Acts 10 - God shows no partiality
“19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Who are “all nations”? This direct command from Jesus to his disciples obviously outlines what they are to do, but does not clearly state to whom they are to do it too. Teaching and proclaiming Christ’s resurrection must have been difficult in the first century. Especially when there was a cultural divide between whom the disciples thought should receive this blessing, and who the Lord wanted to receive his blessing. This cultural divide originated from people born into the Jewish tradition and the Gentiles, or a non-ethic Jew.
Modern day scholarship agrees that Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, was a tremendously detailed historian. The accounts Luke recorded in Acts have withstood the test of time and criticism from many perspectives. The story in chapter 10 meticulously details a critical turning point in the history of the early church. The disciples knew the command from Jesus in Matthew 28 but the uncertainty lay upon this detail, could the baptism of the Holy Spirit come upon both a believer who was Jewish and a believer who was a Gentile. Cornelius, the Centurion, was a well-respected Gentile. When the Lord provided him with a vision to call Peter to his home, there is work occurring in both Cornelius and Peter’s heart breaking down the current cultural assumptions. As a first century Jew it was commonly thought that Jews (Peter) were not to associate with Gentiles (Cornelius). This was not tolerated as they, Gentiles were not considered to be part of the “select” group blessed by God. After receiving his own vision, Peter followed the command of the Lord and traveled to Cornelius to speak to him and his family.
“34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35)
By proclaiming the word of God to Cornelius, Peter was fulfilling the great commission to the letter. He was making disciples of all nations.
“42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42)
Here is the turning point…
“44 While Peter was still saying these things; the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.” (Acts 10:44)
It was at this juncture the Lord demonstrated that the blessing of receiving the Holy Spirit is for everyone, both Jewish and Gentile. Anyone who believed that Jesus of Nazareth was the anointed one, sent by God, crucified on the cross, and raised three days later could receive the Holy Spirit!
The implications of this event are incredible, both for the early church and the church today. As it was in the first century the grace of the Holy Spirit is for everyone. Everyone who believes and seeks the word of God is reconciled to God the Father, through the Son, by way of the Holy Spirit. This is the good news! No matter how broken you may think you are. No matter what your current station in life is. It does not matter what deeds you have done in the past. The Holy Spirit will work in you to transform your old self into something new, wonderful and that proclaims the glory of the risen Savior.
We must ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to break down barriers, heal hearts, remove addiction, restore relationships, and transform us into the likeness of Christ.
“17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
True power is found in Holy Spirit. True love is found in Holy Spirit. True freedom is found in Holy Spirit.
Twenty-first century culture is not kind to Christians. Many hearts and minds are hardened to the word of God. Many refuse to consider the God of the Bible as true. Many do not want to place God in the superior position as the Creator and Lord of all.
“5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)
The same command given to the first disciples in Matthew 28 is the same command for Christians today. Tell people about the glory of Christ, what he has done for you, and what the Savior could do for them!
“15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15)
The experience of telling someone about Christ for the first time can be scary and awkward. You might feel unprepared, not ready, or thinking there has to be someone else who can do this more effectively. No one can be “talked in to” believing in Jesus. We are charged to proclaim the truth. The truth is exposed to someone through the Holy Spirit. This relieves the personal pressure of failing to provide the Lord a new believer in Christ. The pressure to verbalize “the hope that is within you” is still the same, but the Holy Spirit will honor your faithfulness. The Holy Spirit is the changing agent in reorienting a person’s heart towards Jesus Christ.
“6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)
So speak boldly and be fearless in your discipleship to your family and to others around you. Pray continually asking for the Holy Spirit to use you. Be the hands and feet of Jesus, doing the hard work that needs to be completed for the Lord. As Acts 10 discloses, the Holy Spirit is for “all nations”. Remember, you are not alone in this task. The Holy Spirit is here, among us, actively working in us, and His church. The Spirit gives life and that is the hope that is in us.