Acts 10: 1-8 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
Notice that Cornelius was:
- A devout man - That means he was consciously committed to religious ideals and morals.
- One who feared God - He had a deep respect for God and his will and ways.
- Also all his household feared God - He was the head of his household teaching and bringing his family and servants up to follow God.
- Who gave alms generously to the people. (Alms are gifts/money to the poor.)
- Prayed to God always - He spent time talking with God not just a few moments, but throughout his day.
Cornelius was a very religious man. Because of his heart God sent an angel to him. Why, wasn’t he okay with God? Wasn’t his eternal destiny secure? The angel said send for this guy called Peter and he will tell you what to do!
The men meet Peter
Acts 10:17-23 The men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
Peter meets Cornelius
Acts 10:24-33 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” (Here’s another thing we find out about how committed Cornelius was to his faith - he was fasting and praying.)
Peter speaks to Cornelius’ household
Acts 10:34-43 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ - He is Lord of all - that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
Look again at what Peter told them; it’s a brief history of the things that God has done to reveal himself and provide salvation for us: peace through Jesus Christ, he is Lord of all, God anointed Jesus with power, He did good and healed people, Peter was a witness to these things, Jesus died on a cross, was raised up, he ate and drank with many others after he was raised, and that Jesus is the Judge of all and that through his name, whoever believes in Him will receive the remission of sins. That is they will be forgiven and will not suffer because of their sins. In other words Peter told them the truth. He did not say, “You guys are just fine and I am sure you will go to heaven.” If being a religious person was all that was necessary to obtain heaven then why did God want Cornelius and his household to hear these things about Jesus? Faith in Jesus is the key and is absolute necessary for the forgiveness that God offers. Let’s read on.
The Holy Spirit falls on the listeners
Acts 10:44-48 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
As promised God sent the Holy Spirit upon these Gentiles (non-Jews) and he did so in the same manner as the Spirit was poured out upon the believing Jews on the day of Pentecost. Notice Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus. The name of Jesus is important because it is through faith in Jesus as Lord that forgiveness is offered since he paid for their sins with his own blood sacrifice on the cross. Being good and believing in God is not enough to obtain forgiveness of sins. Religion toward God is not a substitute for relationship with God. That forgiveness and that relationship in which you receive the Holy Spirit is available to you when you believe in Jesus and surrender yourself to Jesus as Lord. Cornelius and his household were religious, but their sins were not forgiven and they did not have the spirit of God. Now however, after they heard the truth and believed in Jesus they received the Spirit of God and forgiveness escaping the judgment of God and so can you! Come to Jesus today.