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THE CONVERSION OF CORNELIUS (3)
Victor M. Eskew
A. In two previous lessons, we have looked into the conversion of Cornelius.
B. At this point in our study, Peter has entered into the home of Cornelius and has taught him the gospel of Christ.
1. Remember, Cornelius will be the first Gentile convert.
2. God has already done much to confirm to Peter that the Gentiles could obey the gospel and become members of the body of Christ.
3. God, however, was not finished. There was something else that would be done to confirm to Peter and the Jews that the Gentiles were acceptable.
I. A UNIQUIE MAN (Acts 10:44-47)
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on 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 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 has received the Holy Ghost as well as we.
A. Cornelius was unique because he was one who received the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
1. Some would disagree.
2. They believe that only the apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
B. There are several reasons why I believe Cornelius and his household received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
1. Peter said that what happened at Cornelius’ house reminded him of Jesus’ words.
a. Acts 11:15-16
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us as the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
b. If this was not the baptism of the Holy Ghost, why did Peter remember “these” words of the Jesus?
c. Was Peter reminded of words that really did not apply to the situation?
2. Peter noted that the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles, “as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15).
a. First, he goes all the way back to the beginning, Pentecost day. The fillings of the Holy Spirit were not comparable to what happened (See Acts 4:31)
b. “As” is an adverb of manner. “In the manner,” that is, as was on us at the beginning.
c. The only event to which Peter could liken this was the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
3. The resemblances between the two events:
a. Both outpourings of the Holy Spirit happened at the opening of the doors of the kingdom: the Jews (Acts 2) and the Gentiles (Acts 10).
b. Both events involve the words “poured out” in connection with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:45; Acts 2:17).
c. Both involved the speaking in tongues (Acts 10:46; Acts 2:4).
d. Both brought amazement to those present (Acts 10:45; Acts 2:7).
e. Both served a primary purpose:
1) Empowered the apostles to begin to preach the gospel
2) Convinced the Jews of God’s acceptance of the Gentiles
C. The objection: The apostles received the miraculous powers of the apostolic office, but Cornelius’ house did not.
1. The promise of those powers was only to the apostles even though it was associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4).
2. Cornelius and his household did not receive the power because they were not apostles, but they did receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
II. A SAVED MAN
A. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit convinced Peter and the Jews that the Gentiles could obey the gospel. Thus, Peter commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10:48).
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
1. Why would he command them to be baptized? Because he had been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to give this command (Matt. 28:19; Mark 10:15-16).
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
2. It was the same command Peter had given to the believing Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2:38).
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
B. Some religious groups teach that baptism does not save.
1. One of the arguments is that baptism is a work and works do not save.
a. There are some works that do not save (Tit. 3:5).
Not by works of righteousness which we have done…
b. There are some works that do save (Acts 10:35; See Ps. 119:172).
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
2. The affirmation that baptism does not save goes in direct contradiction to Peter’s words in I Peter 3:21.
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
III. A REHEARSED MAN
A. When Peter returned to Jerusalem, he was confronted by those “that were of the circumcision” (Acts 11:2).
B. Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning and expounded it by order unto them” (Acts 11:3).
C. The most convincing element of his presentation involved the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
1. The Reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15)
2. The Remembrance of Jesus’ Word (Acts 11:16)
3. The Response of Peter (Acts 11:17)
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I that I could withstand God?
4. The Rejoicing of the Jews (Acts 11:18)
When they heard these things, they hold their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
A. With this man’s obedience to the gospel, God’s plan of redemption was fully set in motion. The world would now hear and have the opportunity to accept the gospel.
B. This conversion would bring a firestorm of controversy within the church.
1. Some would try to bind the Law of Moses on the Gentiles.
2. A council would be called in Jerusalem to settle the dispute.
a. Peter will speak at the meeting and reference the events at the house of Cornelius (Acts 15:6-8).
b. The meeting only confirmed what had already been determined by God. Cornelius, and all the world, could hear and obey the gospel free from the bonds of the Law of Moses.
C. It is interesting that both grace and faith played a part in the conversion of Cornelius.
1. Faith (Acts 15:9)
And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
2. Grace (Acts 15:11)
We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved, even as they.