Saturday, July 16, 2022

2022.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 10:1–43

Read Acts 10:1–43

Questions from the Scripture text: Who was where (Acts 10:1)? What position did he hold? In what group? What sort of man was he spiritually (Acts 10:2)? Whom else did he lead in this? What did he do to people? In what manner? What did he do to God? How often? At what time did he see what (Acts 10:3)? What did the angel say? How did Cornelius feel (Acts 10:4)? What did he ask? What did the angel say about him? What did the angel tell him to do (Acts 10:5)? Where would this Simon Peter be found (Acts 10:6)? What would Simon Peter do? Whom does Cornelius call in Acts 10:7? What does he do with them (Acts 10:8)? To where are they drawing near in Acts 10:9? Where does God’s providence take Peter at this moment? What hour is it? What does he start to feel at this time (Acts 10:10)? What are the Tanner’s servants still doing? What happens to Peter? What does he see in Acts 10:11? What are in the sheet (Acts 10:12)? Which kinds? What preparation and action is he commanded in Acts 10:13? What objections does he make in Acts 10:14 (both to the kinds, and to the inadequate food prep)? But what does the voice now say about these objections (Acts 10:15)? How many times does Peter persist in his resistance (Acts 10:16)? What does God finally do with the sheet-full of animals in the vision? Now what is Peter doing in Acts 10:17? Who have just done what? What do they do when they get to Simon’s house (Acts 10:18)? Who already knows, and how (Acts 10:19)? What does the Spirit command him to do (Acts 10:20)? To not do? Why? What does Peter do in Acts 10:21? What does he ask? What do they answer in Acts 10:22? What does Peter do that day (even in the Tanner’s house, Acts 10:23)? What does he do the next day? Who go with him? Where do they enter in Acts 10:24? Who is waiting? What has he done? What does Cornelius now do in Acts 10:25? But what does Peter do and say in Acts 10:26? What happens in Acts 10:27? How does he explain why he’s ok with this in Acts 10:28? What does he ask again in Acts 10:29? How does Cornelius describe the circumstances of his vision (Acts 10:30)? How does he summarize the content of the vision (Acts 10:31-32)? What does he conclude is the purpose of his gathering (Acts 10:33)? What does Peter conclude is God’s point to himself (Acts 10:34)? From where does he conclude Cornelius’s righteousness had come (Acts 10:35)? What word does he conclude Cornelius must hear and heed for this acceptance (Acts 10:36)—where had it been sent, what had been preached in it, and through Whom? Where was it proclaimed (Acts 10:37)? After what had been preached? What had God done (Acts 10:38)? And what had Jesus done? What had Peter witnessed being done to Jesus, by whom, in return (Acts 10:39)? But what had God then done (Acts 10:40)? To whom had God shown Jesus openly (Acts 10:41)? And what had Jesus commanded the apostles to do (Acts 10:42)? Testifying to what? What had the prophets witnessed that Jesus would at the judgment (Acts 10:43)? Through what means/mechanism?

How does God save those whom He saves?  Acts 10:1-43 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these forty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God decides whom to save, gives them teachable hearts, sends them the truth about Jesus, and forgiving their sins through faith in Him.

God decides whom to save. Some think that this is partiality, but our passage presents it as exactly the opposite. Peter feels almost hard-wired to reject Gentiles, but we see him lodging them in Acts 10:23 then entering a crowd of them in Acts 10:27. What is his explanation? “God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28) … “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34). There is only one explanation for someone “fearing Him and working righteousness” (Acts 10:35): this person has been accepted by God.

There are many providences by which this is demonstrated in the text. The angel coming to Cornelius. The rooftop vision given to a hungry apostle, and his thrice denial (!) of the command to set aside the ceremonial regulations of the Mosaic administration. The timing of the vision and the arrival of the messengers.

God gives them teachable hearts. Peter was living up to his rocky name. It took the thrice-denial vision and some meditation (Acts 10:19a) just to get him ready for the direct command of the Spirit in Acts 10:20. But the Spirit Who commanded no doubting had also given him no doubting.

As to Cornelius, centurion of the Roman cohort, what can one say? From where did this lover of God and men get his love? He feared God in action with fasting and prayer and good works. He loved men in action, not only their bodies (almsgiving) but their souls (leading his household in fear of God, Acts 10:2; and gathering as many as he could influence to hear about God’s salvation). He was so ready and humble for the Word of God that he mistakenly bowed before the messenger in Acts 10:25, and his readiness to hear not the words of men but as “present before God” in Acts 10:33 is what actually provokes Peter’s confession in Acts 10:34.

But let us not forget the rest of the household. And what a large household it was! They, too, had been brought by God’s providence into a particular household, and then into a particular room, to hear particular preaching on a particular day. This was God’s selective providence to them, every bit as much as the visions had been to the others.

God sends them the preaching of the truth about Jesus. The flesh is obsessed with the sensory and spectacular. It is much impressed by things like the visions that Cornelius and Peter have in our passage. But the visions are servants of the Word. Cornelius’s vision is all a setup for him to hear the Word. Peter’s vision is a setup for him to speak the Word. 

What God could have done by the visions, He chooses to do instead by the sending of a preacher and the preaching of that Word. God is the One Who has joined together the preaching of the Word and faith in Jesus Christ. What God has joined together let no man separate! We must honor preaching as He has honored it. And we must look for His power through preaching, rather than through means that might make more sense to our foolish, fleshly, and arrogant hearts.

And what is it that is proclaimed? That He has made peace with men through Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory Who came to earth to be the anointed one (Acts 10:36). This anointing from heaven was displayed by a baptism on earth (Acts 10:37-38). And it was fulfilled in Jesus’s ministry (Acts 10:38), murder (Acts 10:39), and manifest resurrection (Acts 10:40-41). He showed Himself openly in eating and drinking (Acts 10:41) and continues to show Himself openly in preaching (Acts 10:42).

God forgives sins through faith in Christ. Yes, the last great part of the truth about Jesus is that He is the Judge of the living and the dead (end of Acts 10:42). But the witness of the whole Scripture is that those who believe in Him receive forgiveness of their sins. When they believe that He is indeed the Lord, Who became the Anointed (the Christ), to live perfectly, die atoningly, and rise almightily… when through His Name (His person, His work, through Him Himself) they look to God for forgiveness, they receive it!

God doesn’t save based upon ethnicity. He saves based upon His pleasure, in which He providentially brings people to hear Jesus preached, and gives them hearts to believe in Him!

Who decides who will be saved? What does He do in order to save them? Where can you hear this Jesus proclaimed? Where can you get a teachable heart with which to hear and from which to believe?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that there is no partiality with You. Instead, You save entirely by grace, through faith in Christ. Help us to value preaching as Your appointed method of exercising Your saving power. Make us to sit under it as often as we have opportunity in Your providence, and give us receptive hearts as often as we sit under it. Forgive us through Christ, the great Judge and our resurrected Redeemer, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP67 “O God, Give Us Your Blessing” or TPH517 “I Know Whom I Have Believed”

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