34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 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. 39 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. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 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. 42 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. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 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. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
In Acts 10:34-48, we’re going to hear a sermon that was preached to a very enthusiastic and eager congregation. Just as Peter the preacher was getting into the meat of his message, the sermon was not only interrupted, it came to a screeching halt.
Before we reverently study this sermon, let’s put the text into context. Our main idea was God is always at work…and sometimes we get to see it. When we don’t see it…remember God is always at work. We learned the Holy Spirit wants to adjust our attitudes and align our actions. God worked in two individuals, who were separated by 30 miles and by cultural and religious distances and were brought together by God’s sovereign timing. Both Cornelius and Peter received divinely synchronized visions while praying. These visions prepared Cornelius for the gospel and prepared Peter to let go of his prejudices.
Since most of the first Christians had a Jewish background, it was natural for them to think that any non-Jewish person (Gentile) had to come to Christianity through Judaism.
The thought of a Gentile getting saved without coming through the door of Judaism was a foreign thought to them. God made it clear both Jew and Gentile can come to Christ by faith alone, without having to be circumcised or by celebrating certain ceremonies or following strict food rules.
Peter headed to the house of a Roman military officer named Cornelius in order to share the good news of the gospel with him. In Acts 10:33 we see how eager Cornelius was to hear the glories of the gospel: “Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” The phrase, “in the presence of God,” is the idea of being “before the face of God.” No preacher could have asked for a more eager or attentive congregation!
Listen to Peter’s sermon introduction in verse 34-35: “So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘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.’” The phrase “opened his mouth” was a solemn formula used to introduce something really important. It was commonly used to describe opening a door to some treasure. Because Peter’s attitude had been adjusted and his actions aligned, he was now ready to preach the grace gospel.
This is huge because Jews believed they were God’s favorites. However, God always intended to extend His favor to everyone who put faith in Him. This goes all the way back to what God said to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Romans 2:11 says, “For God shows no partiality.” Listen to what the enemies of Jesus said about Him in Luke 20:21, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality.”
Verse 36 reminds us the message was first sent to the Jews: “As for the Word that He sent to Israel…” But it wasn’t supposed to stop there according to Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
After this brief introduction, Peter establishes seven essential elements of the grace gospel. These elements stand in contrast to what we often hear people say today.
• I’m sincere in what I believe.
• I’m working at doing good works. Good works are never good enough because no one is good enough to meet God’s standards.
• I’m trying to clean up my life. Come to Him now and He’ll do the cleaning.
1.The gospel alone brings peace. Look at the middle section of verse 36: “…preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ…” This brings us back to the message the sleepy shepherds heard from the angelic choir in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Romans 5:10 declares we are enemies of God and are at war with Him. Romans 5:1 says we can be at peace with God through Jesus: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Ephesians 2:17, we see Jesus brings peace to those from a Jewish background and to those who are Gentiles: “And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”
Once we’re at peace with God, we can experience the peace of God and be at peace with others. That is why it is so hard for me to accept…when a Christian/claiming Christian, can have no peace at all. A lot of anger, misery, doubt, fear and so on. Everything negative in their lives, they dwell on. And none of the positive promises that Christ gives!
2. Acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all. Check out the five words found in the parenthesis at the end of verse 36: “He is Lord of all.” Jesus is Lord of Israelites and of Gentiles. 1 Timothy 6:15 says He is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Listen. There is no way to be saved unless we confess Jesus is Lord. Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Sometimes we fall into saying, “we make Him Lord” when we surrender to Him but actually, He is Lord, whether we submit to Him or not. Because He is Lord, as the song “Oh Holy Night” declares, we must “fall on our knees and receive the gift of heaven.”
The distortion is particularly clear in evangelism. In modern practice the call to repentance is usually called an ‘invitation,’ which one can obviously accept our refuse. It is offered politely. Seldom do we hear presented God’s sovereign demand to repent or His demand for submission to the authority of His appointed King, Christ Jesus.”
3. Absorb all Jesus said and did. Before someone can be saved by the Savior, they must know about the Savior. In verses 37-39, Peter summarizes what Jesus said and did, following the outline presented in the Gospel. “37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 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. 39 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.”
Peter tells Cornelius and his friends that they knew enough about the life of Jesus to submit to His Lordship. The phrase, “you yourselves know” is emphatic. Jesus ministered throughout the land of Israel and even into the surrounding countries.
The word “anointed” is the word for “Messiah” in Hebrew and “Christ” in Greek. Jesus is the long-awaited Savior, the one who fulfills prophecy and exhibits the very power of God. By the way, all three members of the Trinity are evident in verse 38: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit.”
If you don’t know much about Jesus, read one of the four gospels. I recommend you start with Mark or John. Then when you’re done, read all of them. If you hope to know Jesus, you must first know about Him.
4. Agree that Jesus died on a tree. The key part of the gospel is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Because of grace, He died in our place. Listen to the last part of verse 39: “They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree.” Peter picked up on this when he later wrote these words in
1 Peter 2:24: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree.”
In Galatians 5:13 Paul writes: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’” Here’s a deep thought. Jesus took the curse which belonged to us by becoming the curse for us. The curse is reversed when we repent and receive Christ into our lives.
5. Affirm that Jesus was raised from the dead. Aren’t you glad we don’t serve a dead Savior? Jesus has conquered sin, Satan and death itself by rising from the dead, validating everything He claimed. We see this in verse 40-41: “40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 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.”
The reality of the resurrection is the foundation of the Book of Acts. Listen to Acts 1:3: “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”
Jesus appeared to well over 500 people and even ate and drank with some of them to show He was raised from the dead bodily. Peter himself is one of those witnesses.
6. Admit you deserve judgment. While some churches have stopped preaching about Hell or judgment, in verse 42 Peter is given a direct order to preach that Jesus is the ultimate Judge: “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.” He is the One appointed by God Himself and He needs no hearings… He is confirmed.
Because of our sins, each of us deserve judgment, condemnation and a sentence resulting in eternal separation in Hell. 1 Peter 4:5 says everyone will have to appear before Judge Jesus: “But they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”
2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
7. Accept Christ by faith alone for forgiveness of sins. The order here is important. If we don’t first believe in coming judgment, we won’t be interested in the coming of Jesus. If you know you are a condemned sinner, you’ll be eager to hear how you can be saved. Or to say it another way, you must know you are lost before you’ll want to be found. The bad news is bad, but that only makes the good news really good!
Look at verse 43: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” I love how all the prophets in the Old Testament pointed to Christ and to the message of forgiveness. Let’s pause and ponder the phrase, “whoever believes in Him”. The offer of forgiveness goes out to those from a Jewish background and to those who are Gentiles.
Forgiveness is available for Jew, Gentile, Samaritan, American, Armenian, African, prostitute, adulterer, Democrat, Republican, and Independent. Luke 24:47: “and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
So, here’s the deal. You will either face Jesus as Judge or you will face Jesus as Justifier. You will either be condemned because of your sins or you’ll be commended because the Savior has forgiven your sins. You’ll either go to Heaven because Jesus has taken on your curse or you will be cursed forever in a hot place called Hell. Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Baptism was their first step of obedience. As we’ve already seen in the Book of Acts, baptism always follows belief. Look at verse 47-48 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. The expected answer is a hearty “no.”. Baptism is the next step after belief.
Both Jew and Gentile have free and full access in Scripture alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone! That’s exactly what we read in
1 Corinthians 12:13:
1 Corinthians 12:13
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
Baptism provides the believer with the opportunity to identify with Christ and to be incorporated into the church. Gathering to grow was a priority. I almost missed the importance of the very last phrase in verse 48: “Then they asked him to remain for some days.” Peter was willing to linger in order to help them learn more about the Lord. He continued gathering with them so they could grow.
If your rationale for staying away from your church family hasn’t been carefully defined, you run the risk of never returning to church. If you do not draw a line in the sand right now and determine when you will return to worship, you may never return. You will find other things to fill your Sunday and commitment to your church will slowly fade away.
Please understand I’m committed to grace and not trying to be judgmental. Everyone has to wrestle with these complicated issues and come to their own conclusion. If you want to be saved today, you can be…or maybe the Holy Spirit interrupted this sermon and you already trusted Christ! Let’s hold on to these seven essential ingredients of the grace Gospel.
1. Assert that the gospel alone brings peace.
2. Acknowledge Jesus as Lord of all.
3. Absorb all Jesus did and said.
4. Agree that Jesus died on a tree.
5. Affirm that Jesus was raised from the dead.
6. Admit you deserve judgment.
7. Accept Christ by faith alone and receive forgiveness.
Pastor Richard Santos
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