Summary: Acts 10 is a pivotal chapter in Scripture. From this point on the church exploded in growth. In this story there are 3 groups of people who were "surprised" by what they saw. Why were they surprised, and what difference does that mean to us?
(Before reading the Scripture I noted that Acts 10 is a pivotal chapter in Scripture. It was after this event at Cornelius’ house that the Church exploded with growth and numerous churches were set up throughout the known world).
(After the Scripture reading and prayer, we showed the following clip from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZLui9Mtr4w&index=4&list=PL32F0A78DC1866504
Begining at time stamp 0.21 and go till 1.45).
I’ve done my research and I discovered that people Really Do Win Prizes in these Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. The good news is that they are legitimate. The bad news is that it is REALLY hard to win the prizes. The giveaways are so famous and so many people enter them that the odds of winning are astronomical.
For example, their $10 Million Giveaway which ended in 2008, offered odds were ten times worse than the odds of hitting a Powerball jackpot. But of course, the advantage is… you don’t have to gamble to win. You simply sigh up. A lot.
What I wanted you to observe from that video clip was how this woman reacted. How did she respond to this sudden gift of $10,000? SHE WAS SURPRISED. And WHY was she surprised? Because she didn’t really expect to win. She’d been entering the contest for years, but the only reason she walked out to parking lot that day was because her boss told her something wrong with her car. It was not a normal thing for her to leave work and get a check for several $1000.
Now hold that thought.
This is the last in our series of sermons called “Thy Kingdom Come”. We’ve looked at the 1st few chapters of Acts from the perspective of Jesus’ promise “Upon this rock I WILL BUILD My church.” (Matthew 16:18) Now I’m sure that the early Christians did many things that helped the church to grow, but each chapter we’ve studied from Acts has shown how Jesus built His church. We’ve looked at His power and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now, let’s revisit the story in Acts 10 for a minute. The Church has been in existence for about 3 to 4 years now, and up until this point you could count one thing: every Christian in the church had been a Jew. That meant that every man who believed and was baptized into Christ was a circumcised believer.
Do I have to explain circumcision to you? No? Good, because I really didn’t want to have to do that.
So every new Christian man in the church (up to this point) was a circumcised Jew. And that’s just how things were… up until now. NOW God was switching gears. God’s plan had always been to open the gates for Gentiles to become Christians and now He was setting that plan into motion.
Now, you’d have thought that if God wanted to do something like this that it wouldn’t have been all that hard to do. I mean, He is God after all. But there’s a small fly in the ointment: the Jews despised Gentiles. They wanted nothing to do with them. The Jews referred to the Gentiles as “dogs" (This was NOT an affectionate term – it was an insult). They wouldn’t sit down to eat with them, they wouldn’t spend the night in a Gentile home, and they wouldn’t buy anything from them unless they had to. But if they ever did have to buy something from a Gentile merchant, they would take the item home and wash the filth of that Gentile dog from that item before they ever used it.
And just calling them Gentile dogs wasn’t enough. They had a worse insult. They called them… “uncircumcised.”
That’s just the way things were. But now, (here in Acts 10) God was going to ask the early church - made up of good JEWISH Christians - to allow these “uncircumcised” Gentile dogs to be part of HIS church. And that wasn’t going to be an easy sell. So how was God going to do that? How was He going to sell this idea to Jewish Believers?
Well, 1st He chose a man, who everybody liked, to be His test case. He chose a Gentile that even good Jews found admirable – a man named Cornelius, a prominent leader in the Roman army. Scripture tells us he was “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:2). Now, how can you not like a guy like that???
Then God had to find just the right man to preach the first message to these Gentiles. And do you know who He chose? He chose the most stubborn, mule-headed, obstinate, messenger that He could find. And who was that? He chose PETER! Why Peter? Because if anybody was going to fight this idea and deny the Gentiles admission into the Kingdom of God… it’d have been Peter. In fact, Peter was so hard to convince, that God had to give him the SAME DREAM three separate times - and each time God ended the dream by saying: “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Acts 10:15