Things happen all around us all the time that we can’t understand. Sometimes these things encourage us and at times they affect us negatively. But we need to say that when God is at work, we might not have understanding as to what is happening because it is supernatural, yet it ought to be an encouragement to us, even when the news is bad … because God is at work. When God ceases to work, we need to panic!
At present, we are in the midst of Peter proclaiming the Gospel to Cornelius and his invited guests. Cornelius was a God-fearing man and recognized as such by God. God wanted him to hear the Gospel and at the same time God wanted Peter to grasp that no person, irrespective of their ethnicity will be refused entry into His Kingdom if they believe in Jesus’ Penal, Substitutionary, Sacrificial, Death at Calvary. We continue to read:
Ac 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.
1) A repeat of Pentecost. Almost exactly what happened to the apostles as the Holy Spirit enabled them to speak in known earthly languages, unknown to them, so that everyone present at Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), could hear the Gospel in their native tongue, happened to Cornelius and his invited guests. The difference was that they were Gentiles.
Ac 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
Ac 10:46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
(1) A reminder … the Greek for “tongues” means known earthly languages. Never lose sight of this small meaning because it has become a huge matter in the Church today where people interpret it as people being able to speak in some “heavenly language”.
(2) The major difference between Pentecost and Cornelius’ house is that the former was the preaching of the Word of God whilst the latter was praising God.
(3) Then the main reason for this happening was that God accepted Gentiles into His Kingdom in the exact same way He accepted the Jews into His Kingdom. It was through the proclamation of the Gospel received by faith and through repentance. Note verse 44 … whilst Peter was preaching the Holy Spirit came upon ALL who heard the message!
(4) This is not the normal way people are saved today. This was the First Century and extraordinary things were required to prove the veracity of the Gospel, both to Jews and to Gentiles. Today we have a few things they did not have then …
(a) We have the full canon of Scripture. They had the Old Testament.
(b) Within the New Testament we have the message of the Messiah who was promised, having come and fulfilled the Law and Prophets by going to the Cross, dying and rising as an acceptable offering, received and approved by the Father as full and final payment for sin. We have the Gospel!
(c) We have a credible record of Church History which tells us that the Gospel of God saves souls in their multitudes.
(d) We are also witnesses of many all around us who though stubborn opponents of the Gospel, buckled to Truth and have been saved.
(e) And lastly we have our own personal conversion experience.
2) The meaning of the Holy Spirit coming on the people.
Ac 10:44 The Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
Ac 10:47 “They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
I am fully aware that lots of people (and Churches) will have all sorts of doctrines and theological positions for these verses, but God is not a God of confusion. The simplicity of the Gospel is that “the Holy Spirit came on” and “the gift of the Holy Spirit” is all about being born again. Without the Holy Spirit bringing a dead soul to life, there is no possibility of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God.
The manifestation of the Spirit in the lives of Cornelius and his guests proves the presence of the Spirit bringing life to the soul which results in praise to God. Peter saw that what happened here was what happened to them in Acts 2. Clearly, he understood God was for the Gentiles.
Again, this is another encouraging motivation to spread the Gospel to as many as possible, in as many countries as possible so that as many people from all ethnicities might believe and be saved. Another good reminder is that once one experiences the new birth, praise and adoration to God follows.
The shape of this is multidimensional. Note what happened at Cornelius’ house … speaking in tongues and praising God. They spoke about what happened to them and they praise God for what happened. The more we share our testimony with people, the more people will be enthused to follow Jesus. Then together we shall all be praising God for His awesome goodness, pouring grace into our souls, causing spiritual life that leads to eternal life.
3) The astonishment of the believing Jews.
Ac 10:45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
Remember they were all Jews … all like Peter was before the “sheet with clean and unclean animals on it”. They needed to be convinced that Gentiles were acceptable to God … and they were. This was the greatest breakthrough for the Early Church because it meant the intention of Acts 1:8 was in full swing … “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Why ought you and I to be thrilled with this development? Because we are Gentiles and this experience motivated the Church to look outward itself to those not Jews who needed to be evangelized.
Father, thank You for expanding the Kingdom to non-Jews. We Gentiles praise You for this. Amen.