Summary: Do we maintain a godly lifestyle even in the midst of ungodly environments? Are we like Cornelius? We can be.
Something Good Is About to Happen
1. Many of you know that I am a big fan of Al Jolson. Did you know how I became a Jolson fan? It started with Ted Martin’s dad, Danny Martin…
2. Jolson - first superstar. First man to sell a million records. The man who was billed as "The World’s Greatest Entertainer," the man who had the rude nature and nerve to say, after follow Enrico Carusso on stage, "Wait a minute folks, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet."
3. Jolson made his first hit record in 1911, and was America’s most famous singing personality throughout the rest of the 1910’s and 20’s.
4. So when it came to invest in making the first talking movie -- quite an expensive proposition -- the movie’s producers chose the best of the best to be the star, Al Jolson. He made the "Jazz Singer" in 1927.
5. This is the same sort of pattern we see God following in Acts, only God was first.
6. To make the transition toward recognizing believing gentiles as equal members in the church, God began with an unusually godly gentile, a best case scenario.
7. And who did God choose to be the proto-type gentile, the first gentile received into the church without first becoming a Jew? He chose from among the best -- one of the godliest gentiles around, a man named Cornelius.
8. Big issue here is not so much salvation -- though it involves salvation -- but inclusion in the church. Would gentile believers be considered equal to Jewish believers?
Main Idea: Do we maintain a godly lifestyle even in the midst of ungodly environments? Are we like Cornelius? We can be.
I. Cornelius: GODLY Man in An Ungodly Environment (1-3a)
A Pagan could become > An Alien Believer > A God-fearer > A Jew (proselyte)
A pagan would be an idolater or worship many gods, or one not serving the true God.
An alien believer would be a gentile who wanted to be saved, repented from his sins and turned to the God of Israel in faith; he was expected to abide by the Noahide commands
A God-fearer was an alien believer who also observed the Sabbath, abided by the dietary laws of Israel, and participated in synagogue training and worship.
A Jewish convert (proselyte) to Judaism was a God-fearer who submitted to circumcision and was immersed (baptized). He would be expected to have sacrifices offered in the Temple and pay the Temple tax.
The Noahide commands deduced from the Covenant with Noah and all mankind after the flood (Genesis 9). The Rabbis stretched the text to imply the following standards: (1) no idolatry, (2) no incest/adultery, (3) no murder, (4) no blasphemy (profaning God’s Name), (5) no theft, (6) justice toward others, and (7) no eating flesh with blood in it and/or cutting off flesh from a living animal.
[Source for above, The Enduring Paradox: Exploratory Essays in Messianic Judaism by Dr. John Fischer, editor, pp. 176-178].
We can note a similar God-fearing gentile in Luke 7:1-5, "When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, "This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue."
A. A Roman who was a leader in the Roman MILITARY (1)
B. The ITALIAN Regiment: most loyal to Rome (1)
C. A God-Fearing GENTILE (2)
• φοβου’μενοσ "fearing" fear of displeasing God or making Him look bad
D. A God-Fearing FAMILY (2)
E. He GAVE and PRAYED faithfully (2)
Do we maintain a godly lifestyle even in the midst of ungodly environments? Are we like Cornelius? We can be.
II. God Would BLESS Cornelius Because He Was Pleased With Him (3b-6)
A. He has a vision of an ANGEL (3b)
B. God was pleased by his PRAYERS and Generosity (4)
The Mishna says that whoever possesses the three characteristics of a good eye, a lowly spirit, and a humble soul is a disciple of our father Abraham; while one who has the three opposite characteristics is a disciple of the wicked Balaam (Avot 5:22).
Arthur Green, Sefat Emet, The Language of Truth, The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1998. 257
C. God gives him INSTRUCTIONS to fetch Peter (5)
Was Cornelius already saved? Acts 11:14 might imply "no," but, then again, this is a time of transition. I think so.
I am the webmaster for the Camp Emmanuel website. It is hosted for free; ads pay for it. Now, they are closing that site and setting things up so that I can "migrate" the files to another free site. I believe that Cornelius was being migrated from salvation by grace through faith in the OT promises to salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.