providing new insight, information and guidance. It is a story that allows the Apostle Peter to share the Greatest Story ever told in verses 34 – 48.
This story is full of the activity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is full of the Lord directing angelic beings and handing out visions. It is full of new insights and the charisma of God’s Holy Spirit. It is a story full of intrigue and life transforming decisions.
Whenever we involve a conversation or a story that centers on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we need to take full stock of what is actually going on. We are not merely sharing words like we would if we were talking about shopping, watching a movie or watching a ball game.
No, when we begin having a conversation about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we need to understand that we have just invited heaven to be all around us. We have invited the Lord to send us His angels, new revelations and insight. We have invited the Holy Spirit to enter into our midst and share with us supernatural knowledge and wisdom. We have invited the Holy Trinity to come into our midst to teach us, guide us and transform us. We have put ourselves into the position to be transformed in all kinds of ways.
Whether it is a private Bible Study, a group Bible study or a worship setting of any kind this is what is happening. We are not merely attending Church. We are not just opening up our Bibles to receive some new human based knowledge, insight or information. It is so much more than that.
We are inviting God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be in our midst. We are inviting them to come in a take up a chair. We are inviting them to come and be in charge. We are inviting them to do something supernatural in our midst. We are inviting them to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
II. Secondly, we see the Story of Jesus allows us to both hear and see the Truth
When the Apostle Peter opened his mouth in verses 34-43, the Holy Spirit used Peter’s voice and spoke the Truth about Life, about Jesus and about Redemption.
I am sure that what we have recorded here is just a brief synopsis of what Peter actually said that day. I am sure that his sermon was longer than the few words that St. Luke records for us here. It’s hard to believe that Peter came all that way just to say what has to be an outline of his actual sermon.
But what Luke does do for us is to give us a quick story of Jesus.
+Jesus was purposely sent by God
– Both His birth and His life were not by accident. They were by Holy Design. Jesus came with a definite purpose to this earth. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
+Jesus was dedicated to sharing the Message of Peace
– Jesus shared the Good News; the Message of Peace. Jesus taught the way for a person to experience Peace with God, with themselves, with other human beings and with creation at large. Jesus shared the message of how mankind can be rescued from both the penalty and power of sin. Jesus shared how we can experience forgiveness and how we can experience what it means to be restored into the image of God and enjoy a life of agape love, joy and peace.
+Jesus is anointed with God’s Very Spirit
– In other words Jesus is the Messiah, the One whom God Anointed for the Children of Israel and for the whole world. Jesus is the Son of God and He is the Savior for all humankind.
+Jesus Performs all kinds of Good Works
– The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus preached, He taught and He undid the works of the Devil through His miracles, healings and exorcisms. Everywhere Jesus traveled He made it His mission to help people be more free, experience more love and joy and be able to live the Abundant Life that they were created to live.
+Jesus Died for Our Sins
- Jesus willing gave up His life on the Cross of Calvary to pay our sin debt. He willing gave His life so that we could be free from the power of sin. Jesus rescued us and made the way so that we could be redeemed and restored in the image of God.
+Jesus was raised from the dead
- On the third day Jesus came out of the Tomb Alive and Well in His New Glorified Body. Jesus is the Second Adam. Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
+Jesus is the way to Forgiveness and Everlasting Life.
In our passage, the Apostle Peter shares all of these wonderful truths in a very powerful way. He also includes some additional important truths:
+We are Jesus’ witnesses
– Peter of course means himself first. Peter came by holy design to share the message of Jesus. He is a witness of who Jesus was while He was on the earth and who Jesus is today sitting at the right hand of the Father making intercession for everyone who calls upon Him today.
+We are to share the message of Jesus
– I believe the Apostle Peter wants us to understand that we are to preach the message of Salvation with our lives and with our mouths. Both our actions and our words are to reflect a life that has been rescued and redeemed.
All of what we have read in this passage is the Truth. In fact, it is the Only Truth.
+The story of Jesus is Truth
+The story of His Life is Truth
+The story of Salvation and Redemption is Truth
With all of this in mind there is something that we must fully understand.
+We must understand that today the Devil is doing his best to tell the world that Jesus never existed.
+He is trying his best to tell the Church that even if they believe that Jesus existed and that He was a great teacher that does not mean that Jesus was the Son of God.
+The devil always lies to us and does his best to get us to see Jesus as either some type of delusional lunatic or liar.
+It is the Devil’s number one mission that we never see or experience Jesus as the Son of God, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
But we need to remind ourselves that Jesus is the Truth. That Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We need to remind ourselves that when we talk about Jesus there is nothing more important and vital.
It is great for us to be able to share small talk with other people. It is great for us to talk about the weather, about sports, shopping or something else. It is great for us to be able to do all those kinds of things but we also must be able to speak to someone about Jesus. We must be willing to be led by the Holy Spirit to share the message of Salvation.
For there is no story and no conversation that we can have with our families, with our friends and with others that is as life transforming as the Story of Jesus.
III. The Story of Jesus leads to Great Global Transformations
Notice how this story ended. It did not end with a whimper or with the thoughts of “that was nice”. It ended with a mighty movement of the LORD going from Cornelius’ house to around the globe.
Verse 46 tells us that as the Apostle Peter was sharing these things the Holy Spirit came in a miraculous way. The Holy Spirit fell upon, that is to say He anointed all those in Cornelius’ house that day.
What had happened earlier on the Day of Pentecost was repeated here in Cornelius’ house.
+All those listening to Peter and receiving the message of Jesus received forgiveness of all their sins and were filled with the Holy Spirit.
+They began to speak in supernatural tongues becoming mouthpieces for the Holy Spirit
+They were water baptized
+They began a life long journey of learning more and more about the LORD over the next few days
What makes this story so very important of course is the fact that people hearing the message that day and receiving such an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit were Gentiles.
For us today we may not think that this is such a big deal. We all know today that the Church was created for both Jews and Gentiles. But in that day, most Jews believed with all their hearts that the majority of Gentiles were created for only one purpose: so that Hell would have a population.
According to the religious rules of that day; Orthodox Jews were not permitted to eat with Gentiles, come into their homes or do have very much interaction with them. If they had to do business with Gentiles it was only because of necessity. For many orthodox Jews, Gentiles were no better than mangy stray dogs. Many saw Gentiles as exceedingly immoral and idolatrous to the point that they could never be spiritually rescued or redeemed.
So, this event; this story is not only important because it shares the Truth about Jesus, about salvation and everlasting life but because it reveals how the door was open for everyone all over the world to be included.
After this outpouring of the Holy Spirit the door for all people, Jew and Gentile was fully opened. After this outpouring of the Holy Spirit we see Peter and later Paul going to preach to the Gentiles and in a matter of a few years there would be more Gentiles in the Church than Jews.
That is still true today.
Today there are over 2 billion people who call Jesus their Savior and Lord. At the same time there are less than 15 million Jews in the whole world.
Had the Early Church closed its doors to the world of Gentiles think about where it would be today. Couple all of that with the fact that less than 500,000 Jews currently living believe that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world.
2 billion followers versus 500,000 followers.
Jesus did not come for just the Jews. He came for both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus’ mission was for everyone; every boy, girl, woman and man. He came to save all mankind. He created us and wants to redeem us and if we accept His love, grace and mercy then we will experience everlasting life with everyone else that accepts Him as Savior and LORD.
This story is our story today. We who are sitting here begin our story with the House of Cornelius. We who are sitting here today are recipients of God’s favor and blessing bestowed upon the entire human race.
This is why this story of Cornelius is so important. It is a story that shows how the world came to understand that Jesus of Nazareth is their Savior and Lord. It is a story that shows the world that there is no division between Jew and Gentile. It is a story that shows us that we are to reach out to everyone we possibly can.
Today, we find ourselves in a much divided world. A world that is divided on racial grounds, on gender identity grounds, on political grounds and on social grounds. We live in a world that pushes back on the idea of any Absolute truths and values. We live in a world that seeks to make itself its own god.
We live a world that needs the message of Jesus. We live in a world that needs us to share the message that in Jesus:
+There is Truth
+There is Salvation
+There is the way to live the Abundant Life
+There is Unity
The same Holy Spirit that fell upon those in Cornelius’ house is the same Holy Spirit that desires to lead the Church today and that desires to live inside all of us. The same Holy Spirit that led our story from beginning to end wants to be a part of our story.
The Church that we find in Acts 10 is different than the Church we find in Acts 9. The Church in Acts 10 has adopted Jesus’ full mission. It is a Church that forever will open its doors to those many thought unreachable and unredeemable. It is a Church that forever will focus on sharing the message of Jesus with all others. It is a Church that forever understands that when it shares Jesus it is inviting God’s Presence to come in an amazing ways.
Which Church do we want to be?
Do we want to be a group of people who just learn and know things for knowledge sake?
Do we just want to fill our heads with Biblical knowledge spending our time discussing things over and over and every now and then do a bit of spiritual naval gazing?
Or do we want to learn, understand and experience God in wonderfully new ways?
Do we want to invite the Holy Spirit to come in and direct, guide and transform us in ways that make a difference in the way we think and act?
Do we want to experience all that we see here in Acts 10 – insight, revelations, new ways of thinking, new ways of reaching people for Jesus and experiencing God’s Holy Spirit?
Do we want to be an evangelistic Church?
Do we want to be a soul winning Church?
I believe if that is our focus then our future will always be bright.
I believe this morning we are being called to share the message of Jesus in similar ways that the Apostle Peter did.
I believe all of that will happen when we are open to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, minds and souls this morning.
Sharing the Lord’s Supper/invitation/blessing