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Acts 10





This is a pivotal chapter in the Book of Acts as well as in the history of the church.  Until this time, the Gospel had only been shared with the Jews first and then the Samaritans.  As far as we know, no Gentile had been witnessed to and no Gentile had been saved.

But as the Great Commission teaches that the Gospel would be preached to all nations (ethne or people groups) and as the Acts 1:8 model dictates that the Gospel would be taken to the ends of the earth, at some point Gentiles would have to hear the Gospel.

As always God was working.  When He saved Saul, He saved the one who would be the apostle to the Gentiles.  And when He caused the vision of the sheet with all kinds of animals to appear three times to Peter, He was preparing the man who would be the first to take the Gospel to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles in this story would be a Roman centurion named Cornelius as well as those in his household.  Cornelius is a prime example of a man who was very religious but not a Christian.  He believed in the one, true God.  He prayed.  He even gave support to the poor.  But he did not have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.

Because of the sincerity of his search, God sent an angel to Cornelius with explicit instructions to send after a man named Simon Peter.  Like any good soldier would, Cornelius quickly obeyed.  And in the meantime, God was preparing Peter for the task ahead.

The vision of the sheet with all kinds of animals in it served a couple of different purposes.  One, it made all animals clean.  It took away the Old Testament dietary restrictions which, among other things, made bacon legal.  Two, it made no difference between Jewish people and Gentiles.

Beginning in verse 34, Peter shared the Gospel with Cornelius and all those gathered in his house.  While Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the Word.  This is another proof that the preaching/teaching/sharing of God’s Word is absolutely necessary for salvation.  No one gets saved apart from the Scripture. 

What happens in verses 44-48 is also evidence that the presence of the Holy Spirit is undeniable, irrefutable proof of salvation.  It was not until after their salvation that they were baptized which is the Biblical model.

I think there are many take aways from this chapter.  One of those is we must never try to put God in a box.  He doesn’t go in there well and He seldom stays in there.  God is big enough and good enough to do whatever He wants to do.  We should not try to hinder that.  Instead we should be eager to be a part of that even if it doesn’t fit our notion of how God should operate.

Another take away is God loves all people.  It is true that the Jews are His chosen people.  But He loves everyone and, therefore, wants everyone to be saved. 

A third take away is when anyone anywhere gets serious about seeking God, God always shows up in a big, big way.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Acts 9





The story of Saul continues to become prominent in the story of early Christianity and the young New Testament Church.  As the chapter opens, Saul is still on a rampage against Christ followers and he is extending his search to areas as far away as Damascus.  He is going there to arrest any Christ followers he might find and bring them back to Jerusalem where they would most certainly face imprisonment.

What Saul didn’t know was that God was orchestrating things to bring Saul face to face with Jesus.  And when that happened on the road to Damascus a lot of things changed.  In fact, in Philippians 3:12, Paul says God took hold of or apprehended him.  In other words, the one who was going to arrest Christ followers was arrested by Christ.

The story then shifts to a home on Straight Street in Damascus.  Saul had been praying and fasting for three days.  That leads us to the privilege of meeting a man named Ananias.  Remember that if Jesus had not arrested Saul, we would never have meet Ananias.  And yet Ananias would become a critical piece in the story.

For lots of real reasons, Ananias was less than excited about going to Saul.  He even reminded God of some of the stuff Saul had been doing to Christ followers. But God was adamant.  Ananias was obedient.  And Saul was saved. 

There is an interesting statement at the end of verse 19.  “For some days, he was with the disciples in Damascus”.  Have you ever thought about the fact that Saul was discipled after he was saved?  Can you imagine being one of those who had the responsibility of discipling Saul?

When you get to verses 25-26, the Scripture seems to read as if as soon as Saul left Damascus, he went straight to Jerusalem.  But that is not the case.  Galatians 1 helps us understand that after leaving Damascus, Saul went to Arabia and spent three years there before going back to Jerusalem.  During that time according to Galatians 1, Paul did not confer with people but received his instruction and call directly from the Lord.

When Saul finally arrived in Jerusalem, he had a struggle being accepted by the church there.  His pre-salvation testimony was still in place and preceding him.  But a man named Barnabas comes back on the scene (We first met him at the end of chapter 4.) and helped Saul be accepted by the Christ followers in Jerusalem.

From there the story goes back to Peter and his work for the Kingdom.  He and his ministry will take center stage for the next few chapters.  And it is through God using Peter that Gentiles hear the Gospel and are saved. 

We must never doubt that God has a great plan.  We must never doubt that God’s plan is going to be carried out.  And we must never doubt that God is able to use a lot of folk – the well known and the unknown, the major actors and minor players, the fearful and the fearless, the disciplers and the encouragers, even the living and the dead to accomplish exactly what He wants to do.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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