Summary: CORNELIUS WAS A GOOD MAN, A GOD-FEARING MAN, A GENEROUS MAN, A PRAYING MAN, BUT NOT A SAVED MAN...YET! [GOOD HURRICANE ILLUSTRATION AND MISSIONS APPLICATION] Powerpoint at website.
The Salvation of the Gentiles, pt. 1
“The Searching Soldier”
It’s now about 10 years after the day of Pentecost, and though the early church has made great strides and reached a lot of people, they are making no efforts to reach the Gentiles.
Those 3k saved at Pentecost…all Jews.
5k a couple chapters later…all Jews.
Why weren’t they trying to reach others? Prejudice! It’s true, they had been raised as a very exclusive group, but Jesus came to break down those walls of division, and yet most Jews still hated Gentiles, and thought of them as a lower life form!
They felt it was defilement to be w/, eat w/, talk to a Gentile…when returning from a Gentile city, they would stop and take off their sandals and knock them together to get the Gentile dust off!
And they wouldn’t eat Gentile foods or any food prepared by one…it wasn’t “Kosher”.
This wasn’t just a cultural barrier, this was a brick wall…but a wall that God said had to come down!
He had said in
Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
That included the Gentiles!
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
That included the Gentiles!
And if the rest of the world was to ever have a chance of being saved, this wall would have to come down, and it did in Acts 10…and you and I should be very thankful that it did!
Chances are, you and I wouldn’t be sitting in this room if not for this occurrence!
It all started with a searching Gentile soldier. [Cornelius]
It involved a soul-winning gospel servant. [Peter]
It involved a surprising Gentile salvation.
First point today…
v. 1-2 Centurion commanded 100 men in Roman army. They were fearless, steady men of backbone, prepared to die for their country.
v. 2 makes it clear he was more than a good soldier… he was a very good man…pointing out the fact that a person can be very moral, and quite religious, and still not be saved!
1. He was a Good man. [devout]
Means he had turned away from paganism and idol worship, which was rampant in the Roman Empire. He hadn’t been converted to Judaism, but was a step closer to it.
Ex.—many in that culture would worship Aphrodite, the goddess of sex, aka-Venus. They had a temple dedicated to her, and worshippers there indulged in all kinds of licentious, perverted sexual practices. It was gross immorality, and Cornelius had turned his back on all of that…he knew that was wrong. He was devout.
Some here are worse off than Cornelius…you still bow down and worship the god of sex. You’re farther away from salvation than Cornelius was, and you’re not seriously wanting to be free from it. Or maybe you would profess to be saved, and if you truly are saved then you’re like Lot, vexing your righteous soul, grieving the Holy Spirit within you!
So you worship the god of sex on TV, and the internet, and your eyes browse around people you see in public, and your thought life is like a meditation…a worship time, of the god called sex. You’re bound to act on it eventually, tho’ God already considers you to be acting on it!
Cornelius knew better…he was a devout man.
Another pagan religion of those days was the worshipping of the goddess Diana [Acts 19].
Her massive temple was a wonder of the ancient world. Silversmiths would make little idols of Diana and made a lot of money doing so.
But God said not to worship any graven image, and Cornelius knew that and believed that…he was a devout man.
Some here today are further from salvation than Cornelius. You may not worship statues…you prefer to worship pictures of Presidents…money!
Here’s how you can tell if you worship money:
• You don’t mind lying to get more of it. [cheating]
• You don’t mind gambling to get more of it.
• You don’t mind spending it frivolously.
• You don’t mind spending money you don’t have.
• You don’t mind spending God’s money.
A “God” is something we give priority to, and many of us have our financial priorities all out of whack and we spend God’s tithe on a car or truck, or to have more house than we can afford, or on past credit mistakes or medical expenses, and then wonder why we can’t ever seem to get our head above water! We get behind on God when we’re away or have unexpected bills, and never make it up to the God that we say we are worshipping!