And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Who shall tell theewords, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. (Acts 11:13-15)
We have been looking at the third of three conversion stories in the center of the book of Acts, that of Cornelius. An angel had come to the God-fearing Roman officer while in prayer, bidding him send for Peter, who would tell him “Words whereby you and your house shall be saved”.
Notice, the Angel of God himself didn’t preach the gospel to Cornelius. One would expect the Angel to preach, for the very word ‘Angel’ means ‘ messenger’. In fact our word ‘Evangelist’ is composed of the prefix,’Eu’, ie ‘good’ ,and the word ‘Angel’. The gospel, literally, the “evangel” is a “good message”.
But God would give redeemed sinners among men the privilege to bring the “evangel”. The Angel in the story only arranges the meeting. Send for Peter, to tell you “Words whereby you and your household shall be saved”.
The Acts gives us an outline of the message that Peter delivered to Cornelius, his friends and family. Where does one begin when given the opportunity to bring the good message to a house full of expectant listeners, who are ready to receive whatever God has for them? After assuring his hearers that God is no respecter of persons or nations,Peter begins by calling Jesus himself “the Word which God sent”.
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all); That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.(Acts 10:36-38)
Peter began where John began, proclaiming Jesus as the Word of God, sent by God. By calling Jesus the Word of God, he is referring to His Deity. He preached that “Jesus is Lord of all”, a powerful confession of Deity. Jesus is the eternal , everlasting, creating, and self existing Word of the Lord. The healing and the deliverance that he brings from Satan, are themselves messages from God to us, God heals, Saves from evil, God cares about us and sent Jesus to save us.
But He also referred to Him as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, an earthly name , a human being, a resident of a backwater town on the edge of the Roman empire. By mentioning that “God has Anointed Jesus of Nazareth”, he proclaims that Jesus is the long-awaited Christ of God, spoken of by the prophets.
And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.(Acts 10:39-41)
Peter next turned his hearer’s attention to the fact that the Apostles selected by Jesus are the witnesses to the gospel. Jesus didn’t write a book, He appointed these witnesses and entrusted all to them. Everyone who would believe on Jesus would believe because of the testimony of these witnesses.
To say that someone should believe in Jesus is tantamount to saying that one should believe the apostles, for God has committed all to them. Particularly to their witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter says in effect, “We saw him crucified on the tree, and then we saw him alive on the third day, and we even ate with Him!”.Why should we believe the apostles? For believe them we must, if we are going to be saved.
I believe in the apostles, because they sealed their testimony on blood. 11 out of 12 of them died Martyr’s death, ( in fact they transformed the word martyr by their actions, it originally only meant ‘witness’). True, many have died for a lie, but if the resurrection was a lie, the apostles knew it. Who would knowingly die for a lie?
I believe them also because of who they were and what they became. The Apostles were devout Jews, strictly Monotheistic, so how is it that they became worshippers of Jesus? What would it take to get someone of that religion to worship a man they ate, drank, slept and lived with? Nothing less than a resurrection!
Or consider James and Jude, the Lord’s half brothers. They too were strict and devout monotheistic Jews, even James enemies called him ‘James the Just’. Yet James refers to his half-brother as “The Lord of Glory”, and Jude calls him, “the only wise God and our Saviour”. How did they go from not even believing that Jesus was a prophet, to becoming his worshippers? Would you worship your half-brother under any circumstances?
The “Saving Words” that Peter brought to the house of hungry, open gentiles, were of Jesus, as God,Lord, Saviour, and as man, anointed by God. And they were of the cross and resurrection indeed, but also of the Apostles, and the necessity of believing their witness. He will go on to discuss the Judgement, the prophets, and of course forgiveness of sin, which we will discuss in the next article.