The Friends and Family of Cornelius (B.J. Clarke)

I want to describe someone to you and ask you to make a mental assessment of this person very very devoted as a matter of fact everyone that knows him has a high regard for him even people that are not of the same race as he is he is highly respected and regarded one of the things that makes him this way is that he gives money to all kinds of needy people he’s always looking for opportunities to be benevolent he has got a heart full of gold and compassion for others this is the one of the most prayerful men you could ever find he’s always in prayer to God very very regular in prayer to God and believes in God with every fiber of his being he knows there is a God in heaven he’s absolutely sure of it and he spent a lot of his time trying to make sure that his family believes in that same God and follows that same God the man have just described to you what’s your assessment of him lost or saved what would you say I know it’s so easy for us to think well a man like that would have to be saved but I’m standing here this morning to tell you that he was lost in this condition he’s so wait a minute who are you to judge well I’m not making that judgment I’m letting the Word of God be the Word of God in this case and telling you what God’s Word says of course many of you already know I’m talking to you about the Centurion Cornelius C was a Gentile and if you’ll locate your Bible in Acts chapter ten locate Acts chapter 10 in your Bible we will get a glimpse at this man and I will prove to you that he was indeed a man that was a very good man and yet was lost when Peter tells about this man in Acts chapter 11 and verse 14 he tells of how the man who was told to send for Peter who would come and tell him Cornelius words whereby he and all of his house might be saved acts 11:14 Cornelius as we meet him is described and let’s just do this to make it even more come alive even more if you’ll go with me to Acts 10 and divide it into three scenes let’s go to scene number one the place Caesarea it’s right on the Mediterranean Sea coast in fact it was built by Herod the Great as a seaport and it was the most prominent seaport of its day and as we think about Caesarea main character number one is introduced to us Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 and verse 1 there was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius a Centurion of the Italian band of the band called the Italian band the scripture says and then look at this description a devout man one that feared God with all his house which gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always and while we’re watching him about three o’clock in the afternoon verse three he sees a vision in which an angel of God speaks to him and the angel does not tell him what to do to be saved but he tells him this in verse number four when he cried out and said what is it Lord he said well Cornelius thy prayers and thine alms are come up as a memorial before God in other words God knows about how much you’ve been trying to seek Him God is aware of how much you want to talk to him and how much you have been benevolent toward others God has recognized these deeds that you’ve done but what you need to do is verse 5 send men to Joppa now Joppa is about 30 miles away down the Seacoast and as Caesarea is 30 miles from Joppa that’s a pretty good distance back in that day and time they didn’t just hop in a car and get there in a few minutes and so this was a some kind of journey that would need to be undertaken you’ll notice you need to call for one Simon whose surname is Peter verse 5 he’s lodging with another man named Simon he’s a Tanner and his house is by the seaside he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do now when you read verse 7 the angel that spoke to Cornelius left what does Cornelius do you have to admire this man’s urgency does he say well it’s already 3 o’clock in the afternoon I think we’ll just wait till morning no no watch what he does he calls two of his household servants and a devout soldier that waited on him continually and he told them everything that had just happened and verse 8 says simply he sent them to Joppa now they didn’t have streetlights back then and they didn’t have lights on their chariots and they didn’t carry flashlights so to leave at three o’clock in the afternoon for a thirty mile journey was indeed showing a great deal of urgency he took this command with great urgency he wanted to hear what God had to say through this preacher now let’s go to scene number two it’s the next day and the place we’re now in is Joppa there in Joppa Peter is upon the housetop it’s about noon and he’s praying and he was very hungry and the Bible says while they made the preparation for the food he fell into a trance and watch what he sees verse 11 heaven opens up a certain vessel descends unto him it’s a great sheet it’s knit at the fore corners and within this great sheet he sees all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth and wild beasts and creeping things and fowls of the air these are the kinds of things under the law of Moses you couldn’t eat and yet here’s a voice that says rise Peter kill and eat verse 13 and then Peter bless his heart is so often known for saying great things but also says some things that are not so great and really though he means well here you don’t say the words not so and then follow them with the word Lord if he’s really your Lord you don’t say not so to him you do what he asks and when the voice tells him rise Peter kill and eat verse 14 Peter said not so Lord I have never eaten anything common or unclean and I’m not about to start now is the idea and so the voice comes back the second time and says well if God is cleansed it don’t you call it common or unclean and this happened three times total and then the vessel is received up into heaven again and Peter’s left to wonder what it all means and while he’s trying to figure out what this vision he’s received meant the household servants of Cornelius have arrived now watch if you will please what happens next they called for Peter and Peter’s thinking about this and the Spirit speaks to Peter verse 19 at a time when the spirit did such things and he said three men are seeking you you need to go down go with them doubting nothing I have set them all right so in verse 21 Peter went down to the men that were sent to him from Cornelius he said I’m the one you’re looking for and they said and if you don’t believe Cornelius was a good man watch this these are the men that were in under his command and people who work under someone will often tell you exactly everything that they can tell you about someone because of the their manner and demeanor and the way in which they lead and they said this Cornelius this and Torian a just man one that feareth God and of good report now get this among all the nations of the Jews Cornelius is a Gentile that’s right and the Jews and the Gentiles did not get along very well that’s right you talk about racial prejudice listen there’s a statement that was made back in that time that I’ve often heard and repeated and that is this some Jews had made a statement like this the only reason that God made Gentiles his soil would have something with which to fuel the fires of hell now that’s racial prejudice if I’ve ever heard it and so there’s you’re telling me that these Jews looked at a Gentile named Cornelius and thought he was top knocks that’s right what does that tell you about Cornelius when generally Jews didn’t think so favorably about the Gentiles he was an extraordinary man and the Bible tells us that he had a good rapport among all the Jews and watch this verse 22 he was warned from God by Holy Angel to send for thee to his house to hear words of thee and so he calls them in and loves them the next day Peter went away with them and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied did we know from Acts 11:6 Jewish brothers make the journey with Peter alright now let’s go to scene number three it’s the next day and they enter into Caesarea and Cornelius is waiting for them now I love this what is Cornelius done while he’s waiting for the preacher to come he’s called his kinsman his relatives he’s called his near friends now what is this this is your friends and family day right Cornelius called his family he called his friends and he said there’s a preacher coming the gospel is going to be preached the message of God is going to be preached he didn’t understand all about the gospel and much as he would in a few minutes when Peter got done with him but I want you to know the Cornelius anticipating that the preaching of God’s message was going to occur has gone out and invited his friends and family and he’s not even a Christian yet and I’m not accusing I’m just asking I’m just asking how many of those of us who are Christians are as good at inviting people to come to church with us as Cornelius was before he became a Christian in inviting people to come and hear God’s Word preached how many Cornelius has gone out before he even became a child of God and he’s invited all of his kinsmen and near friends Peter is coming in and Cornelius he’s a Centurion right that means he’s in charge of a hundred men he’s a military man and a lot of commanders have a very arrogant haughty attitude they’re going to tell you what to do but they won’t listen to anyone tell them what to do and that you’d better respect them and show them respect but they’re not about to show respect to anyone else look even though it was ill-advised and Peter lets him know that Cornelius falls down at the feet of Peter and worships him would you say he has a receptive attitude toward the man that’s just arrived on the scene he hasn’t tuned him out before he ever started speaking in fact if anything he’s gone overboard and Peter has to tell him look stand up I’m just a man I’m I myself as a man I’m just a man like you stand up stand up come on and so he talks with him he went in found many that were come together imagine Peter walks in and here’s a big crowd for friends and family day and Peter begins to listen he says verse 28 you know how it’s an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or one come unto one of another nation but God has showed me Peter says I shouldn’t call any man common or unclean that’s what he’s deduced from the vision that he’s seen and therefore I came to you without gain saying I didn’t try to argue or quibble about coming to the Gentiles and I asked for what intent have you sent me now Cornelius speaks up four days ago I was fasting until this very hour and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house and behold a man stood before me in bright clothing and said Cornelius that prayer is heard then alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God send therefore to Joppa called hither Simon whose surname is Peter he’s lodged in the house of one Simon a Tanner by the seaside who when he cometh shall speak unto thee Cornelius how quickly did you do that verse 33 immediately therefore immediately therefore I sent to thee you’ve well done that you’re come thank you for coming and I love this next statement now therefore are we all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God in the Bible class we pointed out some things we ought to think about everyday there is a God in heaven did Cornelius believe there was a God in heaven he feared him greatly and taught his family about him that the Bible is the Word of God and though the Bible had not been completed in Cornelius day did he have respect for the Word of God so much so that when he knew it was going to be preached to him he called people together and said you need to come and hear it and the third point we made in Bible class this morning was God is watching us God sees all that we’re doing Cornelius do you believe that look at verse 33 immediately I sent to them you’ve well done that thou are come here it therefore are we all here present before God yes God is watching us and he knows what we’re about to hear and he knows we’ll be accountable for what we’re about to hear and so Cornelius says we want to hear what you have to say now at this point in verse 34 Peter opens his mouth he says of a truth I perceive God is not a face-looker that’s the literal meaning in the original language of what stated six times in the New Testament God is no respecter of persons literally God is not a face-looker aren’t you glad I am God doesn’t look at my face and then decide whether he’ll love me or not he doesn’t look at the color of my skin whether I’m a Jew or Gentile and then decide whether he’s going to love me or not he loves all men and Peter says in verse 35 in every nation if you fear him and work righteousness you’ll be accepted of him and then he starts preaching the story of Christ look at what he says in verse number 36 the word God sent to the children of Israel preaching peace by Jesus Christ he’s Lord of all Cornelius you may be commander of a hundred men there’s someone that’s the commander of us all the Lord of us all and that’s the one I’m preaching to you verse 38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit he gave him the spirit without measure John 334 and with power and he went about doing good and healing and all that were oppressed God was with him we’re witnesses of all the things he did in the land of the Jews in Jerusalem and they slew him and hung him on a tree crucified him yes God raised up him on the third day and showed him openly God really does love us he took Christ and sent him so that he could be our Savior and notice in verse number 30 42 he commanded us to preach to the people to testify that is he which was ordained of God to be the judge God will judge us to be the judge of the quick in the dead to him give all the prophets witness and through his name if you’ll believe in him you’ll receive remission of sins Peter speaking in the holy spirit falls on Cornelius and the others the Gentiles and Peter’s astonished by this all of the circumcision the Jews are ston –is– because poured out on the Gentiles is the same thing that had been poured out on Pentecost and they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God and watch what Peter says in verse 47 can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized which have received the Holy Spirit as as well as we and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and they prayed him to tarry certain days now with the story well in hand let us observe very quickly four points that just jump off the page at us as we think about this account number one it takes more than being a good moral man to be saved it takes more than being a good moral man to be saved now we’ve got some folks in here your good old boys you give the shirt off of your back to anyone that needed it Cornelius was very much like that he would give whatever he had to help those who were in need he was a great man in that record department but I want to ask you a question was that enough to save him this man who was so generous was indeed so moral and devout was still lost needing to hear words whereby he and all his house might be saved why was he lost he didn’t have the blood of Christ applied to his sin-stained soul as perfect as the good of Managed they was he wasn’t a perfect man and he needed the blood of Christ just as every one of us starting behind me and coming forward needed four of a countable mind and age God has a plan for our salvation but it is the blood of Christ not our own good deeds that will say of us and so you might have come here today thinking well I’m a pretty good fella I don’t do a lot of bad things and I try to be kind to my neighbors and I try to do all kinds of good moral things that’s wonderful but my friends it’s not enough it’s not enough to be saved for you anymore than it was Cornelius and be Hardiman was a great great preacher that I never got to hear in person I cut my eye teeth as a young preacher on his NB Hardiman Tabernacle sermons and one of them I really really remember readings he was talking about Cornelius and he made this statements always stuck with me stand up and have your moral portrait made beside the portrait of Cornelius and you might be might be able to equal him but you won’t be able to surpass him as moral a man or woman as you may be you couldn’t be any more moral than Cornelius was you couldn’t be any more generous or devout than he was as described by scripture and yet if he needed to hear words whereby he might be saved what makes us think that our morality will cancel out our need for the blood of Christ every single one of us needs the blood of Jesus Christ because every single one of us has transgressed God’s law first John 3:4 if we’re old enough to have been accountable to do that and so point number one it takes more than good moral character to save here’s number two it takes more than being a sincere religious person to be saved let me ask you a question true or false Cornelius as we meet him in acts 10 was very very religious devout man feared God with all of his house gave much alms to the people prayed to God all this sounds like a religious man to me and yet lost and please file this away and think about it with me please I want you to stop and think about the fact that you might have come here today as a very religious person you might be someone that’s commonly in attendance at worship services you might be someone that is commonly found reading your Bible and praying to God on a regular basis and you may have allowed what you’ve read from God’s Word to govern you and make you a devout person as far as morals are concerned and as far as generosity is concerned but my friends hear me carefully please you couldn’t be any more religious than Cornelius was and yet he was lost would you hold your place in acts 10 and go with me to Matthew 7 I want you to see something that’s sobering these folks were religious – they weren’t atheists they weren’t secularists who didn’t believe in God in Matthew chapter 7 and verse number 21 jesus said not everyone that says to me Lord Lord Cornelius do you believe there’s a God in heaven yes do you believe in His Son Jesus Christ well I don’t know about him yet Peter’s going to preach about Christ – Cornelius does he need to hear about Jesus Christ yes my friends I want you to watch next it’s not everyone that says Lord Lord that shall enter into the kingdom of heaven it’s the person that does the will of the Father in heaven and verse 22 many will say to me in that day Lord Lord have we not prophesied in thy name in thy name cast out devils watch in thy name done many wonderful works Cornelius could have said I’ve done a lot of wonderful things for people Cornelius if you don’t have Jesus Christ as your Savior you’re lost in spite of all the good things that you’ve done now when we talk about friends and family turn to Matthew 12 and let’s make sure we’re friends and family of Jesus Christ how do we know that we are friends and family of Christ well here’s the way to know if you’re in this family in Matthew 12 and verse 46 he’s talking to the people and gets word his mother and half-brothers want to have a word with him and then he asked a question in Matthew 12 48 well who is my mother who are my brethren what he knew the answer to that why is he asking this watch his next action stretch toward this hand toward his disciples and said Behold my mother and my brethren and then this explanation for whosoever shall do the will of my father which is in heaven that’s that same person is the one that’s my brother if my sister my mother Cornelius do you want your kinsmen to be kinsmen with you in Christ do you want your friends to be in Christ with you turn to John chapter 15 and look at verse 14 John 15 and verse 14 if you want to truly be the friend of Jesus here’s the way to do it in John 15 14 you are my friends if you go to church well if you do any commands you’ll go to church but that won’t be all you do you are my friends if you have a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart about me he didn’t say that you’re my friends if you give much alms to people if you give a lot of benevolent help to others well if you’re the friend of Christ and that’s one of the things you’ll do but not all the only thing you’ll do you are my friends if you pray to me well prayer is certainly something you would do if you loved God but it’s not enough it’s not the only thing you are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you I’m going to ask you a question what’s Cornelius obeying some of the commands that God had given yes did he consider himself accountable to God yes was he saved acts 11:14 says he needed to hear words whereby he could be saved he was lost even though he’d been partially obedient to the will of God he didn’t know enough to obey all that he should obey and once that was made known to him what does he do we see him baptized and what a wonderful thing to see Cornelius become a Christian a one who would become a Christian or be called a Christian when that name would be given in acts 11 he became a follower of Jesus Christ and one who would belong to Christ and that name Christian would be given in acts 11:26 and it would apply to Cornelius and everyone like him that obeyed the gospel now here’s the third of four points we find from acts 10 all men can be saved even the Gentiles yes I don’t care what color you are I don’t care what educational status you’ve achieved or haven’t I don’t care what economic status you’ve achieved or haven’t as far as economy is concerned what matters to God is simply this are you willing to obey him if you are he will forgive you I worked in Knoxville Tennessee as a gospel preacher in my early preaching days and I remember one particular Bible study I had with a young lady she was older woman now from compared to some young ladies she was probably in her 20s or 30s she was older than I was at the time but younger than I am now for sure my age now would certainly be older than she was here’s my point I’m studying with her and she starts crying and I said why are you crying she said preacher I could never be saved after the things I’ve done I said it doesn’t matter what you’ve done the blood of Christ is powerful enough to wash away every single sin every single one of them she says no you don’t understand she said I’m going to tell you point blank and then she proceeded to okay I said look you don’t have to tell me I’m I’m not asking you to confess your individual sins to me I’m not a priest in that way and the sins you have are going to be taken care of by the blood of Christ not by me but she says no I just want to tell you so that I can see if I can really be saved I said the people that murdered the very Son of God were the very same people who are told repent and be baptized for the remission of sins you can be saved if you’ll repent and do what’s right you can be saved forgiven she said I’ve broken up marriages by my conduct I said you can still be saved if you’ll repent and do what’s right I have done so many times did you look Paul said in first Timothy chapter 1 and verse 15 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief doesn’t matter what you’ve done you can be saved I promise you he loves you that much and my friends from Acts 10 we learned that all men can be saved no matter what your race no matter what’s your status finally the same gospel saves all men on the same terms let me show you what I mean by that Peter weren’t you involved in the salvation of souls and acts 2 as far as telling them what to do is concern yes and what did you tell folks back then they needed to do to be saved in Acts chapter 2 when they cried out men and brethren what shall we do Peter what did you tell them then I told them acts 2:38 repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins Peter you telling the people the same thing today if you go to acts 11 when Peter is called on the carpet so to speak for why he preached to the Gentiles when he gets back to Jerusalem there’s some folks that are none too happy with him at least until he explained himself and then some held their peace they want to know why he preached to Gentiles when they’ve never been a part of this church in the past in Acts 11 once you want you to watch if you will in particular what stated in verse number 18 when they heard these things they held their peace and glorified God saying then has God also to the Gentiles watch this granted repentance unto life now what did Peter tell them to do in acts 10 when he saw that the Holy Spirit fell on them not to save them but to show they were eligible for salvation he said can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized he wanted them to be baptized in water what did he tell them on Pentecost repent and be baptized acts 1118 and acts 10 47 combines show that repentance and baptism were a part of Cornelius’s salvation process God saved the Jews he saved the Gentiles the very same way and if you want to be saved this morning you must be saved in the very same way according to the very same terms someone said no I think you say a prayer and you asked Jesus to come into your heart and then he makes you saved that’s the way it works how do you know that well that’s what I’ve seen on TV I want to ask you to go with me as we close out to caseware another very religious man was wrong and needed to change his name Saul of Tarsus sorry you religious yes I remember john 16:2 says that the lord told his apostles some of the very people that killed you will think they’re doing God a service they’ll think God’s proud of them for persecuting new Christians and that’s what Saul of Tarsus thought he thought God would be proud of him for persecuting the church and a voice came to Saul as he was headed to Damascus for the purpose of getting more disciples and breathing out slaughter against them and threats against them a voice says Saul Saul why persecutest thou me verse 4 he said who art thou Lord and the Lord said I am Jesus whom thou persecutest it’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks of your conscience he trembling and astonished said Lord what wilt thou have me to do interestingly Jesus doesn’t say well why don’t you just invite me into your heart right now by way of a prayer and we’ll do it that way he says arise go into the city and there it shall be told thee what thou must do so we’re going to be looking for whatever it is he’s told to do because whatever it is he must do it it’s not option it’s an obligation so when we go to acts 22 and oh well before I do that I need to show you this look at acts 9 and verse 10 there in Damascus where Saul was headed there’s a certain disciple named Ananias and Ananias gets a vision Lord tells him to go into the street called straight verse 11 inquire of the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus for behold Jesus tells Anna Nash you’re looking for the one who’s praying he Prayuth the praying man all right that makes sense why is he praying well I’m sure he felt a sense of tremendous guilt over what he had done and yet for three days he can’t eat he can’t drink and then in acts 22 later when Paul himself is remembering how he was brought to salvation this is his own statement he said Ananias came in and said in verse 16 now why tarriest thou repeat after me and say the sinner’s prayer asked Jesus to come into your heart you’re already praying this is perfect I couldn’t ask for a better better scenario for me to find you in because I came here to teach you the sinner’s prayer and for you to ask Jesus into your heart for salvation is that what your Bible says if that’s not what the Bible says then why are people teaching that Ananias tells the praying man why tarriest I’ll get up arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins that’s how you call on the name of the Lord that’s how you do it and that makes sense because in acts 2:21 Peter said whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved 17 verses later the same man that said that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved said when he was asked what shall we do repent and be baptized for the remission of sins shall be saved for the remission of sins equal the same thing they equal the same thing and thus call on the name of the Lord repent and be baptized equal the same thing that’s how you do it and that’s how saul of tarsus did it and so i don’t know how the service is going to end but here’s the way it could end someone listening to this message today hearing about Jesus Christ and what he’s done for you and for me that we could never do for ourselves may be so moved by that crucifixion and story of the cross that you say alright I’m ready to be forgiven of my sins what do I need to do well Jesus said except you believe that I’m he’ll die in your sins so I know you need to believe in Jesus Christ John 8:24 and we read that God has commanded all men everywhere Jew Gentile whatever in the nation whatever the nation there is an alienation from God in every nation and the way you get back to God and be accepted is to fear him and work obedience to His commandments and so you need to repent and then if you’ll repent will you confess that you believe Jesus Christ is the son of God like the eunuch did in acts 8:37 and will you then be buried with your Lord in Baptism can any man forbid water that those who are here this morning who need to be saved should not be baptized as well as those who already were for the remission of sins in the Bible is there anyone here today that could show why a sinner shouldn’t be baptized if he’s never become a member of the Lord’s Church the Bible says you should be and if you’ve already become a member of the church but you’ve gone astray you become prodigal come back to your father he’ll run to meet you he’ll forgive you and you can come back to what you know I can promise you this if you leave here today thinking that on the day of judgment you can just cite your good moral deeds to God and say that ought to get me into heaven then read acts 10 again when you get home and read it until the message comes through loud and clear you can be good and moral and still be lost if you leave here today thinking well I’m religious I’m sincere I’m prayerful I believe in God well every person in the New Testament that became a member of the church had to change their religion to do it Jews had to leave the law of Moses behind Gentiles had to embrace the New Covenant what might you have to leave to become a member of the Lord’s Church are you willing to do what Cornelius said I want to contrast this as I give heavens invitation I studied with another young lady in Knoxville and baptized her into Christ and she immediately went to her sister and said I want to show you I want to show you what I’ve learned I didn’t know this stuff was in the Bible about how you need to be baptized to wash away your sins acts 22:16 I didn’t know that Jesus said he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved mark 16:16 I didn’t know that 1st Peter 3:21 says baptism does also now save us now that I know it I want to show someone so she went to her sister said I

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