Acts 10:34-43 (ESV)
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Peter is so focused on the events of the last few days that he starts off explaining that, instead of the gospel. “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Of course, Cornelius invited this when he said, “Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
This highlights one of the key principles in presenting the gospel – be yourself. Canned presentations often sound canned, making them come across as phony. That’s the kiss of death when transmitting truth.
Sure, Peter’s not exactly making idle chit-chat about sports – his opening line is a genuine insight about the nature and scope of the gospel – but it’s still blurting out what’s on his mind.
And it responds directly to Cornelius’s request to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord. This is key. The invitation determines the presentation. Peter has figured out that his vision and the subsequent events amount to a command from the Lord. So, he prefaces his presentation of the gospel with this new insight. He ends with the same point too. “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Everyone means everyone.
Something’s wrong with the way we talk about Jesus. It’s hard to describe, but it’s illustrated by the question, “Did you present the gospel?” A yes or no answer is too simple. You talk to someone about your experiences. They listen and ask questions. You talk about Jesus. Did you present the gospel?
Who knows? I might as well ask, “Did you present algebra?” You don’t “present” algebra; you teach a piece of it. In the same way, you teach some of what it means to know the Lord, but not everything.
We need to be cured of our nervous attitude about sharing the gospel. We seem to either avoid the subject completely or else we unload the whole “gospel dump truck” on their lawn.
Ask the Lord to teach us to talk about Him as naturally as we’d talk about a restaurant we like.
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