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Monthly Archives / September 2018

  • Sep 30 / 2018
  • Comments Off on If you are Christian, BE Christian! (Acts 11:19-30)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

If you are Christian, BE Christian! (Acts 11:19-30)

Download Notes in a .MD file

If you are Christian, BE Christian!

Acts 11:19-30 (Pastor Heo)

11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.


There were at least three steps on the ladder to preach to the Gentiles.

  1. Chp 8: Philip preached to the Samaritans (half-Jews)
  2. Chp 10: Peter preached to the Gentiles (Cornelius + family and friends) – but it was Cornelius who took the initiative – he sought the church and was ALREADY a God-fearer – ready to be saved.
  3. Chp 11: In Antioch, the gospel was preached openly and publicly to Gentiles. The gospel is finally launched on its worldwide mission.

Christianity took the most important turning point in church mission history in these three – Philip, Peter, Antioch.

We don’t know the names of the people from Antioch who took the gospel to the Gentiles – they go down in history as nameless pioneers of Christ. Nobody remembered this courageous act – but God does.

Their names may not be written in human history, but their names are written in God’s book of life.

Challenge:

When you do something at church or for church, do not do it to be recognized by man – do it to be recognized by God – because his memory lasts for eternity, but man’s memory lasts but a short while.

v. 19-22

“11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.”

Chp 7 – Stephen was killed

  • As a result, great persecution broke out
  • Because of this, only the apostles and a few leaders remained in Jerusalem
  • All the others scattered – mostly throughout Palestine

Chp 8 – Philip preached to the Samaritans

  • The mother church heard, and sent Peter and John there
  • At the same time, the gospel spread throughout the land to many other places
  • At first, they preached only to Jews.

But later, some from Cyprus and Cyrene came to Antioch and preached to the Greeks.

  • God was so happy with them, he worked through them, and a great number of people turned to the Lord.
  • The mother church heard this news
  • So, they sent Barnabas to confirm the news and witness this new work.

The most important place in this story is Antioch. At that time in history, there were at least 16 Antiochs – and even in the Bible there are 2.

  1. Antioch in Syria (this one)
  2. Antioch in Pisidia

The Antioch of Syria was the capital of Syria, 300 miles north of Jerusalem – beyond Palestine and 50 miles in from the Mediterranean.

At that time, the biggest three cities in the world:

  1. Rome
  2. Alexandria
  3. Antioch (this one)
    • Metropolitan – but corrupt
    • It was famous for chariot racing and deliberate pursuit of pleasure (like Las Vegas today) – luxurious immorality.
    • It was most famous for Daphene (a god with whom a mortal fell in love) idol worship.

But in this dark place, the gospel began to shine. We must understand that there is nowhere in the world that the gospel cannot shine. No stronghold of Satan that the gospel cannot destroy.

So in church history, Antioch is very meaningful. There are at least 4 “world records” here:

  1. The FIRST place the gospel was preached to the Gentiles openly and deliberately
  2. The FIRST place the believers were called “Christians” (nickname)
    • At first, this was a contemptuous nickname
  3. The FIRST local church which collected special offerings to help Jewish believers in Judea in time of famine
  4. The FIRST local church which dispatched missionaries to the Gentiles (Barnabas and Saul)

“I am Antioch”

Our Antioch church is named after THIS Antioch church.

v. 23-26

“11:23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

(Tarsus is Saul’s hometown)

Remember, when the Jerusalem church heard about Antioch, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate it and confirm the new converts.

The mother church did not send one of the 12 apostles, but it is by the providence and grace of God that Barnabas was sent – he was the most suitable choice. (v. 24)

Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement” (open-minded), native of Cyprus – he was a blend of Roman, Greek, Jewish culture. And when he arrived he rejoiced to see the grace of God in this Gentile city. He was so happy to welcome new believers into the church.

Actually, he had TOO MUCH to do – so he needed help. At this moment, Barnabas could have asked to the mother church to send somebody to him to help him – or he could have sent a messenger to Jerusalem to get someone. But he didn’t, he himself went personally to Tarsus to bring Saul specifically.

Several years earlier, Barnabas had stood up for Saul and supported him when the other believers doubted him. Some time later, men tried to kill Saul, so he escaped to his hometown, Tarsus. And up to now, several years have passed – and there is no real record of what he did. But we can be sure he must have preached the gospel in his hometown faithfully and Barnabas remembered him in his mind.

The right mind has the ability to see the right person at the right time for the right purpose.

Barnabas must have realized that if he worked with Saul he would sink into the place of secondary importance.

v. 26

“26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” (Barnabas is first)

v. 30

“30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” (Barnabas is first – the leader)

Chp 13:1

“13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.” (Barnabas first, Saul last)

But Barnabas’ name disappears in chp 16, and Paul’s name goes on to the last sentence of this book.

From Chp 13:43 we can see this change:

“43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.”

Barnabas to Paul was like John the Baptist to Jesus: “He must become greater and I must become less.”

Actually, I HOPE that you also will do likewise to ME. And Children to your parents as well. We must raise up people / leaders greater than we are.

v. 11:27

“27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.”

Interestingly, this title was not given in Jerusalem or Samaria. This title was given by non-Christians.

There were many terms:

  • Brother & sisters,
  • saints,
  • disciples,
  • the church, etc

The believers had no idea to call themselves “Christians” – this is mixed “Christ” + “ian”

  • “Christ” (Greek) = “Messiah” (Hebrew)
  • “ian” (Latin suffix) = belonging to the party of

To them, the believers could not apply the divine name to themselves. At that time, the term “Messiah” was a term of divinity – so if they took it for themselves, it would be considered very blasphemous.

So the outsiders nicknamed them “Christians” because at that time, this was a name of ridicule, contempt, etc.

To outsiders, the lifestyle of Christians was too high – they could not understand their moral standards. It was too high to follow. Even in poverty, persecution, they responded with joy, thanksgiving, blessings. Why? Because they always focused on heaven, not this world. So, many people called them “crazy.”

Even in Korean, sometimes outsiders call you, “예수쟁이”. Who can be called a “Christian” by outsiders?

Paul said, “If I live, I live to Christ. If I die, I die to Christ. Whether I live or die, I belong to Christ.” He MUST be called a “Christian” by outsiders.

Are you a Christian? BE a Christian.

Personal experience

About 15 years ago (in Turkey?), I had trouble in a mission conference. I went shopping and the seller tried to explain something to me, but his words were strange.

  • I said, “Truly?”
  • He looked at me very solemnly and said, “I AM MUSLIM.”

This short sentence gave me much meaning. “Muslims NEVER tell lies, etc”.

He was SO proud of being Muslim. Our pride in being Christian must be higher.

“I am CHRISTIAN.”

This should give so many meanings.

“I am honest, don’t lie, bless when cursed, etc.”

  • George Folks and his followers trembled whenever they opened the Bible. They were called “Quakers” 퀘이커 교도?
    • At that time, there were so many Puritans, these were called Quakers.
  • Methodists also – due to their very strict pursuit of holiness – became “Methodists”

Conclusion

Alexander the Great: one day in his army there was another “Alexander.” (Like we have many Aarons, Davids, Johns, Pauls, etc). He was famous for his timidity.

But we know Alexander the Great conquered the world at age 23. He called the soldier to himself,

“Are you named after me?”

“Yes, sir, I am.”

“If you’re named Alexander, BE an Alexander! Or change your name!”

Fortunately, our Lord Christ, full of mercy, love, compassion, does not say this to us. But he does challenge, encourage, and empower us to BE who we are.

If you are Christian~ BE Christian~ let others KNOW who you are through your lifestyle!

Because “Christian” lifestyle is the visible representation of Christ to those who cannot see.

“God bless you Christians.”

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 23 / 2018
  • Comments Off on Two Crucial Questions (Acts 10:44-11:18)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Two Crucial Questions (Acts 10:44-11:18)

Download Notes in a .MD file

Two crucial questions

Acts 10:44-11:18 (Pastor Heo)

10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. 47 Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

11:1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. 6 I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ 8 “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. 11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ 15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” 18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”


The term centurion = title for Roman soldier (captain of few 100 soldiers).

In the NT, there are 4 centurion stories – ALL of them are “good men” in faith or human character:

  1. Gospel of Matthew chp 8: Centurion came to Jesus to ask help for his paralyzed servant.
    • Jesus said, “I’ll go.”
    • Centurion said, “No, I don’t deserve this. Just say the word and it will be done.”
    • Jesus was surprised: “I have never found in Israel such a great faith. Go and it will be done as you’ve said.”
  2. Gospel of Matthew chp 27: Jesus’ crucifixion – this centurion was in charge of the soldiers to crucify Jesus. When he saw the earthquake, and all, he exclaimed, “Surely, this man was the Son of God.” He testified that this was the real Messiah to come.
  3. Acts 27: Julius the centurion was guarding Paul and other prisoners on the boat to Rome. He was very kind to Paul on that ship, but the ship was wrecked, broken on the rocks. At this situation, the soldiers planned to kill all the prisoners to prevent them from swimming away. But the centurion wanted to save Paul – so he saved them all.
  4. [This story] Acts 10: Cornelius, a man of devotion, prayer, true seeker, but not yet saved. He received a vision from the angel of God and invited Peter to his house to speak the message of salvation. So Peter went and spoke to the first Gentile Christian community in the NT. When he spoke, the HS touched their hearts and they responded in faith, receiving Christ as Savior and Lord.

Do you know the key ministry of the HS?

The KEY ministry of the HS is to “testify / witness about Christ” in people whenever the message of the gospel is spoken. Thus, the Word of God = the Sword of the HS.

“No one can confess, ‘Jesus is Lord’ without the power of the HS.”

“Faith comes from hearing – and this Word is the Word of God.”

If you want the HS to work in and through you, preach the gospel of salvation. Please remember – whenever you preach the message of salvation in Christ, the HS works so powerfully, so effectively. This is the basic principle of the Bible – a timeless truth.

A Christian is a witness of the resurrection of Christ – so to us, Jesus is not just a historical nor fictional figure. He is a LIVING PRESENCE.

“Jesus Christ is a living presence” whom we meet every day, every moment.

v. 44

“44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.”

What are “these words”? The gospel message:

  1. Jesus’ life
  2. His ministry
  3. His crucifixion
  4. His resurrection
  5. His lordship

“These words” are the core message of the gospel.

As soon as they received Jesus as Lord and Savior, all of them received water baptism as well. Have you also received this? Do you know the meaning of this? What is the spiritual meaning of this?

v. 47-48

“47 Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.”

In the NT, immediate water baptism followed confession of faith in Christ.

  • Acts 8: Philip preached to a Samaritan and many believed and all of them received water baptism.
  • Also in the same chapter, the same man preached to an Ethiopian eunuch (high position – financial minister) in his chariot on the desert. He also accepted Christ and confessed his faith and immediately, as they traveled, they found some water (maybe an oasis) by the side of the road and he was baptized.
  • Chp 9: Saul’s (Jewish name) conversion story – as soon as he was converted, he was also baptized.
  • Chp 16: Paul (Greek name) – preached, but was put in prison. He praised God even in this terrible situation and all of a sudden, there was a violent earthquake and all the prison doors flew open. All the chains were loosed. The jailer drew his sword to commit suicide because he assumed everyone had escaped.
    • Paul shouted: “Do not harm yourself! We are all here!”
    • He rushed in and trembled before Paul and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
    • Paul shouted: “Believe in Jesus as Lord, and you will be saved – you and all your household.”
    • Immediately, he accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. They were saved immediately – because salvation is a kind of birth (not gradual growth).

Salvation is “born again” – and immediately they received water baptism.

Let’s clear up Water Baptism

This is NOT essential for salvation.

The condition for salvation is ONLY FAITH in Christ. But after salvation, water baptism is essential for several things commanded:

  1. To fulfill the Great Commission: Matt 28 (“make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…”)
  2. To show our ID publicly in this world: just as we WERE Id’ed with Adam in our first birth, now we choose to show we are Id’ed with Christ in our second (spiritual) birth. It shows our own death, burial, and resurrection with Christ.
  3. To declare and show our allegiance to Christ publicly: we are his slaves (dulos) – he is our Lord (curios) – We have no rights of our own, only duty to him who saved us. “You are Lord” = “I’m your slave”
  4. To join our ID with the Christian community

God put these two together in doing his spiritual job. Maybe this is a mosaic of God. Cornelius and Peter are VERY different in human background:

  1. Cornelius: Roman, military, rich, centurion
  2. Peter: Jewish, fisherman, poor, preacher

In that day, a “new chapter” in church history was written (chp 10). As a Jewish leader, and a Gentile convert, both discovered something very meaningful about God in the other person.

  • Cornelius NEEDED Peter and his preaching to find the way to God and salvation.
  • Peter NEEDED Cornelius and his conversion experience to know that God’s plan included Gentiles for world salvation.

So, today, you and another believer, even unbeliever NEED each other to see how God works.

Peter’s Journey (Jerusalem -> Jerusalem)

chp 11:1-3

“11:1 The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him 3 and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.””

  • After finishing his great task of preaching the gospel, he returned to Jerusalem.
  • Before arriving, the report had already reached them there.
  • The Gentiles had received the Word of God (news is faster than our walking)

They SHOULD HAVE praised God – giving thanks “Even Gentiles!”

But instead of rejoicing, they criticized Peter, “Even Gentiles?”

We must be careful:

  • Critics criticize first, and gather information later.

Please, do not criticize fellow Christians’ great job without first hearing the FULL story.

Because of this, Peter began to explain his story (v. 4-17)

v. 4-17

“11:4 Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened:

17 So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?””

He said, “I’m nothing. I have no right to say ‘no’ to God.” And the conclusion was praising God. We also will conclude our journeys with praising God.

v. 18

“18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.””

From this story of Peter, there is a very important lesson we can apply in our daily lives.

Peter’s journey as an itinerant preacher from / to Jerusalem:

  • He was like a senior pastor of the Jerusalem church (the first local church, his mother church)
  • This story began in chp 8 – the church grew greatly and persecution broke out
  • Only Peter and other apostles remained in Jerusalem, the others scattered
  • Philip (deacon) preached in Samaria, and many believed
  • Apostles heard that news, so they sent Peter and John to Samaria to help
  • Peter and John came and they prayed for them, placing their hands on them and they became filled with the HS
  • Afterward, they returned to Jerusalem
  • Peter did not go DIRECTLY to Jerusalem. On his way back, he preached the gospel here and there (all over the place) – nearly all the villages in Samaria
  • He arrived at Lyda and found a sick (paralyzed) man whom he healed in the name of Christ
  • There he stayed for a while
  • In Joppa (nearby), Tabitha (woman) died, and they had heard of Peter, so they sent for him. He raised her to life and many people believed
  • There he stayed for a (longer) while
  • During his stay, Cornelius from Caesarea sent for him and he went – he preached to them there
  • He stayed there a while longer as well (education, etc)
  • And he FINALLY made it back to his “home church” in Jerusalem

v. 2

“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, …”

Our journeys on earth are ALSO like this – we are also itinerant preachers.

  • From God -> God
  • From heaven -> heaven

This is our spiritual journey in this world

We begin and end with God.

Our lives on earth are only spiritual preparation for eternity.

One day our hearts will stop, but that will not be the end of us. “Physical death is not the end of me.” This is just a transition into eternity – so there are eternal consequences to everything you do in this world.

To make the most of your life, keep the vision of eternity forever in your heart.

Measured against eternity, our times in this world are the blink of an eye, but the consequences will last forever. So, we must never forget TWO things:

This life is very short, earth is a temporary residence. Thus the Bible calls us, “pilgrims, aliens, travelers, visitors, foreigners” – we are IN this world, but not OF this world. Hebrews 11 is the Faith chapter with the intro of those who lived by faith. One common thing = they admitted they were aliens, strangers, pilgrims on earth and they were all LONGING for a better (heavenly) country.

Thus, God was not ashamed to be called their “Father”. We are not put here on earth to impress men but to prepare to stand before God our Father. One day we will all stand before him, and we cannot escape this place. One day, we will stand before God and he will do an audit of our lives. This is our “Final Exam” just before we enter eternity.

In this final Judgment Seat, he will ask us only TWO questions.

  1. “What did you do WITH Jesus Christ?”
  2. “What did you do FOR Jesus Christ?”

He will not ask us about our denomination or background, our doctrine or views. He will not ask how long you lived, how much you made, your educational / business background. Only: Jesus

  1. 1st: “Did you accept Christ, what he did for you, and love him?”
    • Because “no one comes to God except by me.”
  2. 2nd: What did you do FOR God with what he gave you?

What did you do with your relationships, money, time, talents, treasure, etc. Do you use them on yourself? Or did you use them for him?

  1. Will determine WHERE you spend eternity.
  2. Will determine WHAT you will do in eternity.

Can you calculate how long eternity is?

Phil 3:20 “Our citizenship is in heaven.”

“My citizenship is in heaven.”

If you believe this, say it! If you don’t believe, don’t say it!

We are Christ’s ambassadors on earth, sent by him from our country, heaven.

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 16 / 2018
  • Comments Off on We need the gospel every day (Acts 10:34-43)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

We need the gospel every day (Acts 10:34-43)

Download Notes in a .MD file

We need the gospel every day

Acts 10:34-43 (Pastor Heo)

10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 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. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen–by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”


Chapter 10 is the story of the conversion of the Gentiles.

Through the ministry of the HS, Peter was used for these things. This is a turning point for the church. This is when God reveals his salvation plan for the WHOLE WORLD. There is no longer Jew nor Gentile, black nor white, slave nor free. We are all ONE in Christ.

In this story, there are two main human characters:

  1. Gentile: Cornelius (Roman soldier)
  2. Jew: Peter

Humanly speaking, Cornelius was a man of devotion, high quality, generosity, regular prayer, but not yet saved – simply because he didn’t yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He did not yet accept Christ as his Savior and Lord.

As a truth-seeker, one day he was praying earnestly – and one day an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Send for Peter in Joppa.” Immediately, he sent his three servants to Joppa.

The next day, Peter was praying at noon. During his prayer, suddenly, something huge like a sheet from heaven came down to earth in front of Peter. It contained all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles. It was unclean to Peter’s eyes.

  • But a voice from heaven said, “Peter, get up, kill and eat.”
  • Peter: “No! I’ve never eaten anything unclean.”
  • God: “Do not call anything unclean that I’ve made clean.”

According to Jewish law, clean becomes unclean by contact with the unclean. If a clean thing touches an unclean thing, ALL become unclean.

This happened three times (the sheet dropping and voice from heaven).

Are you Christian? You/we have contact with non-Christians in our daily lives.

Question:

  • Are you influencing or being influenced by them?
  • Are you affecting them or being affected by them?

This is a serious question today.

Peter was still trying to understand what this vision meant.

At that moment, three men from Cornelius arrived for Peter, and the voice said, “I have sent men, do not hesitate to go with them.”

Maybe they talked much that night, and the next morning they started out for Caesarea to meet Cornelius.

Cornelius was waiting for Peter with his household and friends. We don’t know how many gathered – maybe AICF size? But we can say that this was the FIRST non-Jewish church, the first Gentile church, in church history. Thus, this is the turning point in church history.

Cornelius received him by bowing down before him. Peter said, “No, I’m a man as well!” Then Peter said, “You Gentiles know that we Jews do not associate with Gentiles, but my Lord said, ‘Do not call any unclean that I have made clean.’ Why did you send for me?” Cornelius explained his vision and said, “We are all here to listen to God’s voice through you.”

Are you also ready to listen to the Word of God through my poor English? Look to God.

Whenever the sermon is spoken, focus on Jesus Christ, not my English.

The text we read today is Peter’s 4th sermon in the book of Acts. Actually, Peter speaks 6 sermons:

  1. chp 2: Crowd at Pentecost
  2. chp 3: Crowd at temple
  3. chp 4: Sanhedrin
  4. chp 10: Cornelius and family

v. 34-35

“10:34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”

God is no respecter of persons as far as nationality and race are. All men have the SAME Creator. All men are sinners. All men need the same ONE Savior. In these facts, we are all ONE. Thus, we believe in the universality of salvation. But, we must not believe in the Universalism of salvation.

  • Universalism: Everybody will be saved at last whether or not they trust Christ – because God is TOO good to allow anyone to perish. (This is a tool of Satan to blind people’s eyes to the message of the gospel.) Evangelical Christians reject this doctrine.
  • Universality: God does not show any favoritism nor partiality to anyone who believes in Christ. The only determinant factor is ONLY faith in Christ.

If you believe in Christ, you are saved.

The universal application of Christ’s work on the cross and universal offer of the gospel and salvation are inclusive.

Also we need to be optimistic about what the gospel will do. But we also must (occasionally) be aggressive in preaching the gospel of Christ.

“I’m not ashamed of the gospel, for the gospel is the power of God for EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES in Jesus Christ.”

v. 36

“10:36 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.”

The gospel is the message of peace. It is “good news” of “great joy” – “peace” for all the people – eternally, at the same time. This news is news of peace.

Only in Christ can this kind of peace be found. That’s why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace – this means “Future King” of Peace. Already 700 years before his coming, he was prophesied to be born.

When he was born in this world, the first sign and expression of his birth was this telling of the angels, “Glory to God and Peace on Earth to men~”

Jesus says, “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give as this world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled…”

True peace cannot be found in this world. We cannot find true peace through riches, popularity, possessions, etc.

The Bible says, ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. ‘

Christ has made the TWO, ONE. Jesus’ coming in this world was to create a NEW people out of the two – through his crucifixion. By his crucifixion, Christ killed all hostility between human beings. He preached peace to those who were far away (Gentiles) and those who are near (Jews). There is now no longer any division between Jews and Gentiles in Christ.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by Christ, we have peace with God. Through him we gain access to his grace in which we now stand.”

“I rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

The main message we must be familiar with is the contents of the gospel. The message of the gospel is JESUS CHRIST.

Jesus’ life, His Word, His work, His death, His resurrection, His coming again as judge of living and dead.

From v. 37-42 is the message of the gospel that Peter preached to Cornelius. “We are witnesses of this gospel message.”

v. 37-42

“10:37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen–by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”

This is the core message – the heart of the gospel.

  1. v. 37-38, Jesus’ life
  2. v. 39 Crucifixion
  3. v. 40 Resurrection
  4. v. 41-42 Coming again – and we are witnesses of this message.

We are commanded / ordered to preach this message – because salvation can be found in no one else.

This is very clear. It is very evident that Jesus did not die for his own sins. From Genesis to Revelation, it is said that Christ died for the sins of others – not the sins of a friend, but as a substitutionary offering (propitiation) for the sins of the whole world.

Let me know show SOME of the verses for this.

  • Romans 5:8 “God showed his love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • 1 Cor “Jesus died, and rose again according to the Scriptures.”
  • 2 Cor “God made him who had no sin, become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.”
  • 1 Peter “He bore our sins on the tree so that by his wounds we have been healed.”
  • 1 Peter 3:18 “Jesus Christ died for sins, once for ALL.”
  • Jesus himself says, “I did not come to BE served, but to serve.” – not to be ministered to but to minister and “to give my life as a ransom.”
  • Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd.”

Only Christ can say this. “and the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

Only in Christ can salvation be found.

v. 43 (Memorize)

“10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.””

Amazing! Wow!

This is an amazing declaration. ALL the prophets (including the OT, Moses, Adam, Elijah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Malachi, ) testify about Christ.

Yes, not only the preachers of the NT, but also all the prophets of the OT focus on Jesus Christ. Their message is “everyone who believes in Christ receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Forgiveness of sin can only be obtained in Jesus’ name.

You know “SIN” is the root of all human problems – “for the wages of sin is death.”

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is not one righteous, not even one.”

To repent and believe in Christ are the same thing – with a different expression. You cannot repent without believing in Christ and you cannot believe in Christ without repenting.

Of course, nobody is happy if I say “You’re a sinner” – but we must be very clear in solving the matter of SIN.

Fundamentally, there are FOUR dimensions regarding sin. I hope all of us are very clear in the matter of sin. To be healed, we must know our own secrets. Here are the FOUR dimensions: (worldly judges can only see the first dimension)

Four Dimensions of Sin

1. Behavioral sin

(humans can see and judge this sin) – outward sin – in action – this is related to human morality and ethics: murder, rape, breaking a law, doing something illegal (VISIBLE SIN IN ACTION)

2. Attitudinal sin (invisible)

This is in our hearts, minds, motives. This world cannot judge this kind of sin. We don’t go to prison for our selfishness and pride, greed, envy, jealousy. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” God judges according to our

  1. actions and
  2. motivations / attitudes.

This motivation is very important: Before God, hate is like killing, lust is like adultery (in your heart).

3. Relational sin

This is more crucial – more important than the other two kinds. For example, there are many relationships –

  • Creator / Created,
  • Parent / Child,
  • Boss / Employee,
  • Teacher / Student,
  • Landlord / Tenant,
  • Father / Son –

For me, as father, the BIGGEST sin my son can commit is to DENY me as his father. Likewise, the biggest sin toward God is to deny Christ – God’s one and only Son for us in whom to believe. John 16:9 (in regard to sin) “They do not believe in me.” Do you agree, not to believe in Christ is the BIGGEST sin in this world? If you do not agree, you are wondering if you are saved. If you are really saved, we have no choice but to totally agree. This is indeed the BIGGEST sin before the eyes of God in relational sins.

4. Ontological sin

Existential sin – (Original Sin) – we were BORN as sinners – we’ve inherited it. Since WHEN was I a sinner? From BIRTH. We were born sinners.

I’m Korean. I did nothing to be Korean. I did not choose this. I was born this way simply because my father and mother are Korean. We were born sinners simply because our first physical parents were sinners. This is ontological (original) sin.

How can we solve this matter of original sin? There is only ONE way to resolve it. We must be BORN AGAIN. We should die to our first birth and be regenerated. Jesus, “Do not be surprised by my saying, ‘You must be born again.'” Birth from below is original birth, birth from above is from God. Romans: “Just as death came into the world through one man…”

How can we be born again? Regenerated? ONLY ONE WAY – believing in Christ.

1 Cor “As in Adam, all die, so in one man, Christ, all live.”

All these sins:

  1. Behavioral
  2. Attitudinal
  3. Relational
  4. Ontological

Can ALL be forgiven through Christ.

If you believe, shall we proclaim together:

“The blood of Jesus Christ purifies me from ALL kinds of sins: Past, Present, even Future.”

Let’s pray.

  • Sep 02 / 2018
  • Comments Off on You are an Usher of Christ to the World (Acts 10:1-33)
Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

You are an Usher of Christ to the World (Acts 10:1-33)

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You are an usher of Christ

Acts 10:1-33 (Pastor Heo)

10 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. 5 The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa. 9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.

13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.” 21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?” 22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

24 The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our 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. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”


The first part of chp 10 is the story of the conversion of Gentiles – Cornelius and his relatives. This is a pivotal chapter – a turning point in the history of the church. The one true God, the God of the Hebrews was about to unveil his plan – hidden throughout the ages. There was no Jew or Gentile – all are united in Christ.

Peter was holding the keys to faith.

  • Chp 2 – He opened the door of faith to the Jews.
  • Chp 8 – To the Samaritans
  • Chp 10 – To the Gentiles

This chp 10 happened about 10 years after the Pentecost. God is expanding the growth of the church founded on the crucifixion of Christ on the cross.

Cornelius and his family are the first Gentile converts – they are the beginning of the expansion of the church. This is starting to fulfill the prophecy of Christ (Acts 1:8)

“When the HS comes on you, you will be my witnesses to Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

v. 1-2

“10:1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”

This Caesarea was located on the coast of the Mediterranean – 100 km NW of Jerusalem. It was the largest and most important port city of the sea. It was the capital of its province and the first to have non-Jewish converts and a non-Jewish Christian church.

Cornelius was a centurion (cent = 100) = commander of 100 soldiers (but actually the regiment had 300-600 soldiers). They were the backbone of the Roman legion, doing most of the work – intermediate ranking.

  1. He was a man of devotion – pious, sincere
  2. He was “God-fearing” (In NT times, it is a technical term for Gentiles who were weary of small Roman gods and had attached themselves to the Jewish religion. They studied the Word of God and attended synagogues.)
  3. He was an alms (tithe) giver – so respected even among the Jews
  4. He was a man of prayer (Jews had 3x prayers per day, morning, noon, afternoon (3pm))
  5. He was noble, a man of character, generous giver, a man of prayer
  6. He WAS NOT YET saved

This is the point – he needed to be saved. Later he and his family would be saved through the ministry of Peter.

Why not saved? Because he was a Gentile? No. Because he did not yet believe and receive Christ as his personal Savior and Lord. He did not yet recognize in his heart and with his mouth that “Jesus is Lord.”

We must remember that this is very important.

It is very possible to be:

  1. Nice
  2. Holy
  3. Devout
  4. Pious
  5. A generous giver
  6. A man or prayer
  7. NOT be saved

He was a good example of a very religious person – but the difference between himself and others was that he KNEW his religion enough was not enough to save him. But some “religious” people still think that their good character and behavior will warrant them into heaven.

Please remember, “Salvation is a transformational event that happens immediately to a believer.” That’s why it’s called “rebirth” – “born again.”

Salvation is NOT a step-by-step thing (that is sanctification AFTER salvation).

We know today there are many sects, cults, religions, etc who say, “Yes, we believe in God.” But salvation is found in NO ONE else – except Jesus Christ.

“If you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and confess with your mouth that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

v. 3

“3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!””

He was diligently seeking the truth. So God sent an angel to him. The main job of an angel is to deliver the message of God – angel = “herald.” Angels may deliver God’s message, but they are not able to preach the gospel. This is the responsibility God has given to Man.

v. 4-6

“4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. 5 The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.””

Joppa is 50km from Caesarea. But Cornelius obeyed immediately (he’s a soldier). So, when they arrived at Joppa, they had almost arrived at Simon the tanner’s house, and at noon, Peter was praying on the (flat) roof of the house. (Houses were usually small and crowded with many members – so people went to the roof for privacy.)

Peter was hungry and in a trance, a vision. In this vision, he saw a sheet being lowered from heaven with ALL kinds of animals, birds, and fish.

v. 9-12

“9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air.”

v. 13-16

“13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” 16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.”

  • This happened exactly THREE times.
  • (Look at very 19, THREE men came for him.)

Question:

  • Can you say “No” to your boss? No, you may be fired.
  • So, how can you say “No” to God?

2 Cor 1 “All things can be ‘yes’ in God – to the glory of God.”

  • If God is really your Lord, you cannot say “No”.
  • If you can say “No”, then he is not (yet) really your Lord.

v. 17-20

“17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.””

Next time we will see the message of Peter and their salvation story.

v. 25-33

“25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” 27 Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our 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. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” 30 Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.””

At the end of last Sunday’s sermon, I said Peter was staying in Joppa after he raised Tabitha to life. Then MANY people turned to the Lord after that – but they needed Christian education, so Peter stayed with Simon the tanner for a considerable time.

Actually, this was an “unclean” job according to Jewish standards. So, this was beginning to break down his prejudice against people who were not like him. Why is this important? In the gospel, all barriers are broken down.

In the Bible, “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile.”

  • Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, Greek, slave nor free, we are all one in Christ.”
  • Romans “This righteousness from God comes from faith in Christ.”
  • Romans 10:12-13 “There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles. There is one God who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The Mosaic Law was a barrier between Jews and Gentiles. But this barrier was broken down by Christ’s death on the cross. At the moment of his death, the veil that separated the temple into the Holiest Place and the Holy Place was torn – this was a spiritual symbol.

“Jesus is our peace.”

He has destroyed all barriers between us. His purpose was to create ONE people from the two. He put to death their hostility. He preached peace to the Gentiles and to the Jews. Thus, through Christ we all have access to God through one Holy Spirit.

Do you have any prejudice? “That person is not my style, not my type, not like me.”

Concluding story

(True story in human history)

Mahatma Gandhi

He was a peaceable leader of the resistance against the British Empire’s occupation of India. In his autobiography, he wrote:

In England, he read the Bible very much in his time as a student there. He was very moved, very touched by reading the gospels – especially the Sermon on the Mount (“if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him your left as well”).

He seriously considered becoming a Christian – away from his Hinduism. He thought this might provide a solution to the caste system that divided India.

One Sunday, he went to church and afterward wanted to ask the pastor about salvation. When he arrived, he approached a beautiful sanctuary. But at the gate, an usher stopped him and did not allow Gandhi to enter the sanctuary. “Please go somewhere else – suitable for you.”

After that, he left the church and NEVER came back for his whole life.

Yes, Gandhi liked the teaching of Christ, so he wanted to meet Christ personally. But it was the Christians themselves, not atheists, Hindus, etc, who stopped him from coming to Christ.

Imagine if Gandhi had become a Christian – how much different history would be. We cannot imagine.

Lesson: An usher often has much more authority than a pastor – because if the usher does not let someone in, then they will never hear the message of the pastor.

We often hear the message: “All religions are equal.” No. This is false. Christ alone is the Lord of all humanity and all human beings. Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ.

Remember, whenever we preach the gospel to ANYONE – Jesus confronts them with his strong command and demand to throw away their old values and replace them with himself.

This powerful encounter is indispensable and cannot be avoided – because only Christ Jesus can save.

“Salvation is found in no one else – there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

“I’m an usher of Christ in this world.”

Many churches have made BIG mistakes like this. Even the Korean church – had once separated the church into “men’s side” and “women’s side.”

We must be careful.

“We are all ONE in Christ Jesus.

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen