Read - Acts 10v9-29
Message - Stott Woodburn
The men sent by Cornelius have almost arrived at Joppa (v9). Peter however is unaware of their approach and so at lunchtime he takes himself to the rooftop to pray. It is there that he receives a vision from God (v10). A great sheet descends from heaven (v11) with all kinds of unclean animals contained within (v12). The Lord had given all sorts of dietary requirements to the church in the Old Testament and so Peter's response is no surprise.
The Lord commands him to “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” (v13) but Peter, as a devout Jew, says that he cannot, for he has never eaten anything that is common or unclean (v14). Yet the Lord insists “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (v15) with the event happening three times (v16). If we're perplexed by the meaning of this we can be encouraged because Peter was too (v17). Yet he doesn't have too much time to ponder. Cornelius' men arrive (v17) and the Holy Spirit urges Peter to go with them to Caesarea (v19-20).
When Peter arrives in Caesarea he is met by Cornelius who falls down before him in worship (v25) The Apostle rebukes him gently and says “Stand up; I too am a man.” (v26) before explaining to Cornelius (and indeed to us) what the rooftop vision was all about. Peter says that previously it was considered unlawful for him, a Jew, to associate or visit anyone like Cornelius, a Gentile (v28). We have already seen that Jews and Samaritans did not get along and they had much more in common than Jew and Gentile. Here was Peter a devout Jew, willingly associating himself with a Gentile dog (Matthew 15v26). This is a remarkable event in the history of the church for now Peter declares "God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean." (v28)
We cannot stress Ephesians 2v11-16 enough when Paul writes "Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called 'the uncircumcision' by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility."
The Gospel knows no barriers and fellowship should to offered to a brother in sister in Christ regardless of background. The wall of hostility has been destroyed by Christ and we should not seek to build replacements.
Ireland's favorite son John Brogan, once preached in English to a Korean congregation. After the sermon a man approached John and thanked him for his message and told him "we believe the same things" Indeed. Color, class or race matter not one iota in the church. The Gospel gives us peace with our fellow believers and greater still, peace with God. In Christ the common are made holy and the unclean are made spotless. Thanks be to God!
Q13 Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created? Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.