Acts 10:The Good News of Peace Through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of ALL!
Now as Peter is wondering about this strange vision, the men sent by Cornelius arrive at Simon the Tanners house looking for Peter. At the same time, the Spirit said to him: Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them. NOTE: Peter is trying to understand what God has told him in the vision regarding the animals and the statement regarding clean and unclean. But Gods has revealed it to us by His Spirit. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand what God has freely given us ( I Cor 2) This is the Counselor, the Holy Spirit that Jesus told the disciples would teach them and guide them in truth.
Peter is searching for the meaning of Gods word to him and the Spirit is going to guide Peter and open the eyes of his heart to see. The Spirit tells Peter the actions to take. There is a time for praying, a time for study of the Scripture- but sometimes we need to look around us- for what the Spirit would have us do is right there before us, as in the case with Peter. Jesus told us His Father is always at work. In fact Jesus said he could only do what he sees his Father doing , because whatever the Father does, the Son does also. (John 5) Like Peter we are to look around and see what the Father is doing. Pray to have the eyes of your heart opened. And like Jesus and Peter we know the Father will show us what he is doing because He loves us and He wants us to join Him in His Kingdom business. Verse 23 tells us Peter invites these men into his house, where they will spend the night. Peter is very aware this is against Jewish law and custom to have Gentiles lodging with him,a Jew.
So- we see Saul of Tarsus when he encounters the Lord on the road to Damascus ask the Lord what would you have me to do? We see Peter wondering, searching for what the meaning of the vision was and we see the Spirit giving Peter an answer that once acted upon will change Peters life and the direction of the early church. If you want to know what the Lord wants you to do? Ask Him. Then be prepared to act upon what He shows you to do. In fact later on as Peter meets with Cornelius and those with him, Peter states: God has shown me . And the same God will show you what He would have you to do. So- look around you.
Now Peter takes with him some brothers, fellow Jews, with him on the trip to Cornelius. We later are told in Acts 11 there were six of them. When Peter enters the house of Cornelius, Cornelius, the Roman centurion, falls at Peters feet in reverence. Peter made him get up. Stand up, I am only a man myself. ( The Catholic Church calls Peter the first Pope- I dont think Peter thought of himself as anything but what he says here- I am just a man too. I am just a sinner saved by grace.)
When Peter enters the home of Cornelius, he finds a large crowd gathered. This is a home Bible study the way it is intended to be. I believe this could still be an effective tool for evangelism. Here is the format: a man or woman opens their home, gathers friends into it, has some refreshments and invites a teacher to come and present the Gospel. Many people are not comfortable attending a church service or even a Sunday School class but will come to a friends home.
Peter begins to talk with them and states: You are well aware that it is against our law( man-made law) for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask you why you sent for me? ( vs. 28.29)
Cornelius then answers and tells of the angels visitation and directions.
Then Peter began to speak: I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all. ( Acts 10:34-36)
Interesting that Luke who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts recorded the birth of Jesus and the visitation of the angels to the shepherds. Listen to what the angels said to those shepherds: I bring you good news ( gospel) of great joy that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE. Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord. And the a heavenly host appeared praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE and good will toward men. ( Luke 2)
So it is Peters first point in this Gospel sermon/teaching is: You know the message God sent to the people of Israel telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all. I really believe if we could have seen Cornelius face when he heard the word peace we would have seen a look of anticipation for this was what he realized he was searching for- PEACE. In these statements Peter tells them God shows no favoritism but accepts those who fear Him and do what is right. It matters not if you are Jew or Gentile, male or female, free man or slave. Paul writes in Romans 5 we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who comes to God with an honest heart will find an open door to the truth about Jesus Christ. For man looks on the outward man- on his race, his parentage, his status- but God looks in our hearts. It is only through Jesus Christ that we will experience the peace we so desperately seek.
Next Peter recites the historic events of the ministry of Jesus. He tells of the coming of Christ, the Word who was with God and is God became flesh and dwelt among us. The Lord came as a man the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. The Lord did not come to display His deity- He in fact veiled it in flesh. He came to show us how a man indwelt by God was supposed to live. He was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and power. Peter speaks to them of John the Baptists preaching and Jesus ministry which began after being baptized by John. Peter tells this audience of Gentiles how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power.
It was this power and anointing with the Holy Spirit that resulted in good works. Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with Him. Jesus Christ destroyed the works of the enemy. He did this openly before many witnesses. Peter is reminding them of things they have heard and that were witnessed by many. This is what Jesus Christ did 2000 years ago when he was in an earthly body. Today He indwells His Body, the church, and as Christians we are indwelt by Him through the Holy Spirit so that we possess this treasure in earthen vessels. And greater is He who is in us- than he who is in the world. Peter says- we are witnesses to these mighty works and miracles.
Then Peter tells them almost bluntly: They killed Him by hanging Him on a tree. Certainly Cornelius needed no further description, for as a Roman centurion he had seen his share of crucifixion and knew how horrible it was. For Peter it would probably always provoke a painful memory and he wanted to get to the good news- the resurrection, his next point.
..But God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen. So Peter has presented the Gospel from Jesus baptism by John the Baptist to his death and resurrection. He adds that he and other witnesses chosen by God ate and drank with the resurrected Lord. And the Lord commanded them to preach the Gospel.
Here is Peters climatic finish to this brief sermon: ..and to testify that He is the One whom God appointed as Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about Him that everyone WHO BELIEVES IN HIM RECEIVES FORGIVENESS OF SINS THROUGH HIS NAME.
Peter continues to preach. He is like the salesman who doesnt know to stop talking for the sale has been made. The Holy Spirit ends Peters sermon suddenly- for this is what Cornelius realized was what he sought after- forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
This is the basic need of every human heart. To be forgiven of our sins. To have a clear conscience. To have peace with God. No guilt in our lives. Guilt enslaves us doesnt it? It brings fear and shame- two emotions which Adam and Eve had never experienced until they sinned and experience the awfulness of guilt. Guilt and worry over our past sins and anxiety over what the future holds can keep one from sleep at night and make one sick with worry. Surely this is what the song writer lamented when he wrote- oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Do you know what the title of that song is? What a Friend We Have in Jesus. A friend of sinners.
Jesus said on that fateful night in the Upper Room. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ( John 14: 27) Jesus also told us He would never leave us. In fact it is in His presence that we experience this peace that passes understanding.
The longer I live- the more I come to realize that peace is something we have all pursued in our own ways. We looked to the world for happiness but Jesus said I do not give you peace as the world gives.
This peace is what Cornelius was trying to find. It was not in his position as a Centurion. The success of this position still left him searching for something. Here is what the Word of God says: You(God) will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stedfast because he trusts in You. ( Isaiah 26:3) He is the God of Peace, Jehovah Shalom.
Does this peace with God and peace of God mean we will never have trouble? Of course not. Peace is the undergirding rock of the solid foundation on which we have built our lives. It is on Christ the Solid Rock I stand. Storms will come- but we will learn God sustains us and can keep us and take us through the storm. I remember once when we were flying to Houston in 1998 for treatment of my cancer at MD Anderson. Gina was worried about me and what would happen if I died. We took off from Memphis that day in a terrible rain storm. But after climbing to 30,000 feet we lifted up above the clouds to beautiful sunny blue skies. We could actually look below us and see the storm but we were now above it. This visual evidence of what is above all storms we encounter encouraged Gina and me as we realized God would take us through this storm. When we go through the storms- His Abiding Presence keeps us in perfect peace whose mind is stedfast on Him.
This peace of God passes understanding. Philippians 4 contains some well known verses but dont miss the last portion of Phil. 4: 5: The Lord is near.Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Did you see that? The Lord is Near. It is His presence that provides the peace.
In fact , peace is a promise of God. Peace is a gift of God. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of love, and power and a sound mind.
What can cause one to lose his or her peace? Fear can cause one to lose their peace. Fear is the enemy of faith. When a sudden storm came on the Sea of Galilee with the Lord Jesus asleep in the stern, the disciples were in fear of their life. When they awoke Jesus what did Jesus say to the wind and the sea in Mark 4? He said, Peace- be still. And the storm stopped and Jesus asked his disciples-why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? If at his command of peace be still the wind and the seas obey- why can we not respond the same way to his command?
Sin in your life can steal your peace. Sin is rebellion against God. How can you expect to have peace when you live in rebellion against the God of Peace?
Some of us give up in times of trouble. We surrender our peace. We surrender because we have lost our focus. We have set our minds on our problems, real as they might be, instead on setting our minds and eyes on God.
Storms will come. But storms will pass also. He has promised never to let you be tested above that which you can bear- but will make a way for you to escape that you might be able to bear it. Storms are for a reason and a season.
Should I not experience fear, worry and anxiety when a storm strikes suddenly? Of course we will experience these human emotions. In fact these are natural and instinctive. There is no fault in having these feelings. It is about what you do with those feelings. These feelings are an alarm that sounds within us that should send us running to our Heavenly Father our refuge in the storm.
Here are five essential beliefs to let not your heart be troubled:
- God is absolutely Sovereign.
- God is your Provider.
- God made you the way you are for a purpose.
- God has a place for you where you truly belong.
- God has a plan for your fulfillment
God is Sovereign. Read Psalms 91. There is security in Gods Sovereignty. If you make the Most High your dwelling- even the Lord who is my refuge- no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. He promises to be with you in trouble.
God is your Provider. Jehovah Jireh. Manna in the desert, water from the rock, a young boys sack lunch to feed thousands, etc.., He has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He is our shepherd and we are His sheep. He has promised if we seek first the kingdom of God all these things we have need of will be added.
God made you and me the way we are for a purpose. One of my favorite visiting preachers at Woodland was the late Ron Dunn. He was a great teacher and illustrator of biblical truths. He told us once of the first time he heard Adrian Rodgers preach and could not believe not only Dr. Rodgers grasp and understanding of scripture- but what a magnificent booming voice he possessed. He on the other hand felt his voice was weak, high and nasal. Yet later when he developed a tape ministry, a person taping his service told him- his high voice was perfect for tapes. You see a Sovereign God saw you and me and formed us in our mothers womb.
God has a place where you truly belong. ..He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and God determined the times set for me and you and the place where we should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being. ( Paul in Athens, Acts 17)
God has a plan for your fulfillment. I believe every person has something they are better at than most. It is often something they enjoy doing also. God has given each of us a spiritual gift(s) that enable us when combined with other abilities to do something with skill and competence. And when we do this we feel a sense of inner peace- a satisfaction. Gods desire is for each of us to become skilled at using the talents and abilities He gave us at birth. He also desires we use the ministry gift we received at salvation. The turning of talents and gifts into skills is part of our responsibility. It may require education, acquiring specific knowledge and repetition or practice to become proficient. Here is the key- we have to continue to learn and practice. We have to trust God to help us learn and grow.
You see none of us are perfect and complete- that is why we need God and each other. When you feel ignorant-ask God for wisdom. When you feel inadequate- trust God for his adequacy. When you are weak- remember Jesus said his strength is made perfect in weakness.
As believers what we think about God affects everything we do. If you do not believe He is sovereign and can provide all your needs, including the peace that comes from a relationship with a loving father- then you will be plagued with fear, worry and doubt. You cannot experience peace.
And peace is what we are seeking. Do you personally know the message God sent to the people of Israel telling the news of peace through Jesus Christ who is Lord of all?
Know God- Know Peace.
No God- No Peace.