Monday, December 19, 2016

Sharing the Gospel With Those Not Like You!

Acts 10
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

This is the remarkable story about how Peter and the Roman Centurion were brought together by God's grace and design. Cornelius was a God-fearing man and responded to God in a faithful manner by daily prayer and giving to those in need. God honored that faithfulness by giving him a vision to send three of his servants to meet a man named Peter in Joppa. Cornelius sent them at once. Meanwhile Peter received a vision in which the heavens parted (much like when Jesus was baptized and Holy Spirit descended on like a dove), and he was shown animals that were regarded unclean by the Jewish Law. E.g. Reptiles, Birds. As a good Jew, Peter had never eaten them and suggested as such to the voice that was speaking to him. Then the key line as the voice said, "Do not call anything unclean, that God has declared unclean!"

What is God saying to Peter? He is saying that the Old Testament promise to bless all nations and not just the Jews, was now at hand. Peter would not only be preaching the message of Jesus as the Son of God to the Jews, but to the Gentiles too. Significantly, Peter brings a contingent with him to Cornelius' house. Peter preaches the Gospel that JESUS is the Son of God, and how he healed and delivered people from sickness and demons. Importantly Jesus died for the sins of all people and rose again from the dead proving He was the Son of God. Peter and several others were witnesses of these events.

What happened? The Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and all those gathered. When the Jews who came saw that the Holy Spirit had fallen on them and they were speaking in tongues, they were assured they were now brothers and sisters in Christ. Notice the speaking of tongues in this case by these new Gentile believers was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit to show the Jews had received the same Holy Spirit.

What can this mean for us? God is always pushing us outside of our comfort zone to reach out to people not like us. His desire is for all nations and people groups to hear the Gospel and be saved through the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Notice it is not the apostles who do the saving, they simply preach the message and the Holy Spirit does the rest. God had already ordained for these events happen, as we clearly see in this passage. In a similar way, God organizes divine encounters for us with those who do yet not believe, if we are listening and go share this message in obedience like Peter.

Christmas time is a great time for you to share what it meant for God to come in the flesh. Not in a pushy way but as God leads you with the people he leads you to like Cornelius.

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