A Vision CAN Change The World!
Read Acts 10:1- 33
HLM-Central Sermon for January 22, 2006
Outline borrowed from John Hamby
God had called the people of Israel to a special relationship with Him so that they might be His people, his witnesses, His missionaries to the rest of the world.
God had entrusted them with His Word so that they could tell the rest of the world about Him. They were to be witness that God is, that God exists and that men are to worship and serve Him and Him alone. But somewhere along the way the Jews had forgotten their purpose, instead of proclaiming God they had created barriers between themselves and the rest of the world.
>> God CALLS you to be with Him.
>> Then God CALLS you to tell about Him.
>> Your Personal Salvation for Proclamation.
The Jews had come to believe that salvation was not just “of the Jews” and had been brought to pass through a Jew – the Lord Jesus Christ, but also believed that salvation was primarily “for the Jews.”
It was into such a world that CHURCH was born.
The Apostle Peter, as a good Jew, had been taught, not to have anything to do with a Gentile.
If he touched one even accidentally on the street he would have to go home and wash.
It is easy to see what this attitude, if carried over into the church, would have done to the spread of the gospel. Large areas of the world would have written off as being beyond the grace of God. All of us as Gentile believers would be without Christ.
I. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE VISION vv. 1-8
“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. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.”
>> Cornelius was a military man, a member of a regiment that was made up of freedmen from Italy and who were rewarded with Roman citizenship in recognition of their valor as soldiers.
>> A centurion was a non-commissioned officer, perhaps equivalent to today’s rank of captain, who commanded a group of about 100 soldiers.
>> Cornelius is portrayed as a godly man. We are told that he is “devout” that is that he knows there is a God and he is seeking Him. We are also told that he “fears God” that is that he lives his life as if he is answerable to God. We are also told that he is a generous man, one who gives to those in need. And we are told that he is a praying man.
>> Here is a man that is religious, sincere, prayerful and yet he is not SAVED.
"Peter will tell him, what he will do!" (See remaining verses in Acts 10 -- JESUS was
presented by PETER)
>> The Cornelius’ story, I believe answers the question that many ask, “What about the man who has never heard of Jesus Christ? What about the man who has lived up to the light that he has received, but has never heard of Jesus Christ? What happens to him?” Here is an illustration of what happens to a man like that. When he is obedient to the light he has, God will see that he receives more light. I believe that it is safe to say that any person anywhere in the world who sincerely wants to be right with God and who is sincerely searching for the truth, may be saved. God has ways, of which we know nothing, of getting his word to those who truly seek Him.
II. THE INSPIRATION OF A VISION vv. 9-16
“The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.”
>> For Peter the mixing of the “clean” with the “unclean” animals would have rendered all the animals “unclean” in his mind. Therefore Peter refused to kill and eat any of them.
>> Peter’s response to God’s command to kill and eat was, “Not, so Lord; for I have never eaten anything that was common or unclean” (v. 14).
>> We sometimes define ourselves by the things that we do not do. It is not wrong that there are things that we do not do. What is wrong is defining our spirituality based on the things that we refrain from doing.
>> We joke and say, “I don’t drink, I don’t swear. I don’t smoke and I don’t chew and I don’t go with girls who do.” But the truth is that the world is not impressed by that.
>> What impresses non-believers are homes, cells and churches that are filled with loving acceptance of one another, that is characterized by warmth, joy and peace in the middle of a world where everybody is falling apart on every side. They are impressed when they see we can COPE. And when they see we are CHANGED!
III. THE INTERPRETATION OF THE VISIONvv. 17-22
The vision left Peter confused. While the vision left Peter wondering what in the world was God trying to tell him, the three men from Cornelius came up to the gate and called out if Peter was there.
“Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.”
“We note how perfectly God dovetailed his working Cornelius and in Peter.
>> For while he was praying and seeing his vision, the men from Cornelius were approaching the city (9-16);
>> While Peter was still perplexed about the meaning of what he had seen, they arrived at his house (17-18);
>> While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him that the men were looking for him and that he must not hesitate to go with to go with them (19-20);
>> And when Peter went down and introduced himself to them, they explained to him the purpose of their visit.”
I BELIEVE in DIVINE Coincidences!
HA HA HA!
IV. THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE VISIONvv. 24-33
“And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”
>> First, it was prayer ( v5, 9) on the part of both Peter and Cornelius that made them receptive to God’s leading. Is your prayer life strong enough that God can use it to guide you and give you direction? “E Stanley Jones once said, ‘I find myself better or worse as I pray more or less. It works with almost mathematical precision.”
PRAYER and FASTING is coming!
>> Second, the vision that changed the world began by changing one man. Peter’s attitude was changed, although he was a still a little rough around the edges. The problem is that we are just as selective about those with whom we are willing to share the gospel as Peter and his Jewish brethren were. Do we see those around us as potential believers or do we view them as unreachable? Are there co-workers and family that we have written off as impossible to reach for the kingdom of Christ?
>> Finally don’t forget that when God shows us some NEW TRUTH, He often then gives us an opportunity to act on what we have learned. He often provides situations or circumstances that call upon us to put those principles into action, expect it and welcome the opportunity.
2006 for His Lfie Ministries-Central is
>> 20sites for Outreach!
>> 06months Prepared, Planned, Provided, Prayed for Programming!
May this VISION Change they way you think, pray, participate and give.