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Peter and Cornelius: Part 2 (Acts 10:17-33)

September 11, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon prevails upon the pride and prejudices within the human heart through the revelation of the Jesus Christ. Pastor Carter explains that even born-again, baptized, spirit-filled believers need God’s grace to expose them to their sin, so that they may continually rejoice in the mercy of Christ. The focus of this sermon is on how the Holy Spirit enlightens Peter with a new experience, brings a new excitement to Cornelius, and leaves them both with a new expectation.

Peter: A New Experience

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them. And Peter went down to the men and said, I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming? And they said, Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God- fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say. So he invited them in to be his guests (Acts 10:17-23;ESV).

What Peter saw in his vision was mind-blowing, frankly, a hard saying. Peter acknowledged that the Lord is gracious and abounding in steadfast love, so he meditated on the Word he received with the hope of understanding what it meant (cf. Joshua 1:6-8; John 6:60-68; James 1:5). While Peter was pondering this hard saying, the Spirit was working. God was tearing down the wall of pride and prejudices among the Jewish nation, beginning with Peter. When the Spirit of God comes in power and reveals Jesus Christ, there is a new experience.

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Cornelius: A New Excitement

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. And he 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. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me (Acts 10:23-29; ESV).”

Subsequently, the Lord – in His omniscience – began a work in Cornelius’ heart to prepare Him for the words of eternal life. Cornelius was excited, so much so, he invited his relatives and close friends to welcome Peter on arrival (cf. John 4:28-29). The excitement of knowing that the Lord heard his prayers overwhelmed Cornelius. Moreover, not only did the Lord hear the prayers of Cornelius, but also salvation would soon come to his house through Peter (cf. Zacchæus, Luke 19:1-9). Peter obeyed the Holy Spirit. He did not hesitate or object, instead he moved with great anticipation and expectation to see the work of the Lord among the Gentiles.

The Gospel: A New Expectation

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 alms 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, a tanner, 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 (Acts 10:30-33;ESV).

Why did God choose to reveal Himself through Peter instead of doing so directly? Perhaps, in His wisdom, He chose to use Peter for at least two reasons, 1) Christ told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and 2) Christ would receive more glory from Peter’s witness. First, the Lord graciously exposes Peter’s sin with the purpose of reminding him of the mercy Christ showed him (cf. Luke 5:8). Then, He stirs the heart of Cornelius that he might receive the word from Peter with gladness. Now Peter, after being confronted by the sin in his heart, was ready to humbly proclaim the Gospel (not simply to Jews) but even to the Gentiles.

What is the difference?

Revelation of Jesus Christ makes all the difference in the world. When you come to know Him, you want everybody to know Him. When you come to know Him, like Peter, see your sins as grievous, heinous, and rotten compared to His holiness, yet He is still graciousness toward sinners. Ultimately, when you are enlightened to the revelation of Christ, you realize He can forgive you of your sins because He is strong enough to save you and keep you until He returns. What impact has the Gospel made in your life today?

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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