Summary: a tremendous change in the dealings of God with man occurred when the Gentile became a part of the church.
The Centurion experiencing the change.
Acts 11:1 -- 18. 01/28/04
Folks I don’t know if you have noticed it but a tremendous change in the dealings of God with man occurred when the Gentile became a part of the church. Before that, the blessings of God had been almost exclusively Jewish. The Jews were God’s chosen people. They had many spiritual privileges that Gentile did not have. The apostle Paul mentions the advantages in the book of Roman’s chapter 3.
Now unfortunately, the Jews prided themselves in being exclusive and it became sin. The Gentiles were considered dogs. Often times Gentile and sinners were mentioned in the same sentence. The Gentile was considered so much an outcast that the Jews thought they were outside the interest of God. Now the members of the church who were Christians were not as uncharitable in their view as was the ungodly Jews. But pretty much all the Jews viewed the Gentile as excluded from the blessing of the gospel.
All this would change shortly after the early church commenced and Peter would be in the forefront of the change. Although Peter was considered the apostle to the Jews and Paul to the Gentile, it would be Peter who was chosen of God to spearhead the change.
Tonight we want to study the change and Peter’s involvement in the change.
The Revelation Peter received from God about this great change involved a Gentile by the name of Cornelius. Cornelius was a centurion in the Roman army. Both Peter and Cornelius received visions from God a day apart that resulted in Peter visiting the Centurion to proclaim the gospel to he and his family.
We want to look first of all at THE VISION IN CAESAREA.
Now Cornelius was no ordinary man. He was a centurion that meant he was in charge of 100 Roman soldiers stationed in Caesarea. The City had been built by Herod the great in honor of Caesar and it was an important political city where the soldiers would have important guard deities.
The Bible also says that Cornelius was a devout man. That was unusual for a military man although there are some. I am especially grateful that I met one in the Marines. We are still the best of friends. I am as close to him as I think I would be a brother.
Cornelius led his family to fear God and have devotions. Cornelius was a praying soldier. It seems that his character was outstanding and rare. But Cornelius was not saved. But through prayer and giving, God gave him information regarding salvation. God said send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon who is Peter, and he will tell you what you need to do.
Listen! As we can see in the Bible, here is a man who is moral, upright, attending church, supporting charities, praying and was not saved. Only Jesus can save.
There is something else I want you to see here. The angel that spoke to Cornelius could have told him the way of salvation but God has given that work to men not to Angeles.
We see not only the vision in Caesarea but also THE VISION IN JOPPA.
While the men sent by Cornelius were on their way to see Peter, Peter had a vision in Joppa to prepare him for the task before him.
Peter went upon the housetop to pray and we are told the time. Evidently it was about mealtime and Peter was hungry and while the meal was being prepared, Peter fail into a trance.
Peter was given a scene that was repeated three times. It consisted of a certain vessel like unto a sheet let down from heaven to the earth. All manner of four footed beast and creeping things and fouls of the air were on the sheet or vessel. These animals that were let down were forbidden by law for the Jews to eat. But a voice told Peter rise, kill and eat. But he said he had eaten nothing that was unclean. The voice said what God has cleaned, do not call common or unclean.
Now Peter did not catch on to what God was trying to tell him quickly. Three times the scene was repeated for Peter not God. God is neither senile nor forgetful. He did it for the importance of it. Peter was calling unclean what God has cleaned.
Peter is about to get the meaning of the vision. While Peter was thinking on the vision, God said there are three men who seek you. And that leads us to the last point.
We have looked at the vision in Caesarea and the vision in Joppa, now we want to see THE VISIT IN CAESAREA.
The messengers spent the night in the same house Peter was staying. The next day Peter and the messengers along with certain brethren who accompanied the great left. These six that were going to accompany Peter were going to witness something that they would not forget soon.