the BIG story: Acts 10

By this time, the gospel was advancing in a way that partially fulfilled the Great Commission given in Acts 1:8, but this was far less than what had been commanded. The apostles had not yet come to terms with the fact that the gospel was the good news of salvation for Jews and Gentiles, without distinction. There were a few exceptions – God fearers – like the centurion in Luke 7:2-10, the Ethiopian eunuch, and Cornelius, but these all appear to be people of influence and means, who employed their resources in the service of Judaism.

So this passage is foundation to the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the church, and to the fulfilment of the Great Commission.  Here we find one of the most concise summaries of the gospel:

    1. The gospel began with the preaching of John the Baptist.

    2. The baptism of Jesus, when he was divinely designated as Messiah and empowered with the Holy Spirit.

    3. In his earthly ministry Jesus did good, healed the sick, and delivered those held captive by the devil.

    4. Jesus was crucified by those who rejected him.

    5. The resurrection of Jesus was evidenced by his appearances to many, and to the apostles in particular (who were appointed to testify to his resurrection).

    6. Jesus then gave his witnesses the Great Commission.

    7. Jesus is Lord of all.

    8. Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead.

    9. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus receives the forgiveness of their sins.

    10. This salvation is available everyone of every nation, without distinction.

    11. This gospel is the fulfilment of the message of all the Old Testament prophets.

Peter had not said all he intended, but obviously he had said enough. He was just warming up when the Spirit fell on all those who had gathered to hear him speak. It goes without saying that their hearts had been prepared because they immediately grasped the good news. What they needed to hear was not only that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but that faith in him would bring the forgiveness of sins, whether for the Jew or for the Gentile.

And because they were now speaking in tongues and praising God, just as men were when the Spirit came at Pentecost, Peter really had no other choice than to order that their baptism!

1. This is the gospel, by which all men can be saved. 
No text better summarises the gospel than Peter’s words, spoken to Cornelius and those with him. This is the gospel in a nutshell:

Our Lord came to this earth, was baptised by John and by the Holy Spirit. In this way, he was designated as God’s Messiah and was empowered to carry out his earthly ministry. Jesus did many miracles, setting himself apart from all others. He was the Messiah, but he was rejected and crucified by those He came to save. God overruled this by raising Jesus from the dead. He provided convincing proof of this resurrection by many appearances to those appointed as witnesses. The apostles were witnesses of the resurrection, appointed to proclaim the gospel to all who would believe, Jew or Gentile. Jesus will come again to judge those who have rejected Him. He is Lord of all. Have you trusted in Jesus?

2. There is only one gospel, by which Jews and Gentiles alike must be saved.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to heaven:

Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

3. The gospel is only for those who are completely unworthy of it. 
We can all have people whom we consider unsavable. But the gospel is only for those who are unworthy of salvation and who cannot make themselves acceptable in God’s sight. That is because the gospel is the good news that salvation is a gift, given by grace through faith in Jesus.

4. Salvation is of the Lord.
It wasn’t Peter who took the initiative to bring the gospel to Cornelius and his household; it was God. God prepared Peter and those who would hear his message. It wasn’t Peter who persuaded Cornelius and friends to believe; God did. They came to faith apart from an invitation. And it wasn’t Peter who baptised them in the Spirit. Peter was an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer, but he wasn’t the cause of these conversions.

5. The baptism of the Holy Spirit and even the repeated filling of the Spirit does not make necessarily improve one’s understanding of God’s purposes.
Peter was an apostle, and he was Spirit-filled at Pentecost. But Peter did not have it all figured out the moment the Spirit came upon him. It took the dramatic events of our text to convince Peter that he was wrong.

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