Good News For Everyone–Especially Religious People

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), November 11

unknownCornelius, a Roman centurion, is probably one of the most respected men in the city of Caesarea—“a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). Even his servants esteem him highly as a “just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews” (10:22). As good as Cornelius was, though, it isn’t enough. Not for Peter, and not for the Gospel.

Adam’s descendants divide into two groups: those in Seth’s lineage, who live in light of the promise of a coming Redeemer, and everyone else. The gospel promise is for anyone who dares to believe. Some do. Some don’t.

Later in His Story, the LORD designates Abraham as the one through whom the Messiah will come, telling him, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). Abraham’s grandson Jacob identifies Judah as the one through whom the Messiah will come, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (49:10).

The LORD isolates the Jews as the people through whom He will send the Messiah, but the Messiah comes to anyone who will repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith in His substitutionary death.

Peter’s struggle reflects that, somewhere along the way, the Jewish people have mistakenly assumed that the Messiah will only come for them. The Lord interrupts Peter’s false assumption with a series of visions: “He fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound let down at the four corners, descending to him and let down 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’” (Acts 10:11-12). God uses these visions to show Peter that the Gospel is good news for everyone—that “in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (10:35). Cornelius and his family respond to the gospel and are saved, baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit, just as the believing Jews were! Good news for believing Gentiles!

The conversion of Cornelius and his family creates quite a stir in Jerusalem. After hearing Peter’s explanation, the apostles and brothers in Jerusalem “glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (11:18).

Two truths about the gospel emerge from this story:

  • The Gospel is for anyone who dares to believe in Christ and submit to Him as Lord and Savior.

  • No man is too bad or too good for the gospel. Even religious people must bow to Jesus Christ as Lord and trust him as Savior.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Acts 10:1-12:5):
How does the Lord confront and correct the prejudices of the early church and her leaders?
What precipitated the movement of the gospel beyond the borders of Israel? How does the church in Jerusalem respond to the salvation of the Hellenists? Describe Paul and Barnabas’ relationship.