Views 1256 Votes 0 2012.04.22 14:40:20
Title: A Close Encounter of the Personal Kind
Scripture: Acts 10 & 11 (selected verses)
Preacher: Rev. Jerry McGlone
Date: Sunday, 4/8/12
There was a man in Caesarea by the name of Cornelius, a centurion in what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a deeply religious man who reverenced God, as did all his household. He made many charitable gifts to the people and was a real man of prayer. About three o'clock one afternoon he saw perfectly clearly in a dream an angel of God coming into his room, approaching him, and saying, "Cornelius!" He stared at the angel in terror, and said, "What is it, Lord?" The angel replied, "Your prayers and your deeds of charity have gone up to Heaven and are remembered before God. Now send men to Joppa for a man called Simon, who is also known as Peter."
On the next day he got up and set out with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa, arriving at Caesarea on the day after that. Cornelius was expecting them and had invited together all his relations and intimate friends.
Then Peter began to speak, "In solemn truth I can see now that God is no respecter of persons, but that in every nation the man who reverences him and does what is right is acceptable to him! You must know the story of Jesus of Nazareth - why, it has spread through the whole of Judea, beginning with Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed. You must have heard how God anointed him with the power of the Holy Spirit, of how he went about doing good and healing all who suffered from the devil's power - because God was with him. Now we are eye-witnesses of everything that he did, both in the Judean country and in Jerusalem itself, and yet they murdered him by hanging him on a cross. But on the third day God raised that same Jesus and let him be clearly seen, not indeed by the whole people, but by witnesses whom God had previously chosen. We are those witnesses, we who ate and drank with him after he had risen from the dead! Moreover, we are the men whom he commanded to preach to the people and bear fearless witness to the fact that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of both the living and the dead. It is to him that all the prophets bear witness, that every man who believes in him may receive forgiveness of sins through his name."
While Peter was still speaking these words the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and all who were listening to his message. The Jewish believers who had come with Peter were absolutely amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit was being poured out on Gentiles also; for they heard them speaking in foreign tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter exclaimed, "Could anyone refuse water or object to these men being baptised - men who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?"
When the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received God's message. So when Peter next visited Jerusalem the circumcision-party were full of criticism of Peter. After Peter explained how the situation had actually arisen, the apostles in Jerusalem had no furhter objection. And they praised God, saying, "Then obviously God has given to the Gentiles as well the gift of repentance which leads to life.". (Selected Verses of Acts 10 & 11, New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips)