The Gospel to the Gentiles: Acts 10 (6)
Pray Psalm 145.1-3.
I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.
Sing Psalm 145.1-3.
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
I will extol You, God, my King, and ever praise Your Name!
I bless You, Lord, for everything each day, and e’er the same!
Great are You, Lord, my praise I bring; unsearchable Your fame!
Read Acts 10.1-48; meditate on verses 42-48.
1. What happened as Peter began to preach?
2. How did those who came with Peter respond? How did Peter respond?
Peter’s Gospel included the righteousness of Christ (good works) and the sacrificial atonement of the Lord (taking our debt upon Himself) (vv. 38, 39). Also, the resurrection (v. 40), for this is the key to the promise of forgiveness and life, and the warning of judgment to come (v. 42). And it was grounded in Scripture (v. 43).
Peter was the master evangelist. He didn’t prepare this message. The Lord gave it to him, just as He had promised He would (Lk. 21.12-15). Peter had spent the last several years preparing, so he would be ready when needed (1 Pet. 3.15). He knew all the elements of the Gospel, but the Spirit gave Him just the words he needed on this occasion, with this person and his family and friends. Peter’s witness flowed from his experience, his learning, and his sense of calling from the Lord.
The Spirit fell upon those who were hearing (v. 44), and they immediately began to speak in tongues (v. 46). This demonstration served two purposes. First, it established identity with Peter and those who were with him, since this had been their experience as well. Second, it confirmed the moving of God’s Spirit to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Meanwhile, those who were with Peter were filled with wonder (v. 45). Wow! Right in front of their eyes God saved those they would have regarded as the least likely people ever to come to the Lord. God is sovereign in the work of the Gospel. He doesn’t reveal everything to us, but He does give us clear instructions concerning our role in His work. Peter’s readiness, obedience, and discernment must be ours as well, if we are to fulfill our calling as messengers in the ongoing work of Christ.
And God is sovereign in the progress of the Gospel and His Kingdom. We are responsible to hear God’s instructions and follow them explicitly, day by day. God doesn’t reveal His will through visions or dreams, not normally, anyway. But His Word is sufficiently clear: “You shall be My witnesses.” Now we know what that requires.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
This was not a user-friendly presentation of the Gospel. It was not meant to soothe and comfort the Gentiles.
It was preached to show the full extent of Jesus’ suffering on the cross, His resurrection, the observed truth of the historicity of these facts, the Judgment to come for the living and the dead, and the abject need of every person alive to repent and be restored to God through Jesus Christ.
It was a message that resonated with Cornelius and his family and friends; and those who accompanied Peter.
All the hearers were blessed. Some received the gift of the Holy Spirit; some already had the gift but were blessed to see others repent and receive the gift. All participated in the baptisms. All were affirmed and grew through Peter’s preaching. “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4.12, 13).
Peter preached the whole truth. An inconvenient truth for some, and life-giving power for others.
I fear that many pastors today are remiss in preaching the whole truth to their sinful, and hard to please congregations. Paul spoke of this same fear: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4.3, 4 NASB).
This is why the qualifications for pastors are so Biblically stringent. “For a bishop/overseer/pastor must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1.7-9).
It is so important that all the Gospel is preached. Not just the palatable part. Or the pleasing part. But the Gospel according to Peter, and Paul, and Jesus. The Gospel that causes the Holy Spirit to fall into a heart. That produces power and changed lives. That Gospel. Not the watered-down version that permeates so many churches today. Tickled ears never produce fruit. They just feel right jolly about themselves.
What a tragedy it would have been for Cornelius, for the Church, and for all of us who followed, if Peter had only preached a user-friendly sermon.
1. How would you summarize the Gospel as Peter preached it?
2. Why do we need to preach the whole Gospel, and not just the “palatable” or “pleasing” parts?
3. What is the Spirit’s role in communicating the Gospel? What is ours?
God declareth now by a new miracle, that the doctrine of the gospel is common as well to the Gentiles as to the Jews. And this is an excellent seal of the calling of the Gentiles; because the Lord would never have vouchsafed to bestow upon the Gentiles the graces of his Spirit, unless it had been to declare that even they were adopted together into the society of the covenant. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Acts 10.44
Pray Psalm 145.13-21.
Pray that God’s Spirit would work in the hearts of people everywhere, to create in them a longing for life, peace, and joy, and to open them to the Good News of Jesus. Pray that God will revive us, His people, and help us to recover our calling as witnesses for the Lord.
Sing Psalm 145.13-21.
(Brother James’ Air: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want)
Your Kingdom evermore shall be; You reign forever, Lord!
Your works You do so faithfully, according to Your Word.
The falling You uphold and the oppressed You rescue, Lord!
The eyes of all look up to You to meet our needs each day.
Open Your hand, provide the food we need, O Lord, we pray!
Kindness and righteousness You do, O Lord, in every way!
Be near to all who call on You; all those who fear You, bless.
Preserve all those whose love is true; save us in our distress.
Our mouths will speak with praise of You; Your holy Name we’ll bless!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.