When you hear the phrase, “Jesus Died for the sins of humanity” is your first thought Jesus died for me, Jesus dies for all people like me, or Jesus died for people who are different from me?
This can be labeled the Me, We or Thee default.
An individual view of God is not just a modern American phenom.
A 2021 report from Pew Research Center reports: “Belief in God is nearly universal in India (97%), and roughly eight-in-ten Indians (79%) say they believe in God with absolute certainty”[i]
But “belief in God” means something very different to a Hindu than it does to a Christian, just as “Jesus is the Son of God” has different meaning to a Mormon or a Protestant.
61% of Hindus believe that there is “only one God with many manifestations”; compared to the orthodox Christian view that there is one God consisting of 3 persons, Hindus believe manifestations range from every person having a personal god to the 33 koti(supreme deities).
I am overjoyed for each person listening to my voice who has a personal relationship with God mediated through our Savior Jesus Christ.
I’ve entitled this message Not Done Yet, because until our belief matures into a faith that is accessed by every language and people group, the mission of Acts is not complete!
My goal in the next 25 minutes is to help you buy into CRT – COMPASSIONATE Race Theory.
Instead of being critical of the race of another person, I believe the desire of God Almighty is that we would have compassion toward people of other ethnicities withing the human race.
Transition: Today’s text reveals a change in thinking about those who were close to, but different from the Apostles.
Gospel Hearing is Extended to new People (Acts 10)
Preparation for the Gospel
I know that farming and ranching methods have changed significantly in the last 100 years in search of higher yields and better return on investment.
Whether soil gets tilled or fertilized, it has to be prepared for the seed.
Whether you single stock or double stock, burning produces better grass in the short term and healthier pastures over the years.
Similarly, both the producer and the product need to be prepared for Gospel Transformation to be allowed to take place.
Cornelius (Acts 10:1-8)
· Most likely a Syrian who was aligned with the Roman military.
This would be 2 strikes against him in the mind of a 1st century Jew.
A military leader
Craig Keener writes, “centurions were often soldiers who worked their way up through the ranks.
Some took twenty years to achieve this rank[i]
Some estimate that only roughly half those who enlisted survived the twenty years of service, rewards for survivors were high”[ii]
A pious and generous man
Keener continues, “Most local soldiers were anti-Jewish.
Nevertheless, some Gentiles honored, and even converted to, Judaism there”[iii]
he was still lacking something.
There are people all around us who may appear to have the world by the tail.
They may have money, influence, and social standing, but without Christ filling what Blaise Pascal identified in the 1600s as the God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, they are just like Cornelius on some level and they “still haven’t found what they’re looking for”.
Peter (Acts 10:9-23)
Few of you may realize that my first contact with FHCC was not in 2018.
On November 18, 2014 I found your job posting on the Moody Bible Institute website and emailed my resume.
Your search team rightly concluded at that time that we were not a good fit for each other.
But between Nov. ’14 and March ‘18 God made some changes in this body and God did a work in my heart so that I didn’t only want to be back in Kansas, but I developed a love for the people of Chase County.
The transformation that happened in those 3½ years is VERY similar to what is happening in Cornelius and Peter!
no partiality (10:34)
Friends (Acts 10:24-33)
God has shown me (v.28) that you need the gospel.
I was sent for (v.29)
Notice that Cornelius did not take his friends to synagogue, he brought the Gospel to his friends.
This is why our Elders determined that it would be good for us to invest the summer in Sunday School learning gospel presentations and making Bibles available for you to give to friends and neighbors.
Preaching of the Gospel (Acts 10:34-43)
Jesus’ life (36-39a) - Who He is
Jesus’ death (39b) - What He did/does
Jesus’ resurrection (40-41) - What sets Him apart from all other religions.
Jesus’ commission (42) - what He expects
To Caesareans and those connected to military service Peter says, “Peace is NOT going to come through the Pax Romana!
Peace is not going to come through ritual Judaism!
True peace only comes from Jesus Christ.
Peter doesn’t go into deep theology (You don’t need to have years of special training).
He simply told the story of Jesus and what difference Jesus made in his life.
Transition: Chapters 11 and 12 are a response to what happens in chapter 10.
Gospel Horizons Expand to new Places (Acts 11)
The Missionary Summit
The Senders’ Criticism (vv.1-3) - you’re becoming worldly
The Missionary’s Reply (vv.4-17) - you didn’t see what I saw
The Sender’s Response (v.18) - we won’t expect God to fit in our little boxes, we will expand our views to include what God is doing.
The Missionary Spread
Because the Mission expanded to Caesarea (55) miles, now it moves (265) more miles to the very northwest corner of Syria and next week will expand into Asia Minor (Turkey).
It is like saying that since we had a successful outreach to KSU students in Manhattan, the Gospel is going to spread beyond Mizzou students in Columbia, MO.
And since they are in the “Show Me” state, they are going to search the Scriptures for proof of what we say!
Antioch (19-21)– Northern border of Syria
Barnabas & Saul (22-26)– Saul’s persecution meant to silence the Gospel is not Spreading beyond the reach of the Jews, and He gets to be a part of it!
Supplies for Jerusalem (27-30) – Antiochan Christians were not just “consumers”—they were studentsers and givers!
Good Missions is never colonialization!
Every grandparent knows the joy of when your child provides your first grandchild.
Likewise, the believers at Antioch are healty, generous and reproducing.
One of the joys of my ministry is when a Missionary that we supported in Honduras reported that the Honduran church was sending missionaries to the Middle East, where their darker skin was more readily accepted than Lilly white Americans.
Transition: The spread of the Gospel is not only spreading geographically.
Its influence is now making a presence in the Palace.
Gospel Honor is Established in an old Palace (Acts 12)
Herod is about to find the limits of his domain when it comes up against the rule of Christ.
Herod and James’ deliverance (Acts 12:1-2) from earth
Even through execution Herod was unable to prevent James from entering Christ’s eternal kingdom.
Herod and Peter’s deliverance (Acts 12:3-19) from prison
Even prison could not contain or restrict the power of God to spread Christ’s eternal kingdom.
Herod’s deliverance (Acts 12:23) from blasphemy
Herod’s arrogance could not prevent God from receiving glory!
Painful gut issues took his life.
The Gospel cannot be contained, and God’s glory cannot be denied.
Jesus said the He sent his disciples, and He is sending us into the world with this Good News that cannot be contained and will not be denied!
Who is the person you interact with who may be different from you in heart language, culture, or generational differences.
Rather than assume they would not be interested in the Good News, Peter had to be willing to offer the Gospel for the God-shaped hole in the life of Cornelius and his buddies.
God wants each of us to also offer the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness to people who may be a little different from us.
Our final song is the same as last week.
Not because I am experiencing memory issues, but because this should be the prayer of each person who wants to mature from a Gospel for me, to a Gospel for Thee.
Song of Response #313... “Lord, Lay Some Soul Upon”
[i] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Second Edition.
(Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2014), 349.
[ii] Ibid., 349.
[iii] Ibid., 349.