“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.” – Acts 10:1-2
I wouldn’t have gone back even if I had the chance to restart our study in Acts. Too much has transpired, there’s lots more ground to cover, and I know what I want to do. I’ve moved forward to the next chapter, and now we’re in chapter 10 of the book of Acts. Here we see a man named Cornelius who had not been taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Cornelius was a Gentile (meaning he wasn’t from the nation of Israel; he was not a Jew). And he was a praying man. The Bible says that he always prayed to God (v.2). It’s a blessing to go before the Lord in prayer.
The devil is busy seeking whom he may devour and only wants to kill, steal, and destroy. We have to be vigilant and pray. I’m confident in my prayers before the Lord, because I know that He hears me.
So Cornelius was a Gentile who was a man of good reputation; he gave generously to others, and his prayers and giving went up to God as a memorial before Him (v. 4). So God arranged for Peter to take the gospel message to Cornelius. He was hesitant at first because Gentiles were unclean to Jews (which Peter lived as before becoming a Christian) (vs.9-16).
God told Peter that what He has made clean must not be called common (v.15). So Peter went and preached the gospel message to Cornelius and all Cornelius’ relatives and close friends (v. 24). Cornelius was excited about what the Lord had in store for him, and he wanted to share it with the people that he loved so he invited them.
And Peter preached the same gospel message that he preached on the day of Pentecost – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (vs. 34-43). And while he was teaching them, the Holy Spirit fell on them and they began to speak in different languages (v. 44-46). Those who were with Peter were amazed that the Gentiles were receiving the Holy Spirit.
Then Peter said, “‘Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (vs. 47-48). So, even the Gentiles (that includes all of us who are not Jews) were given the command to be baptized. T
hey were not exempt from what Jesus said when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).
I want us to consider this point: Cornelius was a devout man (meaning, he was devoted to God), he prayed always to God, he gave of his means to other people, he was just, and a man of good reputation (v.22). Yet, in all that he did in service to God, he still was not saved. He had not obeyed the gospel. He couldn’t have obeyed it before that point because he had not known it. People today – preachers, even – can be so devoted, religious, and spiritual toward God, yet still not be saved.
Is that you? Are you spiritual and devoted to God, but you have not obeyed the gospel? Did someone mislead you to believe that a simple prayer to God will save you? If that’s you, then I urge you to obey the gospel call: believe in Jesus, repent of your sins, confess His wonderful name, be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, and continue a life of devotion and service to the Lord.
We’re seeing a common theme here in Acts regarding what people did in order to be saved, how they obeyed the gospel, and the gospel that was preached to them. You cannot be saved without water baptism.
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