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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:
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- [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.
“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:
- Jesus’ life
- His ministry
- His crucifixion
- His resurrection
- 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?
“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:
- To fulfill the Great Commission: Matt 28 (“make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…”)
- 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.
- 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”
- 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:
- Cornelius: Roman, military, rich, centurion
- 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)
“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)
“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.
“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
“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.
- “What did you do WITH Jesus Christ?”
- “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
- 1st: “Did you accept Christ, what he did for you, and love him?”
- Because “no one comes to God except by me.”
- 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?
- Will determine WHERE you spend eternity.
- 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.