Summary: close look at Cornelius the centurion
What A Person Might Be And Yet Still Be Lost
Cornelius was the most revered deacon of his church, and chairman of most of his church’s committees. Each Sunday he was found in his church, and each weekday he lived a life worthy of much respect. He was of noblest generosity. He was a target for every needy organization. He was a man of integrity; he was an important member of the town council He was a very desirable friend. He was known and regarded by the highest officials in the nation, and his name was often mentioned in the society columns of the newspapers. He was certain of election to the senate.
Wait a minute, let me apologize. My mistake is inexcusable, my verb tenses have been confused. I should have said that Cornelius would have become such a man if he had belonged to our generation.
As we look at our text, we see this model citizen. He is a good man! He is a God-fearing man! He is a gracious man! But He is still a lost man!
His name is Cornelius. He is a Roman Centurion, one who has charge of 100 men. He was of the Italian Band, a regiment of the Roman army made up of from four hundred to six hundred soldiers, composed mostly of men from Italy. I read this week that the great strengths of the Roman army lay in its officers. Centurions were subjected to many searching test before they were given command of soldiers, and the two critical tests that were used concerned their character.
Centurions had to be patient, slow to anger, slow to get involved in fights. They also were required to be men of great courage and endurance who would rather die than face defeat or quit the field.
Cornelius possessed some traits that all of us who believe ought to possess, yet He was lost!
Can a man be all the things mentioned in verse 2 and yet be lost?
Yes, Jesus said in John 3:3, 5 "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
I. Cornelius was good; but he still was lost.
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius a
devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always " (Acts 10: 1).
Cornelius was a Roman soldier who served under Herod Agrippa. He was a centurion, which means that he had one hundred men under his command.
Cornelius was a man who regularly studied the Scriptures and daily presided at morning and evening family prayers. His sincerity was indisputable, and his influence extended throughout the town. He had few equals: yet in the sight of God he was unsaved. He was certainly good according to moral standards, but he was not a Christian.
When his servants were informing Simon Peter of the reason why they came, they affirmed that their master had been warned by God to send to Peter for help. And when, later, Peter explains his conduct to the apostles, he stated that God had declared, "Peter shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved " (I I : 14).
Good works plus a sincere religious belief are not sufficient to guarantee a man’s salvation.
I want to look at three things about this very fine person named Cornelius
A. Notice his fear (verse 1, 22)
Though he did not know God as his personal Saviour, there was a fear of God in his heart.
Cornelius was a deeply religious man. H knew there was a God; however, to take hold of this God he knew not how.
Because he feared God I would like to suggest to you based on Psalm 19:9 that he was clean morally. “The fear of the Lord is clean.”
B. Notice his family (“feared God with all his house”)
Though he was not saved, he had instructed his family to fear God. Cornelius is a good example to us fathers. He is teaching respect for God to his family.
C. Notice his fervor (“gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always.”)
Cornelius was generous in his acts of charity towards the poor and needy. Cornelius was a generous man. He was not stingy.
He also had a disciplined devotional life ans manifested in his regular praying to the God he did not know. Cornelius was a model of religious respectability, and yet he was lost. His prayer life wold put most of us to shame.