Sunday, May 27, 2012

From Acts to Revelation: Part 28 - Peter's Vision

From Acts to Revelation
Part 28 – Peter's Vision
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Last week we spoke about Cornelius, a God-fearing Centurion who was a Gentile, seeking God with all his heart, mind and soul.

God seeing this, gave Cornelius a vision, speaking to him about a man named Peter living in Joppa.  The Lord told Cornelius to seek him out and speak with him.

Cornelius, seeking a relationship with God, was being led to the Gospel message of Salvation.

Acts 10:9-23 Peter's Vision
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”
22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.” 23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

a.      He prayed alone at noon on a rooftop

i.       Jesus often went off to pray alone as well
a.      Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

b.     Luke 5:16 “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

b.     He fell into a trance
i.       This was not of his own doing, but the Holy Spirit opening Peter's eyes

ii.    vs 11 “...and Heaven opened up...”
a.      Heaven is now “open” because of Christ and the Cross

iii. This meditative state of mind is a connection between our world, and the dimension in which God and His Kingdom resides.

c.      The vision came
i.       Peter sees a table cloth with all sorts of forbidden animals come down from heaven. The list of these can be found in Leviticus 11.

ii.    How do we know they are the forbidden animals of Leviticus?
a.      Because Peter tells us so in verse 14 when he specifically says, “Lord, I have never eaten anything that is unclean.”

iii. Three times the Lord shows this table cloth full of “unclean” animals, and tells Peter, “Kill and eat. Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

a.      “Surely not Lord!”
i.       Peter had observed the Jewish laws, and had never eaten anything impure.

b.     “Do not call anything impure...”
i.       This list of impure foods includes;
a.      vs 4 ‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

b.     10 But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to regard as unclean. 11 And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean. 12 Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.

c.      13 “‘These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle,[a] the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

d.      20 “‘All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be regarded as unclean by you. 21 There are, however, some flying insects that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. 22 Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. 23 But all other flying insects that have four legs you are to regard as unclean. 24 “‘You will make yourselves unclean by these; whoever touches their carcasses will be unclean till evening. 25 Whoever picks up one of their carcasses must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening.

c.      Dietary laws and the Cross
i.       These laws were given to the Levites, they were the priesthood. These laws were not only a test of obedience, and a loving provision for the health and happiness of the people, but they give a humbling picture of the weakness and corruption of the fallen human nature.

ii.    These laws were given, as were all the laws, to show our need for a savior, and just as the holidays, commandments and all other things given to us by God, they all point to the need and purpose for Christ, as well as what His atoning sacrifice has accomplished.

iii. To say we “must” still obey the Kosher laws of foods, is to say we “must” still sacrifice animals for the covering of our sins, or to say Christ has not accomplished what He set out to do.

iv.   The Lord is telling Peter in this vision, “Do not call impure or unclean what God has MADE clean.”
a.      How has God made these things clean? Christ and the Cross.

b.     What does the impure food made clean by God represent? The Gentiles.

a.      Peter did not know what the vision meant
i.       We see from scripture Peter was not sure exactly what the vision meant.

ii.    But God was preparing Peter for his work with the Gentiles.

iii. Peter's mind needed to be opened, and his understanding of God's plan expanded if he was to understand that what was once impure (the Gentiles), was now “Made clean” by Christ and the Cross!

b.     God speaks again
i.       The Lord reveals to Peter that there are men wanting to speak with him.

ii.    So he comes down from the roof to speak with them.

c.      Peter obeys, although he does not fully understand
i.       They are the men that Cornelius the Centurion sent

ii.    Cornelius had a vision, and the Lord revealed to him that he needed to speak with Peter, who could be found in Joppa, staying with Simon.

iii. Cornelius sent men to fetch Peter.

So what was the purpose of the vision?

To open Peter's mind, so that he would understand that what God has made clean, no man can call impure.

Christ's atoning sacrifice on the Cross was not just for the Jew, but also the gentile.

Peter begins to understand when the Centurion's men show up and request Peter to speak with Cornelius. These men, although God-fearing, were Gentiles.

And although they were God-fearing, they were NOT saved, because they had not yet heard the message of the Cross.

Cornelius, being a faithful man, was truly seeking the Lord, and God made a way for him to receive the message that would put him in a right relationship with God.

Seek, and ye shall find...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

From Acts to Revelation: Part 27 - Cornelius

From Acts to Revelation
Part 27 – Cornelius
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


We are looking at the entire book of Acts, discovering how the first church began, and operated.

We see many difficulties they endured, as well as how they dealt with the trials and tribulations of being a new founded group of believers.

Acts began with the ascension and command of Christ, leading the believers to communion with the Holy Spirit. The church then dispersed from Jerusalem, escaping the grasp of the Sanhedrin, as a result, growing in numbers as they traveled to Judea and Samaria.

We see that Saul, with permission from the Sanhedrin, left Jerusalem to hunt the men and women who were followers of Christ, so they could be brought back to Jerusalem and imprisoned.

On his way, Saul met with the Lord who revealed He was Jesus Christ.

Saul submitted to the Lord, who gave him a command, and he obeyed, traveling to see Ananias, who had also spoken to the Lord, and healed Saul's blindness.

Saul was then baptized, received the Holy Spirit, and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last week we looked at Aeneas and Tabitha, and this week we will be looking at a Centurion named Cornelius, and how religious and kind acts do not equal salvation.

However, fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and when you seek God with your entire heart, as Saul did, the lord will bring you to the place you need to be so that you may find that which you are seeking.

Loving God with all your heart, will always lead you to Christ.


Acts 10:1-8
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.
The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

a.      Cornelius is a Roman Centurion in the Italian Regiment
i.       A Centurion was leader of 100 Roman soldiers

b.     Scripture says he was a “very religious man”
i.       He and ALL his family were devout

ii.    He and ALL his family were God-fearing

iii. He gave generously to those in need

iv.   He prayed to God regularly

v.      All the works seem to be in place!

c.      Religion is not salvation
i.       Remember what God says about religion?

ii.    Amos 5:21I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.” Their hearts were not right with God.

iii. Hebrews 10:11Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can save!

iv.   Acts 26:5They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee.”

a.      Saul, living in the strictest sect, living as a Pharisee, yet, until Christ, he was not saved!

d.     Works will never save you
i.       No matter how great they may be

ii.    No matter how pleasing to God they are!
a.      We see in scripture that everything Cornelius did,Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Were pleasing to God…but did NOT SAVE HIM!

e.      Many times I hear people say
i.       I do this, or I do that, therefore…thinking their works have justified them.

ii.    And I will correct them, saying, “But God says…”

iii. And they respond, “Well, I think…” disregarding the scripture.
a.      It does NOT matter what you think
1.      If you think it does, that is pride and arrogance.

b.     You better get your heart and mind right with what God SAYS! And put HIS WORD ABOVE what you think!

c.      Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
1.      You need to change your thinking!
2.      Your former thoughts are corrupted by your deceitful desires
3.      You need to think with a new mind, a mind like Christ!

d.     Colossians 3:2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

a.      Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
i.       Respect, honor, reverence, this is the beginning of wisdom. You cannot seek God, until you have the proper reverence toward Him.

b.     Seek, and ye shall find
i.       From Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.” to Luke 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
ii.    Throughout the scripture, we are told, if we are truly seeking God, we will find Him!
a.      Just as Saul, and Cornelius

c.      The angel called Cornelius by name

d.     He gave him the direction to the Gospel, but not the Gospel
i.       Angels never give the Gospel, that is the privilege of man

e.      Cornelius obeyed
i.       The re-occurring theme in Acts
a.      Men seek God
b.     The Lord meets with men
c.      Men submit to the Lord
d.     The Lord gives a command
e.      The men obey
f.       Men are now in a “right” relationship with God because of their submission and obedience to Christ!

a.      Because Cornelius had proper reverence for God, He was seeking the Lord in his heart, just like Saul.

b.     God answered this, and gave Cornelius the way to the Gospel.

c.      Cornelius sent 2 servants and a devout soldier to Joppa to bring Peter back.

i.       Notice again in scripture, how specific God's messengers are!
a.      Told Cornelius to get PETER
b.     Told him Peter was in JOPPA
c.      Told him what house he was staying in! Living with Simon the tanner.
d.     Even told him his house was by the sea-side!

d.     Cornelius shared his experience with the men before sending them off.


Religious acts, behavior and works will NEVER save you!

But fear (reverence) for God will always lead you to Christ!

When you seek God with all your heart, He will bring you to the cross, there you must submit, repent, then obey what Christ commands.

Then, and ONLY THEN, will you be in a right standing with God.

This is the ONLY way to Salvation.