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The Italian Band

July 4, 2007

It was a notable time concerning the first moments of the church.  The promise of the Holy Ghost had not yet been poured out unto the Gentiles and in fact there were even disputings over whether or not salvation even applied to the Gentiles.   At the appropriate time, the Holy Ghost was poured out on the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius and the issue was settled.  Without a doubt, the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ was for all and in the years to come, the apostle Paul would be sent far hence into Gentile lands; even to Rome and the palace of Ceasar. 

Acts 10:1-2  “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurian of the band called the Italian band.  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave alms to the people, and prayed to God always.”

A Gentile soldier and his household who worshipped the Holy One of Israel to the best of their understanding.  He feared God and prayed always.  It’s amazing that a man from a predominately pagan background would grasp the understanding of sincerety toward God.  Somehow, he knew that the God of Israel was real and he was fearful.  As a result of his belief in the God of Israel from his heart, he gave much to the people and prayed often.  It wasn’t for show or favor of man; it was authentic. 

Acts 10:3-5  “He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him Cornelius.  And when he looked on him, he was afraid and said, What is it Lord?  And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for for a memorial before God.  And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:  He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.” 

He sought after God in all sincerety and this didn’t go unnoticed.  And when he received instruction to call for Peter, he did what any would do who desire to worship God in spirit and in truth.  He was obediant.  When the Lord told him what he must do in order to receive instruction, he didn’t hesitate.  He revealed the matter to his two servants along the soldier who stayed with him and sent them to Joppa to call for Peter.  He probably would have compassed sea and land if he had been instructed to do so. 

As they approached Joppa, Peter was on the roof of the house in prayer while dinner was being prepared.  Here, while in prayer, he fell into a trance. 

Acts 10:11-13  “And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at four corners, and let down to the earth:  Wherein all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.  And there arose a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”

Suddenly, he was being instructed to do something contrary to all of his upbringing.  Contrary to scripture it would seem.  To this, Peter responds in a way that…well…sounds like a vintage Peter response.

Acts 10:14-15  “But peter said, Not so Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.  And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” 

This vision takes place three times and is received again into heaven.  It leaves Peter a little bewildered.  “What was that all about?” A vision that seemed to defy longheld standards suddenly transpiring at a time when peter was probably somewhat preoccupied with the dinner that was being prepared.  To add to this confusion, the men sent by Cornelius suddenly arrived at Simon the tanners house to inquire of Simon whose surname is Peter.  (That had to be a little confusing.  Kind of like the weekend when our daughter Megan had a friend, also named Megan staying and Morgan likewise had a friend named Megan staying over.  Three Megans at once!)

Acts 10:19-20  “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, behold three men seek thee.  Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”

At this point it all comes into focus that the Lord is doing a work and the thing for Peter to do is just “go with it.”  Knowing that if God’s in it all will be well and the name of Jesus will be magnified.  (This is getting long; I’ll try to hurry.) 

The next day, Peter and certain brethren from Joppa return with the three men back to Caesarea.  For Peter it had to be an uneasy experience; knowing that he would be interracting with folks who, most likely, have no knowledge of the God of Israel.  His entire life had most likely been spent avoiding such interractions.   I wonder if perhaps the “tall tales” concerning the ungodly lifestyles of the Gentiles that he must have heard as a youth were playing in his mind.  (That’s not scripture; just my own imagination imagining what Peter might have been imagining.  I imagine.)  

When Cornelius meets Peter he bows down in worship.  I don’t think it was so much a worship of Peter but a spontaneous reaction to knowing that God had sent him to reveal truth.  Truth that Cornelius was so hungry for.  This scene had to be incredible.  Cornelius had called together many acquaintances and the house must have been filled to capacity with Gentiles.  A completely awkward situation for Peter to be walking into and had God not prepared his heart ahead of time, one that he wouldn’t have ventured into.  Peter comments as follows:

 Acts 10:28-29  “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.  Therefore came i unto you without gasinsaying, as soon as I was sent for:  I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?” 

Cornelius then tells Peter about the vision and Peter, after acknowledging that God is no respector of persons, presents the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He presents a complete picture to the audience of Jesus and how that all who believe on him should receive remission of sins.  However, even though he knew that this meeting was a divine appointment I imagine that what took place next caught him completely by surprise.

Acts 10:44-47  “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.  Then answered peter,  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”

The question of whether or not salvation was offered to the Gentiles was resolved.  In a most undeniable fashion.  It was the beginning of what Jesus said must transpire before the end.  The gospel must be preached into all the world for a witness unto all nations.  (Matthew 24:14)  For Peter and the other jewish disciples, it was a new way of viewing the Gentiles.  Viewing them not as barbaric pagans outside the house of Israel, but as people for whom Christ died.  Their sins were paid for at Calvary also, and those Gentiles who believe upon Jesus were to be counted as brethren.  All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Jesus shed his blood on Calvary for all. 

Well I have to be going for now.  I was just visiting this passage of scripture a couple of days ago and became minded to post on it.  We truly have a great salvation. A salvation so amazing that none of us can completely grasp just how incredible it is.  (Though we can continuously gain in understanding)  Or just how awesome our Father in heaven is who loved us so much that he would make a way for us to be reconciled unto himself. 

Romans 3:21-23  “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:  For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;” 

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3 comments

  1. I love reading the story of Cornelius in the Bible. I actually did a post on him not too long ago myself. Here is a man that seemed to have it all together. He was devout, prayed to God always and gave much alms, but God wanted to show him that He had something more for him, and Cornelius became the first Gentile to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost! I’m thankful that when people are truly hungry for God, God will reveal more of Himself to them. Thanks for this post, and I hope you have a happy 4th of July.

    Here is a link to my Cornelius post, if you’d like to read it sometime.
    http://writeathome.wordpress.com/2007/05/28/corneliuss-memorial-day/

    Many blessings,

    Carol


  2. Just letting you know I am still out here lurking and reading… 🙂


  3. Good post Timbob, I too love this account of Gods faithfulness to see His will done. Even when people aren’t on the same page as the Lord He has a way of bringing them /us around!
    I love seeing the Lord pour out His Spirit as only He can do!

    Blessings to you Tim, I hope you are enjoying your time off with your family!

    Susan



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