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 | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org

INTRODUCTION

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.



SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

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.


I.       RELIGIOUS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE SALVATION
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.”



II.    FEAR OF GOD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM
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!


III. DIRECTED TO THE GOSPEL
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!
e.      GOD'S TRUE MESSENGERS AND PROPHETS ARE ACCURATE AND 100% CORRECT, 100% OF THE TIME!

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


CONCLUSION

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.