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29 October 2023  // Acts 10

When God Moves                                                                          
Kyle Childress/Jose Maldonado
Acts 10                                                                                          
APPLICATION:  Read Acts Chapter 10 & watch/listen to Oct 29 sermon.  

God Speaks to Cornelius – vs. 1-6
Cornelius Obeys – vs. 7-8
God Speaks to Peter – vs. 9-16
A divine moment was being created
A change was happening
Peter is Perplexed – vs. 17-20
Peter Obeys – vs. 21-23
A Plan Comes Together –vs. 23b-29
The Plan Revealed – vs. 30-33
  • What did the message teach me about God/Jesus/Holy Spirit?
  • What did the message teach me about the human condition?
  • Is there anything I need to confess, repent, or be grateful for, because of this passage?
  • How do I need help in believing and applying this scripture to my life?
  • How can I encourage others with this passage?
Motivation to Go

A veteran pastor served for years in a small town in northern Montana. One day the Lord called him home to heaven, and it appeared his earthly sojourn was complete. As it turned out, however, he had been brought to glory a little earlier than the heavenly schedule had designed. After making the appropriate apologies, the Lord informed the pastor he would have to return to that dreary small town and continue to serve until the actual time of his home going arrived.

Upon this announcement, an argument ensued, with the pastor actually saying, “I won’t go!” and the Lord reminding him, “You must!” Finally the pastor said, “Well, Lord, I’ll go back to northern Montana if you’ll go with me.” After the Lord pondered the offer for several minutes he finally replied, “Well, I’ll go with you as far as Billings.”

Silly nonsense, of course, but descriptive of Peter’s early mood when that odious sheet came down. By the time the messengers arrived, he had dealt with his attitude and was quite motivated to go and accomplish whatever God wished of him. Furthermore, God went with him all the way to Caesarea and stayed with him every moment.

To be sure, the essence of this chapter, its theological epicenter, focuses on the proclamation of the gospel to Gentiles and their receipt of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, Peter’s role as the reluctant messenger offers us significant lessons as well. Peter’s first sermon upon beginning his address dealt with something he himself had just learned—God does not show favoritism. The specific context deals with the offer of salvation and the universal gospel, but the phrase extends itself into much more far-reaching aspects of Christian life.

God does not show favoritism … even though we often do. Every time we cater to wealthy people in a church and ignore those whose offerings do not enhance its ministry, we show favoritism (Jas. 2:1–9). Favoritism, says James, is sin, and one sin makes us as guilty as another no matter what artificial hierarchy of sin we may have constructed in the contemporary church.

Obviously, the opposite of positive favoritism is negative discrimination—on any basis. Solid evangelical Christians practice discrimination in ways far wider than race, age, or gender, though those common areas still present a minefield of failure. We discriminate when we don’t allow sound believers of other denominations to preach in the pulpits of our denomination. We discriminate when we fail to accept baptism by another group for membership in our congregation, even though that baptism may be the same mode we practice. We constantly favor those we like and avoid those we dislike, favor those who agree with us and shun those who disagree. God does not show favoritism, and we should post in front of every evangelical church, whatever its label, and hang on the walls of every Christian home, regardless of its location, a readable and attention-grabbing sign—“NO FAVORITISM ALLOWED!”[1]
A.  Centurions (v. 1)
Although the Romans come in for their share of scathing denunciation in the New Testament, several notable exceptions appear in the form of centurions. A centurion in Capernaum had built a synagogue for the Jews and was so revered that they begged Jesus to heal his servant (Matt. 8:5–13; Luke 7:2–10). Of this man Jesus said, “I have not found such great faith even in Israel” (Luke 7:9). We already know the story of Cornelius as a God-fearer and newborn Christian. In Acts 27 we will meet Julius of the Augustinian band who not only was commissioned to take Paul to Rome but saved his life in the process.
We certainly dare not forget the centurion who might have become the first believer. Guarding the dying Savior at the cross, terrified by the earthquake and accompanying events, he declared with his men “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matt. 27:54) Luke goes on to tell us that this very centurion “praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man’ ” (Luke 23:47). The text of neither Gospel tells us that this resulted in salvation, but certainly such a declaration throughout the pages of the New Testament marked those who became genuine believers.

B.  Unclean Foods (v. 14)
Jews generally identified animals by species. Any kind of sea creature (such as a shell fish without usual scales) was unclean, as were four-footed animals which did not have cloven hoofs or do not chew their cud. Obviously, pigs represent this category well. Perhaps Peter’s sheet contained clean animals as well, but the ugly mixture must have scandalized him. We know of no Jewish rule indicating that the unclean animals on the sheet would have defiled the clean animals, but the voice had made no distinction whatsoever as to selecting only certain of the animals which Peter could have approved. His withdrawal and disgust indicates that either the sheet contained only unclean animals or, more likely, that it contained an indistinguishable mix which he had no intention of touching.

C.  Divine Revelation (vv. 3–6, 13–15)
At this point in Acts, where we have visions occurring right and left, it might be worthwhile to note that any messenger of God holds equal weight with any other. The source of the message, not the type of messenger, is the issue. In our chapter an angel appears to Cornelius (10:3–6, 22, 30), a voice speaks to Peter (10:13–15), and the Spirit urges him to go to Caesarea (10:19–20). We recall an angel of the Lord and the Spirit directing Philip in chapter 8, and we’ll see that connection again in 16:6–7. In every case recipients of the message clearly understood they were being contacted by God and handled the message that way.[2]
1.   Can you share a Divine appointment that you have experienced?
2.   What people has God brought unexpectedly into your congregation? How did you and your church respond? Why?
3.   Are there some groups of people whom you think your church would hesitate to accept as       fully participating members? How are these people different from the majority of your membership? What causes hesitancy in accepting them?
4.   What are you doing to help your church avoid showing favortism in its efforts to witness for Christ and bring new members into his church?
[1] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 168–169.
[2] Kenneth O. Gangel, Acts, vol. 5, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 169–171.