Summary: Every Christian has a responsibility to do good for the sake of the Kingdom.
Acts 10:38 KJV How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Matthew 5:16 KJV Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
I. THE BACKGROUND OF THE TEXT
-This verse picks up in the sermon that Peter is preaching to Cornelius and is a key to his conversion. Peter has some things to contend with when he preaches Jesus Christ to this centurion of the Roman army.
-At this point in history, Rome is in charge of the then known world. Everything about Rome was formed in excellence and extravagance.
• Its public buildings that showcased architecture.
• Its huge temples that promoted idolatry.
• It’s lavish public baths that promoted sexual immorality.
• Its entertaining shows that encouraged hedonism.
• It’s large army that spoke of military prowess.
• It’s political machinery that held up democracy for the rest of the world to see.
-There was nothing that compared to Rome at the time. There was something about just going to that great city that would impress even the harshest of critics. But there was one thing that seemed to be missing in all of Rome’s majesty—it was a world without love.
-Rome was full of want, suffering, and debauchery. There were no social or political movements that could fill this giant void.
-Certainly there were efforts to relieve suffering and occasionally the government would give things to the needy. Periodically the orators who commanded the language with excellence would break down and give some money to help some cause but by and large, there was little that was done in Rome simply to help others.
-One man named Severus established a school for young men but their main object really was to promote a place where they could be recruited by the army.
-Plato, the famous philosopher, wrote that the ideal state had no room for the poor and that beggars should be expelled or left to die.
-Aristotle, another famous philosopher, might have had some virtuous leanings but it turned out that the generosity he encouraged was really to promote more greed and extravagance on those who were helping.
B. Why Rome Fell
-Cornelius and those men who he was in charge of were aware of this glaring defect in Roman society. If you want to get a real idea of what Rome really looked like from the standpoint of the spiritual nature and moral tones, read Romans 1 and you will get a good idea of what things were in Rome.
-The Roman citizens watched the limited welfare program at work and began to hate and loathe work. They were only interested in the ease and enjoyment they would pull from their rulers. This leaning toward leisure brought a great indifference to them when they looked on those with real needs.
-They became consumed with the capacity for immediate and large self-gratification. Maybe our time might say they were “living large.”
-Love and concern always looks for the sore places in the world of the destitute. It will be discriminating in what actions it takes and yet when love does lead a man to do something, the recipients receive much sympathy.
-Edward Gibbon who is famous for having written the six-volume work called Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire noted five reasons for the fall of Rome:
• Rapid increase of divorce, with the undermining of the sanctity of the home, which is the basis of society.
• Higher and higher taxes; the spending of money for bread and celebrations.
• The mad craze for pleasure, sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.
• The building of gigantic armaments, when the real enemy was within; the decadence of the people.
• The decay of religion; faith fading into mere form, losing touch with life, and becoming unable to guide it.
-If there were any who were going about doing good it was because they were doing so because it was a fine thing to do, not necessarily from a sense of duty or a love for others.
C. Jesus, Who Went About Doing Good
-Peter comes along and preaches a Jesus Christ who goes about doing good. His actions are literally changing the world for the better. I can imagine that for a moment, this looked very foolish in the human reasoning of Cornelius.
-How could a Man who had no real pedigree, no monetary resources, and no important followers do so much in the face of Roman culture? He would have appeared to have been terribly inadequate in what He was attempting to do.