If you’re just joining us, this is part 4 of 5 of Cornelius’s and Peter’s story from Acts 10…
We left off last time where Peter asked Cornelius: “So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.” (Acts 10:29) Let’s pick it up from there…
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.”
Don’t run by the significance of our prayers being heard and our alms being remembered.
- Our love expressed through our prayers matters.
- Our love expressed through our giving matters.
Similarly, don’t run by the significance of an angel showing up and speaking to Cornelius.
- Do angels still exist today?
- Do angels still show up?
- Do angels still speak?
Why would angels cease to exist?
- Nothing in God’s Word says they no longer exist.
- Since they still exist, it only makes sense that their purpose and specific functions still exist.
Cornelius trusted his encounter with the angel and obeyed his direction.
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. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 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. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
What is Peter’s new understanding?
- God shows no partiality!
What does man constantly do?
- Show partiality!
- Partiality between races.
- Partiality between the haves and have nots.
- Partiality with education and economics.
What divides instead of unites us?
- Partiality and inequality!
- Based upon race and nationality.
- Based upon education and economics.
What disempowers God’s mission more than anything?
- Division instead of unity.
What creates division?
- Partiality and inequality
Who is wanted by God?
- “But in every nation anyone who fears [stands in awe of] ..”
- “But in every nation anyone who does what is right is acceptable to Him.”
- Every nation
- Fears Him (stands in awe)
What is the Good News that Peter’s preaching?
- “Peace through Jesus Christ.”
- Peace is relational.
- Peace is not circumstantial.
- Peace is not performance-based.
What did Jesus go about doing?
- “He went about doing good.”
- He did good because of who He is.
- “Healing all who were oppressed by the devil.”
- He healed because of who He is.
- He heals us; we don’t heal ourselves.
It’s always about who first, what second.
Notice the significance of the word witness.
- “We are witnesses of all that He did…”
- “We were chosen by God as witnesses…”
- “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
What did you witness God do in 2019?
What does God want you to witness in 2020?
What will truly be different if you don’t witness anything different?
How are you going to witness something different in 2020?
- Where is God at work?
- How can you join Him?
Who do you see the Holy Spirit working in the most?
- Be in relationship with them.
- Follow them.
What church movements do you see the Holy Spirit working in the most?
- Follow them.
- Experience the difference.
- Remove the distance.
- Go to a conference, retreat, etc.
- It’s caught, not just taught.
Here’s the bottom line: If nothing changes, nothing changes.
- You must witness someone who’s different.
- You must witness works that are different.
Transformation involves learning and obeying, but it’s also more than learning and obeying.
- Transformation is relational.
- Transformation is experiential.
- Transformation is Spirit-led.
- Transformation is Spirit-filled.
There’s an important relationship between what you witness and what transformation you experience. Think about it from the perspective of your kids.
- How do we expect them to believe the love of God without witnessing the love of God?
- How do we expect them to believe the power of God without witnessing the power of God?
- How do we expect them to believe the supernatural and miraculous nature of God without witnessing the supernatural and miraculous power of God?
Ultimately, if you witness little, you’ll believe little.
It’s also true that if you believe little, you’ll witness little.
In our Americanized version of church, we have totally under valued the importance of witnessing God working in and through God’s people. This is why it was so important for us in our previous church to offer a response time every Sunday, to baptize every Sunday, and to see and hear people’s testimonies every Sunday.
When churches cease to witness the works of God, they over-emphasize the doctrine of God.
- Lots to witness unifies us.
- Little to witness divides us.
Doctrine is important… but when it’s too important, doctrine tends to divide us instead of unite us. We mistakenly focus on being right instead of doing right.
What’s the bottom line? Being right doesn’t convert people. They feel judged and resent us when we focus on being right. However, when people witness the work of God, they easily believe the Word of God.
What are the non-negotiable ingredients for God’s people and His Church to thrive?
- The works of God.
- Witnessing the works.
- Believing the Word.
Don’t try to figure out a progression. In many respects, they all happen simultaneously. It’s not about progression as much as it’s about inclusion; all three need to be present.