Summary: To establish that all good people will be saved only as a result of their faith and obedience to God. Cornelius’ religious piety and righteousness did not save him. He had to hear, believe and obey the gospel of Christ.
1. Cornelius’ Character
2. Cornelius’ Commendation
3. Cornelius’ Conversion
1. In this gathering we will discuss the theme: “Will all good people be saved?” It is not our purpose to deny anyone entrance into the kingdom of God. However, God has terms of pardon; one must obey before they can be saved. Unfortunately, God’s terms differs from the conditions that men impose upon sincere believers in God. We will point some of these out as we deal with the conversion of Cornelius and his household. I might add, to obtain a clear understanding of New Testament conversions; one must read and understand the Book of Acts.
2. First, we will consider the character of Cornelius. He was a devout man, one who feared God with his entire house, gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. I would suggest that although these are all noble qualities, they in themselves did not grant him salvation. According to the messenger, he needed to hear words: “Whereby he and his entire house might be saved.” These words are the gospel of Christ.
3. Secondly, we will notice the angel’s words of commendation. I must state, one cannot be called to salvation outside of the gospel of Christ. One cannot be saved by just hearing a word; it must be the word that God has ordained for men to be saved. God has put this message in “human or earthen vessels” and not within any heavenly host (angels). The angel in our lesson merely told the man where to find the preacher, who when he came, he would: “Tell him words whereby he and his entire house could be saved.” A far contrast from what many today claim regarding their encounters with angels and other heavenly beings.
4. Lastly, we will analyze the conversion of Cornelius. Luke clearly reveals how he and his household gained entrance into the kingdom of God. After hearing the words from God, he and his entire house obeyed the gospel of Christ. We will notice first his character.
BODY OF LESSON
I CORNELIUS’ CHARACTER
A. Cornelius a “devout man.” Luke describes Cornelius as a good man. Though a Gentile he was a man of great devotion and love for God. It was men of this caliber that was assembled on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem.
1. Luke writes: “And there was dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven,” Acts 2:5. Devout man: “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house; and he prayed to God always,” Acts 10:2. This is the same root word found in Acts 2:5. Let’s notice a few things about this word. Notice:
a. First, there were a great number of “devout” men assembled in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. The word, “devout” in Gr., is eusebes, yoo-seb-ace'; which means, “well-reverent, i.e. pious:—devout, godly.”
b. Further, he was one that truly reverenced God. He was a pious and dutiful person (a worker of righteousness). There are many “good people” like Cornelius in this community. Some are in this building today/tonight.
c. Next, he and his entire household feared and reverenced God. There are people in this community that have a “good and honest heart,” Luke 8:15. They are seeking the Lord: “Though He is not far from any one of us,” Acts 17:27.
d. Illustrate: The Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4-15. Jesus speaks of the “good and honest heart” in His discussion of the four kind of soil (hearts). The sower sowed the seed (the word of God) into four types of hearts. The seed fell into “the wayside, rocky, thorny and good ground.”
2. Solomon says: “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, But a man of wicked intentions he will condemn,” Proverbs 12:2. David: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way,” Psalms 37:23.
B. He was one who feared God with his entire house. Cornelius was a man that reverenced God; he and his entire house. He was seeking salvation for himself and his family. Why are you here tonight? Are you seeking salvation for yourself and your family? Notice:
1. First, Solomon says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction,” Proverbs 1:7.
2. Further, he writes: “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility,” Proverbs 15:33. This word - conveys a reverence for God and his commandments.
3. Finally, David says: “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord that delighteth greatly in his commandments,” Psalms 112:1.