September 6, 2020
THE RESULTS OF PENTECOST XIII, THE BAPTISM OF THE GENTILES ACTS 10 24-48
As I said last week the events that took place in Acts chapter 10 are of great significance as to who we have become today. The reason we worship like we do, the reason we live as clean and holy as we can, the reason we gather together every Sunday and sing songs, study the word, listen to sermons, attend children’s church, have revival meetings, have VBS, do things the way we do them, the whole reason we have Church like we do and worship the way we do is because it all began with the events that took place in Acts 10.
Jesus told the disciples that they were to take the Gospel to Jerusalem, which they have done, and to all of Judea, which they were doing, and even to Samaria, which Phillip and others were busy doing, and even “to the ends of the earth”. Well what dose Jesus mean by “the ends of the earth”? He meant and He still means today, everywhere. Not only to the Jews, but also those half-bred Samaritans, and even to us heathen Gentiles. What Peter, a devout Jew, is finding out in Acts chapter 10 is that God’s chosen people are not just the Jews, God’s chosen people is anyone who will accept His forgiveness of sin through belief in His Son, Jesus the Christ. He has chosen us all to be saved, we just have to accept Him and his Gift.
The Jews had strict rules about everything and especially about what foods they could eat. Peter had just had this vision of a sheet coming down from heaven with all kinds of unclean animals on it. Things from since his childhood he had been forbidden to ever take a bite of. The Gentiles on the other hand would eat anything, even a nasty old pig. In this vision of unclean food, Peter was told to “kill and eat” these creepy things that had been forbidden to him and every Jew. What Jesus asked Peter to do would be the same thing as if you were asked to eat some earth worms, or some roaches. Bubba Chunn has discovered what I always called a Katydid, they are actually called “lacewings”. They are a big green bug. The other night Joyce discovered something about Katydid’s that she did not know; they make a very loud chirp. One got into the house and woke Joyce up, kept her up all night. When I got up it was on the door to my office. I got a jar and as I was putting him into the jar, he made that very loud obnoxious chirp. I would not want to eat a Katydid, but this would not be as bad as what God was asking Peter to eat. It is like me and sushi, I cannot believe that people eat that stuff, but still in Peter’s mind eating sushi is not as bad as what God was asking him to eat.
I guess we recently found out that there are many people in China that like the taste of dog. They actually have dog markets where cleaned and dressed dogs (and I am not talking about bathed and wearing cloths) are hanging like beef, ready for purchase and ready to eat. I understand that in Yulin China right now there is a “dog market festival” going on where thousands come to purchase “a dog for the pot”. I would not want to go the Yulin China nor would I want to eat one of their delicacies. If you look up Yulin China what it looks like is “the ends of the earth”. I think rover needs to stay in the back yard. I think what God was asking Peter to do in his vision was pretty much equal to this in Peter’s mind. Go to these unclean people and eat these unclean animals. I keep telling you that the way God does things is often very strange to us. Get ready, He may ask you to do something that you may not want to do, but if you will listen to Him and follow His plan for you the blessing that you will receive will be greater than you could ever know. Still, I hope He is not telling me to go to Yulin.
Not only did the Jews see a lot of food as unclean and uneatable. They also saw a lot of people as unclean, and this included all Gentiles. What Jesus was telling Peter in this vision is that it is time to take the Gospel to the “ends of the earth”, to the Gentiles. To those unclean heathens that he was not supposed to have anything to do with. Those unclean heathens that will eat anything. What Peter is finding out is that He, God, is no “respecter of persons” (10: 34 KJV). God did not care that the Gentiles ate pork, they needed salvation, they needed to hear the Gospel. Cornelius, a Gentile Roman officer, was seeking to know the truth about God. Verse 2 says that he “prayed to God always”. In one of his prayer times the Holy Spirit gave him a vision just as he was giving Peter a vision. An angel of God appeared to him and said, “send for Simon Peter and he will tell you what you must do” to know who I AM. And because of this the Gospel was presented to the Gentiles. Cornelius was the first Roman Gentile to find salvation. It would not be that long before the Gospel would spread throughout the Roman Empire. Aren’t you glad that God is “no respecter of persons”? Aren’t you glad that Peter listened to the Holy Spirit and went to the house of Cornelius? Aren’t you glad that because of this event in history “His-Story” that we are hear worshipping today?
I remember when Joyce and I decided to get married we went to the pastor of the church that I had attended as a child. We asked the pastor there if he would perform the wedding and he refused. I understand because I was a lost sinner, I had not been going to church for a long time and to be honest I was a not the best person at this time. I was doing things that were wrong to do, I had long hair and was trying to grow the best beard that I could for a 20-year-old. I wore blue jeans and boots and drove an old truck, but most of all I was a lost and dying sinner. My life was unclean. It seemed like in this pastors’ eyes I was a “Yulin dog eater”. I was unclean. He had the right to refuse to marry us and a pastor should have this right. I do not blame him for not doing it, but I sure felt like and unclean “Yulin dog eater”.
I remember when I came to know Jesus for the first time. God sent a fellow named bill hull; he was the pastor of Richard Street Church of the Nazarene. I really did not want to have anything to do with church and I really did not like preachers, but I really took a liking to him. There was just something about him that was different to me. He never pressured me, but boy the holy spirit did. I think that was the first time I really understood what conviction felt like. Bill hull led me to the lord, and I found salvation through Jesus. I often wonder would I have ever been saved if brother bill hull had considered me too unclean to be witnessed to? If bill hull had viewed me as a “Yulin dog eater”, would I have come to know Christ as lord and savior? I wonder would we be here today if Peter had considered Cornelius too unclean to witness to. Of course, God is going to accomplish his will with us or without us. If Peter had said no to the holy spirit and did not go to Cornelius God still would have found someone who would. His command was that the whole world, even the world of the Gentiles are going to hear the good news and have the chance to accept it.
Cornelius was urged by an angel of the lord to invite Peter to come to his house. Peter started putting two and two together. Normally a devout Jew would not enter the house of a heathen Gentile, but because of the vision that the holy spirit had given him, Peter accepted the invitation and even took some of his devout Jewish friends with him. You can see in verse 28 how much division there was between the Jews and the Gentiles, “then he (Peter) said to them, you know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to someone of another nation (a Gentile). But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean”. Thank God that Peter went to the house of an “unclean Gentile” named Cornelius, because now the Gospel is going to go to “the ends of the earth”. The Good News is going to spread through the whole Roman world, even to Europe, and even to new world called the Americas, even to Arkansas, even to Steve Chunn at Richard Street Church of the Nazarene and even to On This Rock Ministries in Bella Vista Arkansas. You can bet everything you own that what Jesus had prophesied is going to come to be, He said, “you will be My witnesses even to the ends of the earth”, “ I will build My Church and even all the powers of hell will not be able to stop it”. If Jesus says it, brother it will take place and Jesus’ plan to evangelize the world is taking place before our very eyes and nothing is going to stop it.
One of the most profound statements every made is made here by Peter in Acts 10: 34-35. “then Peter opened his mouth (do you remember the old Simon Peter the one that you never knew what he was going to say. The old Simon Peter would talk before he thought. But this is the Holy Ghost filled Simon Peter and here he says one of the most profound statements ever made) and he said, “in truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. Peter goes on to say, “but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him”. And verse 43 says, “… all the prophets witness that, through His Name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins”.
Now when Peter went to the house of Cornelius, he took with him some Jewish friends. These friends were “astonished” at what was going on (verse 45). The Holy Ghost that they thought was only for the Jews fell on these Gentiles just like He had fell on them on the day of their salvation. Peter even started looking for some water to baptize these unclean, heathen, Gentiles. (read vs 44-48) these Gentiles had received the same salvation that these Jews had received and even in the same manner. The unclean has become clean, the sin stained soul has become whiter than snow. The sin which had made filthy their life is now being washed away. Peter said let us find some water and let us baptize these new believers for the washing away of their sin and their newfound cleanness through the Blood of Christ.
I suppose we should consider today, who do we see as too unclean to receive the Good News of salvation through Jesus? Maybe God is not calling us to be missionaries to Yulin, China. But He may be urging us to witness to someone that we may have never thought would give their life to Christ. To one pastor I was just a “Yulin dog eater”, but to another I was a lost sinner that needed the salvation that comes only form the cleansing Blood of Jesus.