Acts Devotionals

Mission Accomplished

On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush delivered a speech announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq. “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed,” the president told a crowd of cheering service members. Bush delivered the televised speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln with a “Mission Accomplished” banner hanging above his head.

There have been many “mission accomplished” declarations and moments throughout history … yet as we conclude the passage we have been working through dealing with Peter and his change from a hardline “Jews only for heaven” persuasion to one that accepts all peoples (Gentiles) who believe in the Lord Jesus and His salvific work through “the sheet / animal experience and the Cornelius visit”, we find a “mission accomplished” moment there. This was certainly a milestone in the life of the Early Church as it started to spread throughout the world.

What is also significant is that God was gracious to Peter. He was a work in progress … just like you and I are. It is interesting that he was the one who denied Jesus and after this present incident, he would take a hard line and support those who insisted on Gentiles being circumcised if they wanted salvation. Naturally, this was wrong and Paul needed to correct him.

What caused him to tend towards legalism could easily be our problem. The movement called the “circumcision group” insisted that Gentile Christians be circumcised, observe Jewish festivals, dietary laws and keep the Sabbath. In other words, they wanted to remain Jews with Messiah Jesus as an attachment, yet the writer to the Hebrews clearly explains that the Old Covenant is now obsolete.

Let us never make such mistakes by insisting that for salvation people need to believe in Jesus and then add a whole list of additional things that either a person or a Church requires. Too often, without realizing it, Christians can be legalistic, even in small ways such as adding the Bible version, singing only certain songs (hymns), dressing up for Church, membership and a host of other things. All these individually and all of them together might be good and helpful, but added to salvation’s requires means legalism. Once a person is saved by grace through faith, the mission is accomplished for that soul’s conversion to Jesus. Thereafter the hard work of growing in grace starts … and like us never ends until we step into glory! The proof of mission accomplished for Cornelius, his household and all his invited guests was twofold.

1) They as Gentiles were baptized into the Christian faith.

Ac 10:48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

(1) Baptism was ordered. Other translations say “He commanded that they be baptized”. Don’t see this as an act of force from Peter. These Gentiles were now Christian and Peter together with the other apostles were commanded by Jesus:

Mt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

All Peter was doing was following Jesus’ instructions. Why?

(2) To be baptized as a Christian means to identify with Jesus. This holds true for the new believer. He or she may be reminded that when they surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus they were baptized. They identified with this Godman Jesus who died and rose again securing forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God and has saved their soul. It is a vivid experience that they can hold onto and refer to when they experience doubts in the future.

(3) To be baptized as a Christian means the candidate is declaring to all onlookers that he or she has crossed that invisible line and now lives under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Others are now welcomed to observe their lifestyle and practice of Biblical Doctrines to see whether they are fulfilling their commitment to Jesus in baptism.

(4) To be baptized as a Christian means the world in general are welcomed to look at you and see what worshipping Jesus is all about. It does not say in the text that these baptisms were open for the unbelieving world to see, but wherever it was practiced it would have been in public and would have drawn crowds. Remember Cornelius was a Roman Military Officer and his invited guests were likely people of influence. All those passing by the baptismal event would have seen them and could now monitor whether this “Christian Thing” has substance … is it a religion they too could follow?

(2) Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Many make an issue out of this. There is no difference to being baptized into the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit’s name and in the name of Jesus Christ. God is Jesus and Jesus is God. The non-negotiable name into which Christians are baptized is “in the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit”. That is the formula. I would suggest that here … baptized in the name of Jesus Christ … is only a way of saying the people are now Christians and being associated with Jesus were baptized as Christians into the name of the Christian God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whether you were baptized as an infant of believing parents or whether you were baptized as a believer, you need to show the world what true Biblical Christian is all about.

2) An extended visit.

Ac 10:48 Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

This group of new believers asked that he stay. I see this as the Holy Spirit prompting them because of the Great Commission:

Mt 28:20 “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

They were Gentiles. They were foreigners to the morality of the Jesus and needed to be discipled. Peter now had the opportunity of disciplining them, teaching them everything he could in the time he had available. I cannot state this sufficiently … Christians need more than a Sunday Worship Service! They need a Bible Study and Prayer Meeting. Friend you need to be discipled whoever you are … and remember, discipleship is not for four weeks and you have it all. Discipleship lasts for the rest of your life. Then once you are adult in the faith, you can start the process with others.

Help us, Lord, to be willing disciples of Jesus. Amen.

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