Summary: The reception of Peter’s sermon to the household of Cornelius is an illustration of how we should be involved in listening to the sermon.
A Study of the Book of Acts
Sermon # 21
The Art of Really Listening
You will remember that in our last study of the Book of Acts we left Peter as he had arrived at the house of Cornelius. At Caesarea they met Cornelius and those whom he had gathered to hear Peter’s message. It would be wonderful if every preacher, when he stood up to preach, should find the receptive that Peter found gathered in the house of Cornelius. Cornelius had been prepared by God, and Peter had been prepared by God. But they were not the only ones who had been prepared. Cornelius had prepared his whole household, and now they were anxiously waiting to hear from Peter. God had prepared Cornelius, the preacher and Peter and the audience.
“And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. (25) As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. (26) But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” (27) And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. (28) Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. (29) Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” (30) So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, (31) and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. (32) Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ (33) So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” (34) Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. (35) But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (36) The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— (37) that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: (38) how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (39) And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. (40) Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, (41) not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. (42) And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. (43) To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (44) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. (45) And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. (46) For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, (47) “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.”(NKJV)
I. THE PREPARATION OF PETER
Peter has received a vision from the Lord that has opened his eyes about his prejudicial view concerning the Gentiles. It was God who opened his eyes that he should not deem anyone as beyond reach by the Gospel. God gave new truth to Peter and then gave him an opportunity to act on what he had learned. Just as his vision is over the couriers arrive from Cornelius requesting him to come to Caesarea.