Cornelius' case, it was important for the Jews to have a head start, but there are others that will come to Christ and have come to Christ that were not anywhere near the stature of Cornelius, his character. He's a grand figure, the first true gentile to come into the church, not as a proselyte.
Well, anyway, all of this spiritual drama behind the scenes, still working up to its point, this is what it takes to overcome ignorance and biases and anything else left out. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the Book of Acts.
Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. And now here's Pastor Rick with part three of his study called Preparation for Preaching in Acts chapter 10. So verse six, he's lodging with the tanner. I hope I made it clear about water baptism is a public thing and it's not something we sneak around doing.
Though in certain areas where persecution is intense, there is some margin there. Verse seven, and when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants, a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continuously. So the angel, he spoke and he departed. We never see these guys hanging out. It's like they do their job and they go, I had to get out of here.
I don't want anything to rub off on me. So anyway, of course there's the time when they come and dine with Abraham, but still they take care of business and leave. This family setting here, this household setting, the servants, the family and the soldiers recalls to mind General Naaman.
We just looked at Naaman in our midweek study in Kings. He too had faithful servants and soldiers around him who actually genuinely cared for him. Cornelius seems to be cut from the same cloth. There are good people outside of Christ. That is a fact and there are some difficult people inside of Christ, but it's not good enough.
It's not good enough to be a decent and good person outside of Christ. That is the whole story of reaching out to Cornelius. Jesus said, don't be amazed that I said to you, you must be born again.
Verse 8, so when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. Well Cornelius, an officer, he knows how to take orders. He knows how to give orders and had he been a lesser man in character, these men might have scoffed at what he was saying. Yeah right, an angel of peace, but he was such a man. He lived in such a way that when he said something, they understood that he meant business and they had no reason to doubt him. I want to be that kind of a person. Who doesn't?
Who does not want to have that kind of influence over people in their lives that when we say something serious, we're taken seriously in a good way. So he entrusts these friends and servants with supernaturally given spiritual information and they're going to travel 30 miles, probably by horse or mule to deliver the message of Cornelius, which is the message of the angel. Verse 9, which of course the message of God, it follows that hierarchy. Verse 9, the next day as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up to the housetop to pray about the sixth hour.
And he's still oblivious to what's going on. He's living his life in Christ. The scene is the rooftop by the sea.
It's a nice place to go, the Mediterranean, the beautiful Mediterranean. And the angel had met the previous day at 3 o'clock with Cornelius. Both times are Jewish times for prayer, 9 a.m., 12 noon, 3 p.m. And so at the temple while Peter is praying, just like when Cornelius was the day before, prayers are flying up to heaven. The Jews is with their three times a day to pray and we see that Daniel opened his door as was his custom and prayed three times. We find Peter at each interval praying. He had become a man of prayer. At Pentecost at 9 a.m., he went to pray. Him and John went to the temple at 3 p.m., the evening prayer when they were confronted with the beggar.
And then here it is at noontime. Years ago, Peter with the apostles had declared what the priorities of the apostles were. As the pastors of the church, they said, we will give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. And again, the ministry of the word is not just reading the word, it is acting upon it. And that's the ergo, the ministry of versus the reading of, the mere reading of. Here we see him exercising the prayer side of his declaration. He's giving himself to prayer. When we come, when he gets to the house of Cornelius and begins to preach, he's exercising the word part of it. And the effect, the effect is that people get saved. Things happen for the kingdom.
That is a pattern for us, a template for us. In verse 10, then he became very hungry and wanted to eat. But while they made ready, he fell into a trance. That's happened to me. I've been so hungry, I fell into a, okay.
That not happened. Anyway, then he became hungry and wanted to eat. And as they made ready.
So they're making lunch. He's not asleep. A trance is where the visions are given and a vision, the difference between a vision and a dream is you're awake for the vision, but you're sleeping for the dream. And you consciously, you are removed from your immediate surroundings. And this is what is happening to Peter. Verse 11, he saw the heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners descending to him and let down to the earth.
Coming straight out of heaven, it says it was coming, descending to him. In his vision, he is singled out. Maybe you have a dream and in the dream, somebody in the dream is singled out. Maybe it's you.
Maybe it's somebody else. In this vision, this was him. God had his attention. Four corners of the sheet.
Why would you have to say that? Well, because it is the world, the four points of a compass. And I think Peter is getting that. He's understanding. It sticks with him because he's the one telling the story and Luke is preserving it.
This is an important point. The four corners of that sheet with the, you know, it's hard to say the sheet because you're thinking sheep. And it's both, you know, part of Christianity, sheep so much.
But anyhow, verse 12, and then you don't want to of course misspeak and say something that you really regret. Verse 12, in it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. So the unclean animals represent the Gentiles.
Yay, that's me. The clean represent the Jews. Now, ceremonially speaking, God is, God is of course changing all of this.
Both are here together in the sheet assembled. And from God's perspective, they're both clean. There's nothing unclean here.
But Peter's got to get through this and God is helping him. Maybe you've got some hang-ups. Maybe they're racist. Maybe they're not. Maybe they're cultural.
Maybe they're religious. Whatever they are, you've got stuff that's got to get cleaned up and God is the one that's going to do that for you. Mostly I think God does it through sermons.
There are other ways of course. But for example, when you come and sit through a sermon that is a biblical sermon, you're singled out just like Peter. What God has to say through his servant is God's business. What you do with what is said is your business.
The two together is what make the relationship work. And maybe again, you've got something to sort out. Maybe there's someone you have a grudge against and you know it's gone too far in your heart and you need to, you know, dial it back and take it to the Lord. You know, without the snide little comments, Lord you know I hate this person but you know you hate them too. You can't say things like that to God.
It's not good. It's so important to pray out loud. But when you're in your closet or in your car or wherever you are alone, it's so important because when you articulate things, you begin to, your brain begins to ring in on it. Like you know what, I'm actually thinking about what I'm saying to God. Whereas I might speak to a person, I might not be doing that.
So as an example, maybe someone out there who listens to this on the radio because it doesn't happen here. Maybe they're saying you have bad thoughts about your pastor. I know it's ridiculous but we'll go with it anyway. Well, if you take it to God instead of to your friend or someone else, take it to God.
Find out what happens then. It's just remarkable how if you have an opponent in life and you talk to God about them, there's relief there. Now that doesn't mean the other person is going to get saved or get right or something like that, but it does mean God singles you out and works with you on the matter and that's what we want so much. So here we see the clean and the unclean assembled together just like a church. Both will be caught up to heaven together when we get to verse 16. All declared clean by God. That's what he does. No matter how defiled you are, God can help.
He can reclassify you. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Those are big words. It takes a big God to make it happen and we have him and he has us and the world does not and we are supposed to help them but in the way of that is they see it they see false of the within the church within Christians and they think that that's their get out of judgment card.
It is not. God will not say, oh, you looked at the church and you didn't want any part of me. Well, I never told you to look at them. I told you to look at me and that would lead to looking at them but he is paramount. Verse 13, and a voice came to him, to Peter.
Rise Peter kill and eat. Meaning the law has been modified by God. That's what's going on here. Now it's not explicitly said that it is God's voice. However, verse 19 says, the Spirit is the Holy Spirit. So it is God speaking. Verse 14, but Peter said, not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything common or unclean. Well, Cornelius called the angel Lord here in the Greek. It's not the covenant name of Christ. That's not enough for us to realize that he's who he's speaking to.
We need something larger. And again, verse 19 gives that to us in referring to him as the Spirit. But what Peter says essentially is, no way, Lord. Maybe Peter thought he was being tested. Because Leviticus, you know, 20, for example, is very clear about these things.
You don't eat pork as an example, other things too. Peter objects, as did Ananias. Lord, you know how savage this guy's been with the church.
I like this. I like that they could, you know, Peter voices his objections. If something's on his mind, he says it to God. Jeremiah was that way. Jeremiah had a problem with how God was doing something. He took it to God.
And there it was settled. And then there's an admirable quality. That now doesn't mean Peter's right, but at least he's upfront about his position. He's not fooling anyone. He gets into problems later, as we all do. For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.
Not a boast he's stating a fact. He said I've never had any of those animals, knowingly had any of those animals. Jews regarded Gentiles as unclean largely because of what they ate. Peter wanted to be unspotted by the world. James, chapter 1, verse 27, keep oneself unspotted from the world.
A lot of work, because the world is determined to draw us in. Verse 15, and a voice spoke to him again the second time. What God has cleansed, you must not call uncommon. How do you hear this voice? I think this tells you what kind of, something about our theology. How do you hear the voice? Do you hear it like rise Peter, kill and eat. What God has cleansed, you must not, I mean, is that how you hear the voice of God? Or do you hear it as, you know, God almost just making an imperative remark. But God has cleansed, don't call him clean. Why can't God say it that way? He talks that way to me. God always speaks even when he's upset with me, and that's happened once. It's always been just very gentle and very courteous. When Peter sinned by denying the Lord, the Lord didn't say anything to him, he just looked at him. And Peter fell apart. So I think that, you know, if you are prone to legalism, and if you're just judgmental, you might hear that voice as harsh.
But in reality, I think it is not. I think Peter has no indication, he's intimidated. He's dialoguing.
The voice spoke to him a second time. Well, this is a serious matter, and that's why it is being emphasized. The gospel demands change.
It doesn't find us the way it wants us. And that's the truth. And there's no one that comes to the Christ and says, well, you know, he didn't really have to do anything with me. I acknowledge he's a savior, but I'm pretty good like I am. Of course, even Paul knew better than that. Jewish dietary laws. Now, I'm going to go against the grain on some of you, not against the scripture, but maybe what you've come to think. People have told me, and even some of the good commentators, many of them, as a matter of fact, talk about the dietary laws were given to the Jews to keep them healthy.
I disagree. The dietary laws were not for health reasons, otherwise God would be supporting poor health by lifting the restriction for the church. Well, I really cared about the Jews. I didn't want them to eat that stuff. But you, you, you can eat it.
I don't care about you. See, that's messed up. That's not what's going on. Those laws, they were given to make the Jews distinct from everybody else and to challenge them outwardly. They sat at the table and said, I can't eat that. And they could tell you why they couldn't eat that. And the bottom line, what was the bottom line, why they could not eat that? They were commanded not to.
It was an obedience issue. So, we don't read of Gentiles being less healthy or worse off or abstaining from the foods the Jews were not to eat. History, you find them just as living as long. You know, I think yogurt is the reason why people live long. At least that's what the commercials said years ago.
You'll find some guy, he's 400 years old, but he likes yogurt. Anyway, God, again, Levitical laws made them distinct. Certainly there were some of the laws that, you know, are standard. Even in other, you know, thou shall not murder, steal and so forth.
Those are fully in effect. So, it was an arbitrary decision by God. To say, okay, don't eat this, but you can eat that. Outwardly testing their obedience. Only the one who originally gave the commandment could overturn it, could overrule it. And that is what we're seeing here. God himself is showing up to Peter saying, I am God, you know I am God, this is what I want now.
And Peter's going to abide in this. This education took place for Paul and he had to relearn life in his faith. Conversion and consecration, not the same thing, but they are inseparable. And some don't, you know, they are justified, but they really don't sanctify. They're sanctified in God's eyes, they're set aside for salvation, they're justified, but they're not developed. There's two forms to sanctification. There's the instant part that comes with justification, when you accept Christ as savior. Then there's the task of a lifetime to be conformed to the image of Christ. And that takes a lot of work and a lot of pain.
Well, we are running close to out of time, we need to move this up. Peter is being told that God is removing a distinction between peoples when it comes to the gospel. That they don't have to become Jewish. And again, there's not a slight on Jewish people at all. I don't know how you can be a Christian and be anti-Semitic against the Jews. God made that very clear to Abraham.
Whoever curses your seed, I'm going to deal with them. So it's not just the facts we're dealing with. We no longer see when a Jewish man or woman comes to Christ, they're now Christian.
Period. Others like to tackle all sorts of little buttons and things, but why? Isn't it enough to be part of Christ? Verse 16, this was done three times and the object was taken up into heaven. So the divine repetition is divine insistence on behalf of Gentiles.
This is who this is for. The family that he's going to send him to. This reinforcement will stick with Peter for the rest of his life, however, he's going to lose sight of it.
Not going to lose it, but he loses sight of it. Paul will have to call him out. Paul tells us about that in Galatians. I don't think Paul was happy about that, but if he did not withstand those men up in Antioch when they came up from James and said, okay, you're fine believing in Christ as a Gentile, but you've got to, you know, stop eating these foods, you've got to honor the Sabbath, you've got to come under circumcision. And Paul said, nonsense. That's why they hated him so much.
A transition. Well, when we get to verse 28, we'll find out Peter does fully understand, but he thrice denied his Lord. We remember that. Here he is thrice told what God is doing.
What's the point? Peter, you're not disqualified. I am using you so much.
I am still totally in love with you. He says this to him, he says it to us. Peter was fully restored like the ax head that flew off the handle into the Jordan, and the prophet Elisha retrieved it, had it float to the top, restored.
The cutting edge was given back. Well, continuing on, verse 10, and now, and while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house and stood before the gate. Well, Peter has been prepped, and he's been prepped to preach and he doesn't even know it. It is amazing that God does not have to have us be conscious of something for something to be there.
That takes so much pressure off of me. And just how do you get there? By abiding with Christ. That's what Peter was doing when he was praying. He was, if you abide with me, I will abide with you, and we're seeing the fruit of that.
But it's showtime now. They're at the gate, verse 18, and they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. Verse 19, while Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, behold, three men are seeking you. And of course, that's the Spirit of the Lord speaking to him. Vision is no guarantee of understanding. He had this vision, he still didn't get it. He is getting it, though. And he knows it's sticking with him.
Man, it happened three times. That sticks with him and helps make him ponder it. Verse 20, arise therefore, go down with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them. The Lord is saying, I'm not debating this this time. I don't want to hear about not so Lord, I'm not eating, I want you to go with them and shut your mouth.
Not in that tone, but that is where it ends up. Peter knew the Holy Spirit's voice, and not open for discussion. What we hear from God, again, is God's business.
What we do with what we hear, it's our business. That's a partnership, that's fellowship with God. As Paul wrote to the Romans, we have fellowship with God.
It is not a little thing. Jesus said this, Luke, well let's take Mark first, Mark 4, 24, take heed what you hear. Then Luke 8, 18, take heed how you hear.
That's a lot of stuff there to think about. Anyway, verse 21, and we'll just take 21 right through 23, and Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius and said, yes, I am he whom you seek, for what reason have you come? He doesn't get it yet, verse 22, and they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by the holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear words from you. Then he invited them in and lodged them on the next day. Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
There's so much going on here, we're pretty much out of time. So they're coming into Peter's house, this is a big deal, the Jews, actually it's Simon the tanner's house, but you know, they're bringing them in, essentially defiling the house, he just didn't, the Jews just kept that distance. But God is doing bigger things with them, that Cornelius was a good man is noble, but God does the same thing for people who aren't so good. There are really creepy people that are decrepified by the Holy Spirit. And so, you know, in Cornelius' case it was important for the Jews to have a head start, but there are others that will come to Christ and have come to Christ that were not anywhere near the stature of Cornelius, his character.
He's a grand figure, the first true Gentile to come into the church, not as a proselyte. Well, anyway, all of this spiritual drama behind the scenes is still working up to its point, this is what it takes to overcome ignorance and biases and anything else left out. God is informing us here that there's more to saving a soul than holding up a scripture verse. There is spiritual and physical preparation to preach salvation, and if you think you just got it that way, you're wrong, you're going to mess it up and make it worse.
It takes work. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at crossreferenceradio.com or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
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