Acts 10: Salvation in every nation
Dylan continues the Acts Series with a focus on Acts 10. This sermon explores how Jesus brought salvation to every nation, not just the Jews, and how God used Peter and a gentile named Cornelius to further the spread of the Gospel. Through this incredible story, we will see how God breaks down barriers and calls us to reach out to people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.
Good morning church. it's good I'm glad that you're able to be here this morning I'm excited to be here this morning because isn't it amazing together is God's people to hear from his word and I'm sure it's already up there I'm sure that you'll all be aware that we're going through our ax Series in the morning service and so this morning we're going to continue on with that but before we do I just want to bring to the surface something that has been underlying our journey so far right it's something prevalent throughout all of Acts it's something which we need to address and that is that contextually there is a large separation there's a large cultural division occurring in what we're reading and what does that mean it means that when acts Was Written In the period that we're talking about there's this cultural division between Jews who are God's chosen people God's holy people and gentiles who are Unholy ceremony unclean there's this division there's this divide culturally whereby the Jews have been given God's law they're living under Jewish law which controls what they eat how they do what they how they act and then you've got the Gentiles who aren't living under this law they're they're doing their own thing and so there's this mentality whereby the Jews are God's people and that's still true today the Jews are God's people and the Gentiles well they're just everyone else and this separate this separation this divide was so huge that it was unlawful for Jewish people to go into the house of Gentiles to spend time with them to eat with them to do this this is the Divide which we're talking about and although it's not perfect I want to draw a slight parallel for us today because I don't know whether you're like me I've never once woken up and gone man the Jewish Gentile divides just really prevalent today I've never had that thought come through in my mind but as I was reflecting on this and as I said it's it's not a perfect parallel but I want you to ponder the parallel that if the Jews were God's holy chosen people right and the Gentiles were the Unholy the unclean not God's people then today too we can kind of find ourselves in just as big a cultural separation a cultural difference whereby we consider ourselves Christians God's holy chosen people and non-christians who are still sinful still Unholy still all of that and I just want you to ponder these thoughts as we continue through acts 10 because the parallel works and so if you've got your Bibles there please do turn to acts 10 but before we read would you join me in prayer Heavenly Father we thank you for your word Lord we thank you for the instruction which you give us through it and Lord we pray now that as we read through your word as we unpack these ideas Lord would you be speaking to each of us individually would you be speaking to our hearts Lord God and showing us how we're to respond to you this morning we pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen acts 10 we get to look at the character of Peter right and Peter's not a new character in The Bible we've been flicking through acts there's been quite a few Christian people that we're looking at doing amazing things but this is the same Peter Simon Peter that was a disciple of Jesus Christ right the same Peter who did Ministry with Jesus the Same Peter who saw Christ hanging on a cross for the sins of humanity who saw Christ resurrected from the dead who was there he heard firsthand the instructions of Jesus before he ascended into heaven the same instructions that as Christians here this morning we have from Jesus Peter heard the instructions go therefore and make disciples baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and we see that Peter he's been doing this right he's been going out he's been traveling from town to town preaching the gospel right he's been going through led by the holy spirit filled by the Holy Spirit he's been led to perform miraculous healings but at every step of the way he gives the glory to God he says it's Jesus Christ who heals you it's it's Peter presenting the gospel and we see at the tail end of chapter nine two very distinct stories of Peter obediently living out this commandment and everyone who saw what he had done everyone who heard the gospel that he was preaching put their faith in the Lord and were saved and so it's out of this context that we come to chapter 10 this morning verses one to eight says this at this area there was a man named Cornelius a centurion of what was known as the Italian cohort a devout man who feared God with all his household gave alms generously to the people and prayed continually to God about the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him Cornelius and he stared at him in Terror and said what is it Lord and he said to him your prayers and your arms have ascended as a memorial before God and now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter he is lodging with one Simon a Tanner whose house is by the sea when the angel who spoke to him had departed he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him and having related everything to them he sent them to Joppa and so what's going on here remember this divide which I said we've got Jews and we've got Gentiles well Cornelius he falls into the Gentile category right we're told that he was an official of the Roman army keeping in mind that this is the same Roman army that was oppressing the Jews and so at a first glance he wouldn't have been very popular amongst the Jewish people right he was high up in the Roman army and yet there's something different about Cornelius God is at work in cornelius's life because we're also told that he was a god fearer while he was a gentile he was a god-fearer what does that mean it means that Cornelius was sympathetic and supportive of the Jewish faith so while he didn't fall under well he didn't adhere to the Customs the laws the practices of the Jewish people so it couldn't be counted as a Jew he was sympathetic he gave generously to those who needed it he prayed continually we're told God was at work in his life and it's during one of these prayer times that through a vision God sends an angel and says Cornelius you need to go and get Peter this is exactly where he is they didn't have tracking back then God just knew and then we get the flip side of Cornelius is being told to go get this Pita fella right and Peter disciple of Jesus very much a Jew right had grown up from birth under the Jewish law was a part of God's holy chosen people knew how to stay under the law to make sure that he was clean to perform ceremonies to be a part of what he needed to do and yet we see that through the description of where Peter is that God's also working in Peter's life right we're told that he's with a Simon etana whose house is by the Sea and we might read that and go wow Peter's done it rough he's got sea views but there's a little bit more in it than that see Peter was staying with a Tanner by a very definition of his job working with dead animal skins working with leather that made Simon the tenor unclean his house was by the Sea because he wasn't allowed to be in the city and so we see that God is at work in Peter's life making him less concerned about true Jewish traditions and ceremonial Notions see Peter isn't just passing by he stays with an unclean Jew he he stays there making himself unclean and so we see that both Jew and Gentile God is at work and I just want you to take that parallel which I pulled forward earlier Christian and non-Christian we can we can stand here this morning we've already declared how good God is right we can see that God is at work in our lives and that's fantastic but I want to remind us all that there was a point in our lives where we weren't saved there was a point in our lives where we hadn't made that decision to make Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior and yet when you think back to that even in hindsight you can see that God was at work in your life and so if that's true for us then surely it has to be true that God isn't restricted to only being a work in Christian lives but God is at work both in our lives and in the lives of non-christians and we continue on we read verses 9 to 16 we get a glimpse into what was happening for Peter and it says this the next day as they were on the way the people that Cornelius sent on on their journey and approaching the city Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray and he became hungry and wanted something to eat but while they were preparing it he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened in something like a great sheet descending being let down by its Four Corners upon the Earth and it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air and there came a voice to him rise Peter kill and eat but Peter said by no means Lord for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean and the voice came to him a second time what God has made clean do not call Common this happened three times and the thing was taken up at once to heaven now I don't know about you but if that happened to me I would be confused I would be amazed I wouldn't know how to process what I'm feeling and we're told here that Peter is just going to get a snack right he's going to get food and all of a sudden he falls into a trance God pulls down a blanket from heaven with all different types of animals on it remembering that under Jewish law there were clean and unclean animals for Peter to eat and so when God says kill and eat Peter gives a very normal response right he gives the response we can expect him to give he says surely not he says Lord I've never eaten anything that is common I've never eaten anything that is unclean that seems normal right because he's living under Jewish law the law which God gave that hey these are the animals you can and can't eat Peter's response is normal and yet God says do not call Common what God has made clean he says these words and it's no wonder that I'll summarize the the next couple verses it's no wonder that Pete is perplexed by this right everything that he's known from a child has just been changed all of a sudden God says what I've called clean don't call Common and so we see Peter's confused God has emphasized this not once not twice but three times that kind of shows us that it was important for Peter to understand and so he's there wrestling with it he didn't just go that's confusing I'll leave that until I figure it out we're told that Peter was pondering this vision he was pondering what it was that God was telling him through this and as he's doing this as he's in this process of pondering the spirit comes to him again and says behold three men are looking for you rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation for I have sent them and so here's here's Peter he goes down he goes to the gate at this time the two servants and the one guard sent from Cornelius all Gentiles Rock up at the gate and Peter says these words he says I'm the one you are looking for what is your reason for coming because you see Peter would have walked after them and immediately gone hey these guys are gentiles there's that divide he's going these guys are Gentiles I'm not supposed to be doing much with them and yet he knows that the spirit said go and accompany them without hesitation for I have sent them and so Peter grasping this grasping that he needs to be obedient to the spirit invites them in they they stay there the night and then they go off Peter Journeys with them to Cornelius I've talked about this divide and the the reason that I bring this up is because see what's happening here is Peter is relating with gentiles right he's relating with them he's inviting them into the place where he's staying he's willingly going to their home to be with them and as I'm thinking about this I started to ponder well if Jew and Gentile Christian and non-Christian how often do we go in and meet with non-christians see I think that there's a danger where we can fall into the thinking that Christ is for Christians that statement rolls off the tongue it kind of sounds true Christ is for Christians we're here this morning most of us Christians if you're not somewhat open to it and so we go yeah at church I'll happily tell you about my faith I'll happily talk about what God's doing in my life but on Monday I'm kind of gonna disassociate that a little bit see these people that I work with or these people in the street they don't necessarily want to hear about Christ because if they did they'd come to church they don't necessarily want to hear this because Christ is for Christians but the reality is that statement is deeply flawed we can't be thinking like that church we we read in verses sorry 23 23. and 24 and on the following day they entered caesarea Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends see Cornelius who had been led by the spirit to go and get Peter had then not not just going well hopefully he comes right God was doing a work in his heart because he went and gathered all his family and friends and said no Peter's coming we've sent him we don't know whether that location is verified but we we've sent him Peter is coming and when Peter entered Cornelius met him and fell face down at his feet and worshiped him but Peter lifted him up saying stand up I too am a man this is radical right because Jew and Gentile there's that division there there's God's chosen people and the unclean people and yet Peter is starting to grasp this idea that God is laying on his heart he pulls Cornelius up recognizing his own sin and goes I too am a man do not worship me and as he talked with him he went in and found many people gathered and Peter said to them you yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another Nation but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean Peter's grasping the vision he's grasping that he cannot be doing this in church for us today are we guilty of separating as Christians and declaring Christ as Christians but not necessarily to the non-christians are we guilty of pulling away of not breaching that Gap so when I was sent for this is Peter speaking so when I was sent for I came with that objection and I asked them why you sent for me and Cornelius said four days ago about this hour I was praying in my house at the ninth hour and behold a man stood Before Me In Bright clothing and said Cornelius your prayer has been heard and your arms have been remembered before God send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter he is lodging in the house of Simon atena by the sea so I sent for you at once and you have been kind enough to come now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord remember Jesus commanded Peter and the disciples to go out to preach the gospel to baptize people and to teach them everything that Jesus had commanded them to do that's the same call that us as Christians today have is to go out and to do that not only to Christians they've already got the good news but to all those non-christians the people that we can sometimes find it difficult to have a conversation with the people that we can sometimes steer away from just like Peter and Cornelius God's working in both sides and so we see Peter doing this we see that he's being obedient he's starting to grasp this but it's in verse 34 that he declares it so articulate articulately he says it so profoundly he says truly I understand that God shows no partiality but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him Peters understood that Christ didn't just die for the Jews they're still God's chosen people but Christ didn't just die for the Jews and so he says his statement truly I understand that God chose no partiality but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him and Peter goes on he gives an account of what Jesus did in his life he gives an account of Jesus's Ministry he preaches the gospel he says you already know this but let me tell you of who this Jesus person is and he finishes off this in verse 42 and 43 he says and he being Jesus the one he's talking about and he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead to him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name to him who believes and receives him everyone who receives him and believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name and we're told that even as Peter was speaking these words this Gentile group of people these historically unclean forgotten about people received what Peter was saying they understood it they went you know what Jesus is Lord they put their faith in Christ they believed in him they received forgiveness of their sins through Christ's name they believed and were saved and it wasn't just a statement they made but while Peter was saying these things this inward change had happened this decision had been made and Peter saw in verses 44 through to 48. Peter saw the Holy Spirit fall on this gentile people the holy spirit filled them so that they were talking in tongues just like the Holy Spirit had fallen on the disciples and the Jews gathered the Holy Spirit fell on them they were saved and Peter says who can withhold water for baptizing these people see Jesus's commandment was to teach to preach the gospel to make disciples and to baptize them and Peter having seen this despite the historical cultural divide between the Jews and the Gentiles he had seen that salvation had come he had seen that Christ was working in their lives and so not only were they saved they were baptized and they too were disciples to go and do the very thing that Peter had gone to do and so Church what what can we take away from this why why is this important why is this thing where we don't really think about or talk about Jews and Gentiles in our everyday lives why is this important well if we make that parallel between Christians and non-christians it puts an emphasis on Jesus's command to us he says make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you see we've gathered here this morning we've declared in worship and praise the goodness of our faith we've declared the goodness of Jesus Christ for the Salvation which we have and each of us here can acknowledge I hope that God is working within us God is growing as he's teaching us and yet also he's commanding us he's calling us to go out and make disciples it's hard to to preach the gospel to other Christians they already have that faith and so we're called to go out beyond the church we're called to not only have Christian conversations on a Sunday but on a Monday through to Saturday as well we see that God just like he was at work and Peter is at work in you and I but we also see through Cornelius that God is at work in non-christians he's at work just like Cornelius was a gentile he's at work in non-christians just like before we were saved God was at work in our lives go to us at work in the people that we might try to avoid because they're a little bit rough around the edges and we're called to go and to preach the gospel to them to get beside them to disciple them and church if you take but one thing away from this morning let it be this statement that Peter makes truly I understand that God shows no partiality but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him I said before that we can fall into the thinking that Christ is for Christians and so if people believe in God then we'll tell them about Christ but if they don't well they don't really want to hear it otherwise they'll ask that's not the case you see Christ isn't for Christians Christ is for everyone Christ didn't just die for Christians Christ died for everyone he died for the sins of the whole world salvation is for Christians and so we're called to go out we're called as disciples to go out to share the good news because God's Not only working in us he's working in others as well we're called to go out to preach the gospel so that those who God's working in might be able to have faith might be able to come to this point where everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name Christ isn't for Christians Christ is for everyone but Salvation is for Christians God is at work will we be like Peter and go out even to the people who are undesirable for us to talk to who we don't necessarily want to be in contact with will we go out in faith and share the good news will you pray with me Heavenly Father we thank you for the Salvation which we have in you Lord we thank you that it's not by our own efforts but through Christ and the sacrifice that he made that we're able to stand here this morning as your people and declare that we are saved Lord that we can have relationship with you through Christ and yet Lord we know that there was a time before we made that decision and Lord we know that just as you are at work in our lives now you were at work in our lives then Lord that you used people along the way to bring the gospel to us Lord that you brought understanding Through The Words which they used and father God I just pray that this morning that you would lead us and guide us would you place on our hearts those who you want us to share the gospel with Lord would you help us to overcome any division that we have any selection that we have about who we will tell the good news to father God would you lead us and guide us in this I pray in the name of Jesus Christ amen we sing this last song but let me just read these words to You freely you gave it all for us you've surrendered your life upon the cross is the love poured out for all that's everyone this is our God servant and King you rescued the world This Is Our God please join please stand foreign [Music] let your spirit make me you and I will fall at your feet I will fall at your feet and I will worship you here [Music] [Music] your presence in me Jesus light my way by the power of your word I am restored I Am Redeemed by your spirit [Music] and I will fall [Music] I will fall for your feet and I will worship you here [Music] really you guys oh freely again [Music] foreign [Music] and I will fall at your feet [Music] [Music] rain is done [Music] [Music] this is there may be someone here today though um just has been touched by Dylan's message about there is no favoritism God loves us all and if you need to talk through that all of our pastors are here this morning and they can um just draw you closer to God so just go and see them this morning if you're needing that dear heavenly father you are the God who created everyone and you are the God who loves everybody so dear Lord as we go this week May we remember that each person that we come across is loved by you may we look at them Through The Eyes Of Jesus may be witness to them and may we show them the love of who God is we ask this in your precious name. Amen.