Experiencing God Learned From The Early Church Mission

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I. Introduction

The Holy Spirit reveals the importance of God’s work through Peter by moving Luke to refer to the events of the ministry in Cornelius’s household three different times in the Book of Acts. Although the Apostle Paul is often referred to as the Apostle to the Gentiles, Peter received a message from God giving him the instructions of taking the gospel to Cornelius’s family, thus he had the privilege to open the gospel door to the Gentiles. (Acts 10-11; Through the Bible; Barnes Notes; The Expositors Bible Commentary) Whenever, God starts a new work, a work done differently than what was usually done, the cancer of traditionalism births forth the death of criticism. A ministry matured in the Holy Spirit defeats that criticism.

It is Christian in that in God’s kingdom there is no Jew or Gentile. They is no male or female. There is no black or white. This story shows us that in God’s kingdom there is no place for discrimination.
In Acts 10, we find the same principles given to us. I’m not going to read the whole chapter, you can do that this week. But let me give you some highlights. A Roman centurion named Cornelius has a dream. He lives in a town called Caesarea. This is a town named after Caesar. Cornelius was probably retired from the military or at least as retired as a centurion could be because you never really retire. Now often men like Cornelius who commanded hundreds would have a pretty loyal following. After all when you serve on the front lines with men and survive for many years and proved yourself, you often earn respect and admiration. So to keep these commanders from marching into Rome and taking command, the Caesar would create towns out on the fringes where these commanders and often their men would “retire.” They would be too far away to revolt and cause trouble but close enough to be valuable resources if needed.

In verse two it says that he was god-fearing. This was defined as someone who prayed regularly and gave to the poor. The Jews even respected him. But he probably wasn’t an actual Jew. First of all, he was a Gentile. But Gentile could go through a complicated process of becoming a Jew although they would never be a full-fledged member. Besides his military commitments probably prevented him from doing even if he wanted to.
Well, Cornelius has a dream. He is told to have a man named Peter brought to him so that Cornelius could hear some important news about what God was doing. Meanwhile Peter has a vision of a all kinds of animal many which are supposed to be unclean and unsuitable to eat under Jewish law. Yet, God instructs Peter to kill and eat them. Peter says, “No way! Never! It is wrong.” Perhaps Peter thought it was a test. But God tells him not to refuse by calling anything impure that God has made clean. Three times this happens and afterwards Peter is perplexed. He doesn’t know what this vision means until the men from Cornelius come. The Spirit tells Peter to go with them.
When Peter arrives and talks to Cornelius he begins to understand his vision. Peter learns from Cornelius what his vision means. Peter says in verse 28, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.” The Jewish law has discrimination and this was racial discrimination built into it. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.

Thus Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” And then in verses 35 through 35, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
God accepts everyone who does what is right. Aslan accepts everyone who does what is right. Reconciliation of the races! This is where the kernel of the gospel lies.
God’s plan for us is to be one people under God regardless of culture, of language, of skin color, of race, of economic background. We are to be one in Christ.
Revelation 5:9 shares a vision of what this kingdom looks like in its ultimate fulfillment.

\\ CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK...At People: Unclean to Clean

God gives Peter a vision to help him see people like God does. God can change the way we look...at people!

• How would people describe you in one word? (The truth is you probably don’t really know!)
• Would you like to experience change? Please don’t say you have no regrets or wouldn’t change anything.
• Change is the Hot Word Today: Ask God what needs to change in your life.
• Are there any people in your life that you want nothing to do with? Why?\\

II. The Turning Point of the Early Church Mission

  • Background
  • Torah (laws) and Jewish tradition
  • Important Figures
    • Cornelius
    • Peter
    • Jewish Christians at Jerusalem Church
    • Angel(s)
    • God
    • Holy Spirit
  • Transformation and Breakthrough

III. How these Spiritual Leaders experiencing God?

  • Cornelius -- Acts 10: 1-8

Cornelius was:

He was a MAN OF CHARACTER (v. 1-2)
Devout – Dedicated
Cornelius was diligent to obtain his position.
He was a MAN OF PRAYER (v.2-4)
He was a MAN OF ACTION (v.5-8)
immediately obeyed God
He did exactly as he was told in the vision without deviation
respected God’s regulations
Giver – Generosity – Compassion
Whole house followed in his footsteps
He lead his family!
Men step up!!
Wives, learn to submit

Wouldn’t the church love to have many Cornelius’ in the house?

Why did Luke record this event?
To show that Good isn’t good enough.
there is just one little problem with Cornelius, in spite of all his goodness, he is doomed for hell and in need of a savior. He was still lost

Good or God?
In spite of all of his good works, he still was lost…

Are you like Cornelius? Soon he will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Will you?

  • A devout man, who feared God with all his household
    • Prayed to God continually and had close relationship with God.-- Acts 10: 2-3
    • Gave many alms to the Jewish people
    • ==> A Care giver with actions
    • Clearly saw in a vision an angel of God -- Acts 10: 3-8
    • ==> Trust God undoubtedly
    • ==> Obedient to God without hesitation
  • Peter -- Acts Acts 10: 9 - 20 & 11: 4-16

CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK...At People: Unclean to Clean

God gives Peter a vision to help him see people like God does. God can change the way we look...at people!

• How would people describe you in one word? (The truth is you probably don’t really know!)
• Would you like to experience change? Please don’t say you have no regrets or wouldn’t change anything.
• Change is the Hot Word Today: Ask God what needs to change in your life.
• Are there any people in your life that you want nothing to do with? Why?

    • Prayed to God regularly and had close relationship with God. -- Acts 10: 9
    • felt into a trance and saw a vision - Acts 10:10 & 11:5
    • Follow the Holy Spirit's instructions immediately, trust God and be obedient to Him - Acts 11: 11-12
    • Feared God once he spoke to them he saw the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles (the audience) and could not stand in God's way - Acts 11:15-17
    • Learned Corenlius sent people to find Peter for Word of God and salvation - Acts 11:13-14
    • ==> 7 people witnessed the inspiration from Holy Spirit
  • Jewish Christians at Jerusalem Church

It is important to note that those who criticized Peter’s ministry to the Gentiles were Jewish Christians, “circumcised believers” who needed a fuller understanding of the whole counsel of the Word of God. (Matthew Henry Commentary; The Bible Knowledge Commentary; The Bible Exposition Commentary; The New American Commentary; Barnes Notes, The Expository Bible Commentary) The cancer of traditionalism and legalism kept them from understanding true circumcision of the heart, done by the Holy Spirit of Christ. (Romans 2:29) Circumcision of the spiritual heart is not just a New Testament revelation, God sent His prophets to teach the people of God that if outward circumcision was to have any significance, then it must be accompanied with an inner work on the spiritual heart. (The New International Dictionary of the Bible; Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 44:7) Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”

It is only by the hand of God, through Christ and the Holy Spirit that the Body of Christ can overcome dead religion and cultural habits. Christians who have the Holy Spirit illumination that Peter knew fear the dangers of the cancers of legalism, traditionalism, denominationalism and faddism. They seek answers to these questions.

    • Jewish tradition
        • Jews should not make friends with Gentiles. Jewish boy shall be circumcised at 8 days old.(Genesis 17:12)
        • this circumstance becomes an everlasting covenant(Genesis 17:13)
        • No jews is allowed to be with non-Jews believers(those were uncircumcised0 - Acts 11:4
        • They took issues with Peter for Peter went to Gentiles' house and ate with them - Acts 11:1-4
        • When they heard this, they quieted down - Acts 11:1-18 ==>. be obedient to God
        • ==> Glorified God and saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." - - Acts 11:18

How did Peter’s friends respond to him? Acts 11:18
When God shows up, learn to be silent.

Perhaps our lives are so full of noise that we miss God.
Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world."
We can experience God when we learn to be silent – stop the noise.

We don’t like silence because it reveals our emptiness:
Then we fill our emptiness with noise and forget our need for God.
Zech. 2:13 (NLT) Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling."
When we get past the hunger, we realize only God satisfies.

Some people say “I have no life!” (but you are busy!) Does “noise” equal “life?” What does it mean to really be alive? Parties, friends, sex, cars, money? Have we really experienced life as God intended it, or do we settle for a poor substitute? How do we know: Are we really satisfied?)

  • Others
    • Holy Spirit and His work ( occurred 10 times in Acts: 10:19, 38, 44, 45, 47; 11:12, 15, 16, 24, 28)
        • The Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you. - Acts 10:19
        • The Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. - Acts 10:44
        • The gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. - Acts 10:45
        • Gentiles were baptised wiith the Holy Spirit - Acts 10:47
    • Angels sent by God ( occurred 4 times in Acts 10:4, 7, 22,; 11:13)
    • Jesus Christ, our Lord - (occurred 4 times in Acts 10; 33, 36; 11:16-17)
        • God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power - Acts 10:38
    • God - (occurred 21 times - Acts 10: 2-4, 15, 28, 31-46; 11:1, 9, 17-18, 23)

IV. Experiencing God through Knowing God

* In God's Kingdom, people can't be categorized according to their background ( basd on race, religeon, education, age, sex, position title, status, money, and power)

          • God does Not play Favorites - Acts 10:34
          • God accepts people who fear God and do what's right - Acts 10:35
          • ==> Since God does Not play Favorites among people, we should do the same.
          • ==> In Christ, we are members of EFC-Alhambra. In this big family, w're in the body of Christ - Church.


Kent Hughes[1] told a story about Mahatma Gandhi, who wrote in his autobiography that in his student days in England he was deeply touched by reading the gospels. He seriously considered converting to Christianity, which seemed to offer a solution to the caste system in India. One Sunday he attended church services, intending to ask the minister for enlightenment on salvation and other doctrines. But when Gandhi entered the sanctuary, the ushers refused to seat him. They suggested that he go elsewhere to worship with his own people. He left and never came back. He said to himself, "If Christians have caste differences also, I might as well remain a Hindu.


"Some draw a circle that shuts men out;

Race and position are what they flout;

But Christ in love seeks them all to win,

He daws a circle that take s them in !

-Edwin Markham [2], adapted.


[1] Kent Hughes was Senior Minister of College Church in Wheaton, IL. for twenty years. He is the author of fourteen volumes of commentaries in the Preach the Word series, published by Crossway.

[2] Edwin Markham was a poet, American, 1852 - death, he had a huge personal library of 15 000+ volumes. His collection was bequeathed to Wagner College's Horrmann Library, located on Staten Island. Five schools in California were named in honor of Edwin Markham, two elementary school in Vacaville, California, named Edwin Markham Elementary School, and in Hayward, California, named Edwin Markham Elementary School, two middle schools in Placerville and San Jose, California, named Edwin Markham Middle School (although the San Jose school has since been renamed Willow Glen Middle School), and Markham Middle School in South Central Los Angeles. Schools in other states name in his honor include: Edwin Markham Intermediate School 51 in Staten Island, Edwin Markham Elementary in Pasco, Washington, Edwin Markham Elementary School in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Markham Elementary in Portland, Oregon.

The Man With the Hoe is a famous poem written by Edwin Markham inspired by the painting L'homme à la houe by Jean-François Millet; it was first presented as a public poetry reading at a New Year's Eve party in 1898, and published soon afterwards. It evokes the laborings of much of humanity using the symbolism of a laborer leaning upon his hoe, burdened by his work, but receiving little rest or reward. It has been called "the battle-cry of the next thousand years" and translated into more than 30 languages.The Man with the Hoe*

* Knowing God’s attributes, His plan, and His will through Holy Spirit

              • God's Attributes
                  • God's faithfulness
                  • God's Love
                  • God's Almight Power
            • God's Plan and He is in Control
            • God's Will on Our Life Jurney can be confirmed:



Sailor Wouldn’t Believe the Compass

An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea, so his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it. The next time he went out in his boat, he followed their advice and took the compass with him. But as usual he became hopelessly confused and was unable to find land.

Finally he was rescued by his friends. Disgusted and impatient with him, they asked, “Why didn’t you use that compass we gave you? You could have saved us a lot of trouble!”

The sailor responded, “I didn’t dare to! I wanted to go north, but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept on pointing southeast.”

That old sailor was so certain he knew which was north that he stubbornly tired to force his own personal persuasion on his compass. Unable to do so, he tossed it aside as worthless and failed to benefit from the guidance it offered.

Source unknown

Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

                  • A Vision was clearly well received among parties - Acts 11: 1-10
                  • A Guidance or Instructions by the Holy Spirit among parties - Acts 11: 11-12
                  • Hearing God’s voice through circumstances and other Christians - Acts 11: 13-14
                  • Holy Spirit Fell upon or poured unto people -Acts 11: 15 & 2: 17-18
                  • Word of God came into play in time - Acts 11: 16
                  • People were touched and moved heartedly among the body of Christ - Acts 11:17
                  • "Amen !" was unamously received among the body of Christ (church)- Acts 11:18

* Experiencing God to glorify Him

    • Know God more and more
    • Devouted and Fear God
    • Prayed to God regularly and had close relationship with God
    • A Care giver with actions
    • Trust God undoubtedly
    • Obedient to God withot hesitation
    • Follow the Holy Spirit's instructions immediately, trust God and be obedient to Him

God gave Cornelius a supernatural revelation, an angel spoke to Cornelius saying, “…your prayers and gifts to the poor have came up as a memorial offering before God.” Clearly, Cornelius’ gifts were not for gaining favor from God, but works that came from a reverent worship unto the God of heaven and earth. Many times I have seen people come to church or do righteous acts only to win favor with God. Effective ministry duties and other works must be done out of a desire to please Him and from supernatural revelation that what they are doing is good for them and their family. Spiritual revelation comes to those are seeking to know more of the Lord, desire His ways of truth and heavenly wisdom. (The Pulpit Commentary)

The Lord will give devout, God-fearing Christians that which they seek. He will use whatever instruments He pleases to guide true seekers to the place and person who is able to give divine revelation which satisfies the spiritual heart and soul. When God-fearing people faithfully use the light they do have, the Lord will open the door to revelation.

    • Reconciliation—We are all equally in need of Jesus
  • • We are all seekers.

In recent years, there has been a movement of calling people who are not Christians “seekers.” It was a way to classify people who come into the church looking for God without labeling them offensively as “sinners.” It was a way to try to keep church accessible to anyone and everyone. Has anyone heard the use of this? Churches might call themselves “seeker-sensitive.” Does that sound familiar?
However, I’ve come to believe that the terminology is a little misleading because it implies a mindset that when I decide to follow Jesus then I am no longer a seeker. This was not the intention but it nevertheless has been reality. People are lured into a false sense of security that they have arrived. Some of this mentality goes farther back than this seeker-sensitive movement but nevertheless falls into this strange mentality that after I pray a prayer and maybe even get baptized (both hugely important) then I just have to be a good person and maybe a good citizen and wait for Jesus to come or I die.
However, I see in the bible that everyone is always a seeker. Peter was seeking in Acts 10. He sought to follow God. He was seeking how to serve God next. Cornelius was seeking to honor God further. Therefore he was open to the dream that God showed him.
As we make our journeys through life to the grocery stores and the malls and to work, we need to remember that we are all seekers. Everyone is seeking. Everyone is searching. Some think that they have arrived. Some think that they don’t need to grow or improve. Some think that they can never change. It is what psychologists call denial. And denial afflicts the religious and non-religious. It afflicts the spiritual and atheist. It afflicts the Christian and the non-Christian.
We are all seekers. So as we seek to walk close with Jesus and share what we have learned with others, we remember that we don’t have all the answers. We don’t know it all but we have caught a glimpse of the One who does.

  • • We are all students.

Peter learns from Cornelius. Cornelius learns from Peter. Peter learns from Cornelius what God was trying to say to him through the vision. Cornelius learns about the fulfillment of the faith that he has been striving to live out. He hears about Jesus and as verse 44 says, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had comewith Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”
We are all students. We learn from each other. We can even learn from those who do not claim to know God. It is amazing who God often chooses to speak to us when we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see.

  • • We are all servants.

Many don’t want to serve except to serve themselves. But we all serve something. Some serve the idols of money and materialism. Some serve the idols of addictions. Some serve the idols of entertainment. Some serve gods made in their own image. We are called to remind people that God has created us to serve Him. We are to follow Jesus in serving others by pouring into life rather taking from it.
If we can remember these three things this advent in preparation for Christmas we just might be prepared to hear and see the coming of Christ. He has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

V. Conclusions

• Do we really know God well and understand God’s Will upon us in our life?

• We know God plays no Favorites, so do we.

• Lets not conform to this world and ask God to help us be transformed in life gradually.

• Lets experience God in our life

• Ultimately, to glorify Him

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