Acts Chapter 10
The Case of Cornelius
Cornelius is a saved man BEFORE Peter came to speak to him. Cornelius is assured that God accepts him in walking according to the light he has.
Verse 4-"Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God"
NO work is recognized in Scripture as good and acceptable before God except it proceeds from faith. People are saved by faith in Christ. This is the promised Christ-the present Christ, (while He was on earth) and the past Christ (who is now in heaven-His work complete)
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Verse 4-Cornelius was pleasing to God. He believed God. He had faith in God. Cornelius was saved.
Many religions have "a faith" in God coupled with a faith in man, (another gospel) THIS is not the SAVING FAITH.
Saving faith is believing Gods Word. Nothing added, nothing taken away.
The Old Testament as committed to the Jews promised a Messiah to come. Cornelius believed and submitted to this prophecy. What he did he did in that faith, and was accepted of God in that faith.
God speaks of the unregenerate
Rom 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
God speaks of His people:
Jer 32:40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
Also in Acts 9:31
Verse 2--Cornelius feared God. Cornelius was saved
Cornelius prays and gives alms in the fear of God. He is a religious man and keeps his family in this religion. He is accepted of God in this religion of believing the prophecies of a coming Messiah., and yet there is something further that he ought to do.
He that believes the promise of the Messiah must now believe the fulfillment of that promise. Now that God has given a further record, (A New Testament) concerning his Son than what had been given by the Old-Testament prophecies he requires that we receive this when it is brought to us.
You see-people are saved according to the light they have received of Jesus Christ. Up until Peters visit to him, Cornelius had received only the "promise" of Christs coming as did the Jews, before Christ came and revealed Himself to them. Cornelius believed this promise. He was saved in believing that promise without animal sacrifices, because he was a Gentile. Sacrifices and the law of ordinances were only for the Jews.
It really wasnt the animal sacrifices that saved the OT Jews, is was their performance of this IN FAITH.
Now that Christ had come, Cornelius is required to believe this too. Peter is sent to convey this message to him. You see-until Christs death on the cross and resurrection, belief in the Law and the prophets were salvation to not only the Jews, but to "all" men. The vast majority of the Jews rejected the prophesied Messiah when He came.
When light, which was foretold of old is rejected, those Christ rejecters who were saved under the Law are now "fallen from grace. Those who were saved under the Old Covenant and were still alive when the New Covenant was established, (When Christ died on the cross) and rejected Christ, (refused to believe that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah) are now lost.
This is his commandment, that we believe that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah . This is now the "new" way and the "only" way to salvation.
If Cornelius didnt believe Peter when he told him about Jesus Christ, he would have fallen from grace. If he didnt believe that the man Jesus who died a short time before was the promised Messiah he would have been lost then and there.
Some may wonder why, if Cornelius was saved by believing the promise, just leave well enough alone-let him die in due time a "guaranteed" saved man. BUT-God wants to give glory to His Son. Believing a promise is one thing, but believing the fulfillment of that promise is another.
Before Christs coming it was only necessary to believe in the Messiah-the seed of a woman. But after He appeared on earth and was preached to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles it was necessary to believe that the MAN JESUS was the CHRIST or MESSIAH after He was pointed out to be the Son of God, by God and other witnesses.
In Chapter 11 Peter is telling of his visit with Cornelius. Peter adds to the account of the angels visit to Cornelius (verse 14)
Acts 11:13-14 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter. Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
This does not prove Cornelius was not "till then" accepted by God anymore than the commission to preach the gospel proved that those in Jerusalem were not accepted by God until they heard the gospel of the death and resurrection of Christ. But God was about to give Cornelius "new light" and a new commandment-This is my beloved Sonhear ye Him. He heard "God" before, now he is to hear "Jesus Christ".
Cornelius didnt need to hear the gospel to be saved. This is what he "ought" to do. He is already saved. Belief in the gospel of Christ Jesus is salvation. The gospel is that Christ died and was buried and was resurrected. This is salvation-believing it was "going" to happen, (Old Testament) or that it "already" happened. (New Testament).
Old Testament. Before Christ died, God gets the glory
New Testament. After Jesus Christ died, Christ Jesus gets the glory
SIDE NOTE Prayers and alms are accepted by God from those that believe that the Lord is God, and have not opportunity of knowing more; but, to whom it is preached that Jesus is Christ, it is necessary that they believe this, and rest upon him alone for acceptance.
Man may worship and pray to an unknown god or to a god of his or her own imagination, but they cannot pray to the true God without believing in Him as HE revealed Himself to man through HIS Word.
Until Christs righteousness is imputed to us by faith, our prayers and our good works are an abomination to God. (Isaiah 64:6) The prayers of lost (unregenerate) people are not heard by God, much less answered. They are loathed, hated and evil to Him.
If the prayers of the spiritually lost would be heard and perhaps answered by God, then we could merely pray the "sinners prayer" and be saved. This would be a salvation of works. But if God doesnt recognize our works before salvation, neither will He recognize or acknowledge our prayers.
Works done before we receive the righteousness of Christ cannot merit salvation, and works done after salvation can add nothing to it. It is a GIFT.
Salvation in not dependent upon any qualification or condition of the receiver. It is given to the most unworthy and it supplies the lack of all qualifications and conditions. It is given to the unrighteous and the ungodly and it cannot permit any work done after receiving it to add to it. This is impossible because it is eternally perfect. It is the righteousness of God and CANNOT be improved upon.
The fruits of this salvation will be evident of righteousness "in us", but will not be "of us" If salvation were to make US righteousness, that would be going about to establish our own righteousness, and would not submit us to the righteousness of Christ.
Only man is to deliver the gospel.
Notice that Cornelius has an angel from heaven talking to him, and yet he must not receive the gospel of Christ from this angel. All that the angel has to say is, Verse 6.Send for Peter, and he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.
To bring a faithful minister and a willing people together is a work worthy of an angel. Angels unite the Messengers of Christ with Gods elect.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Man cannot give the Holy Ghost, but it comes when Gods Word is believed. Peter was still preaching the gospel of Christ when the Holy Ghost came on them that heard, because they believed as he was yet preaching. They didnt have to wait and speculate on what he preached.
They received the Holy Ghost while the New Testament gospel was still being preached because they were believers of the Old Testament gospel BEFORE the New was preached.
ALL SAVED HAVE HEARD THE NEW TESTAMENT GOSPEL. All those that died believing the Old Testament gospel were delivered the New Testament gospel before they went to heaven.
1 Pet 3:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
On the day of Pentacost, Peter had exhorted his hearers to repent, to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 above). At Caesarea, this order of events was changed, and the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and his family "before" they were baptized. This was not a new Pentecost but an extension of Pentecost to include the Gentiles.
The Holy Ghost came upon the Gentiles before they were baptized. As Abraham was justified by faith, being yet uncircumcised to show that God is not tied to a method, nor confines himself to external signs. The Holy Ghost fell upon those that were neither circumcised nor baptized. The Holy Ghost comes upon believing in faith
Cornelius was a spiritual worshiper of God under the Old Testament. All in Israel and many others professed to be looking and waiting for the Messiah. This coming of Christ was to be the test of their sincerity. It was to show if he would remain faithful in the day of His coming and if he would deny Him when He appeared.
Cornelius was the FIRST example to the world that the Gentiles were included in the promises of God. God had to prepare Peter to go to this Gentile by the vision on the rooftop.