Faithlife
Faithlife

God Shows No Partiality

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Introduction:

  1. If you were a Jew, you would not have liked Cornelius. He represented everything you hated.
    • Cornelius was an uncircumcised gentile, and he made his living in the military occupation of your homeland.
    • Cornelius was an outsider who lived on the fringe of your community.
  2. So you would not have been prepared for what God was about to cause to happen--open the doors to non-Jews of every kind.
  3. Our text is the first account of the church coming to terms with these outsiders.
    • First Peter has to be convinced.
    • Then he has to convince the church leaders of the legitimacy of what he is doing.
    • Eventually the church (Acts 15) would have to convene to discuss this question.

God at work!

  1. God was clearly at work bringing Peter and Cornelius together.
    • Both of them had strange dreams.
    • Both of them had personal contexts that would have kept them apart.
  2. For Peter, what God was asking was more than just a bit of etiquette or a peculiar culinary habit.
  3. In the case of both Cornelius and Peter was a willingness to yield to God's instruction.
    • Like Mary, "I am the handmaid of the Lord."
    • Or Isaiah, "Here am I, send me."
  4. It's important to note that God's intervention in this is not micromanagment of the universe, but rather His interest in redeeming mankind.
    • The rescue of Israel was linked to Jesus' coming.
    • Jesus' death and resurrection was the grand event that delivered the salvation.
    • Bringing Cornelius and Peter together insured the spread of that message across the globe.

Who gets converted?

  1. An interesting question that this event raises is "Who gets converted?" On the one hand the obvious answer seems to be Cornelius. But then again, maybe it is Peter.
  2. Contacts between Jew and Gentile created domestic, household, and tabletime problems.
  3. Conversion to Christ becomes a matter of "Who shall eat at our table?" It's a relevent question.
  4. Jesus was criticized for the company he kept. So now Peter.
  5. Would the church be able to believe that "there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance," Luke 15:7.
  6. The real hero of this story is what Willimon calls "the prodding One who makes bold promises and keeps them."

Repentance.

  1. Acts is a book of contrasts.
    • A crowd of scoffers is turned to believers.
    • An exotic Ethiopian becomes an enlightened believer.
    • A raging enemy of Christ becomes a courageous brother.
    • A gentile soldier is adopted by the church.
  2. Acts 9 shows that the gospel even has power over its enemies.
  3. These stories of conversion had to be encouraging to the church as they watched God create community ex nihilo.

Conclusion:

  1. We live in a very individualized age. This greatly affects the way we look at the text.
  2. In Acts conversion is adoption into a family, immigration into a new kingdom: a social corporate, political phenomenon.
  3. But conversion is also more than a moment; it is a process. At each turn we see the people of Acts becoming converted in new ways.
  4. Conversion is also not accommodation or adjustment of the Gospel to fit the culture. It is conversion. Change and turning are part of the Christian lifestyle.
  5. Acts is not a text book on how to convert people. It is rather a story of how God acted to bring the gospel to all of us.
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