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The Salvation of the Gentiles, pt. 2—“The Soul-Winning Servant”

Acts 10:1-16

 

Prejudice back then wasn’t white against black, but Jew against any non-Jew!

 

A searching Gentile soldier. [Cornelius]

A soul-winning gospel servant. [Peter]

A surprising Gentile salvation.

 

Cornelius is a perfect example of how religious or morally good a person can be, and still not be saved…he was a good, God-fearing, giving, praying man, and yet wasn’t saved…yet.

 

Peter is a Jew, and doesn’t care for Gentiles any more than any other Jew does!  So God has been working on him, preparing Peter for the big task of getting the gospel to regions beyond!

 

The fact that God had work to do on someone as great as Peter reminds me that none of us have arrived…God’s still working on each of us!  Peter means Rock, and he was a rock of faith, but he still had some rough edges for God to chip away at…We all have rough edges to knock off, some sinful growths to have removed.

 

Peter preached his first sermon and 3k got saved, and 5k after his 2nd sermon!  The power of God was on him in a rare and awesome way.  He’s got an incredible healing ministry going on…the power of God is on his life…so much so that sick people would lay down on the sidewalk hoping he’d walk by, because if even his shadow would pass over them they’d be healed instantly!  Back in Acts 9 he prayed for a little girl who had died, and God raised her from the dead! 

        But in spite of all this, Peter had a major vice to get victory over…he had some attitudes which needed adjusting!  And He’s Still Working on Us!  [Men, even when we’re older!] [ladies too!]

 

Thank God He is patient, and gives us time to grow, and room to grow…and we should do no less w/ our newer believers, and then focus on ourselves, for we all have much ground to plow ourselves!

        Even the Apostle Paul, who later would become perhaps the greatest Christian, Missionary, Church-Planter, Theologian of all time, said:  “I count not myself to have apprehended”=I have not arrived…!

 

Like any church, we’ve had people leave who used to be a part here, and many of them left because they made an amazing discovery…they were surprised and astonished to find that the Pastor of their church is not perfect! 

        Let me save you a lot of time—I’m not perfect!  I make mistakes…many of them.  I’d like to say I’m always the model Christian leader, but I’d be mistaken!  I still need to grow.  Thank God I have room to grow…He’s still working on me, and on you as well!

 

In Peter’s case, God had to do a radical spiritual surgery on his heart, to Roto-Rooter some rebellion, pry away some prejudice…do an arrogance angioplasty—it was “open-heart, insert love” for a lost and dying world!

 

God used two tools in this surgery:

 

1.     The Scalpel of Simon.

Acts 9:43

    And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.

10:6         He’s still there…he needed a place to stay, and God providentially worked it out to hook Peter up with this Gentile, a tanner, a taxidermist, unclean, working w/ dead animals, not kosher!  This man would have been barred from the local synagogue because of his lifestyle!

 

Ill.—NM ethnic groups:  whites minority/few blacks, many Navajo, Mexican, “Spanglish”.  There were all different subgroups, too:

Jocks, preps, hoods, “cholos”, and honkies/gringos like me!

 

Mark Duenas:  Mexican national from Colima, and yet a good guy!  He became my best friend.  [Mom made us Menudo (tripe), and Posole (puffed corn hominy!)]

        It’s wonderful how God can bring people together!  And there’s different people in this room, that if you didn’t have a common love for Christ, you couldn’t stand each other!

        You might be from a different social class, but when you come to church the ground is level!

 

Had been 14 years since we’d talked/found him/tried to witness to him back then, took to camp, church, talked/never got saved…then I learned he accepted Jesus as Savior and gave Him his heart over a decade before, married, 9 kids, serving God in good church!

 

God used the Scalpel of Simon  in this radical spiritual surgery, and He cut away at the bad tissue…then He used…

 

2.     The Forceps of Food.

v. 9-16     What’s happening here?  It’s noon, and this massive picnic spread descends from heaven!  This passage is not primarily about food, but was a heavenly illustration to help Peter make the big change.

 

As a Jew he was taught he couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t kosher…he strictly obeyed the dietary restrictions of OT Jewish law.  No pork, fish w/ skin instead of scales [no catfish, bummer!] 

        By the way, God didn’t give His people those OT laws to be difficult or to make them miserable.  Rather, those things weren’t the best for them.  Pork is difficult to digest and long term can be harmful…catfish are bottom feeders [more toxins.]  And some people today observe much of the Jewish diet, not for religious reasons, but for health reasons!

        One day Peter was up on the roof, praying.  About noon and he got hungry, and God confronted him w/ a vision.  This giant sheet has on it a smorgasbord … none of it kosher!

v. 13-14           2 things wrong with Peter’s statement:

“Not so, Lord”  those words don’t belong together.  You can say “no”, or “Lord”, but not both, together!  Had he not learned his lesson from years before when he corrected Jesus for saying he would be crucified?

 

Many here probably call Jesus Lord, but in some areas you’re also saying “no” to him.

Maybe He’s dealing w/ you about being faithful in church attendance, or that it’s time for you to take a step up to the next level…are you saying no, Lord?

Witnessing/inviting someone to church/feel called into the ministry/tithing/faith promise amount larger than you thought He’d say?

 

v. 14        “never”   8 words that will kill a church “we ain’t never done it that way before”

Marital counseling:  don’t use 100% statements like “always” and “never.” 

        Well, God is getting ready to do something new in the church, and in Peter’s life…He’ll unveil a new program that reveals that under the blood of Christ there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. 

 

May I say that if we want to see different results we sometimes have to do something different!  And there’s no room for the word “never” in that fact!

 

Insanitydef.:  doing something over and over and expecting a different result.

 

Peter has locked his thinking into a small box, and God has to do something to break him out of that!

 

Our message should never change, but our methods should!  Sometimes they HAVE to!

v. 15        These animals represent all the people that the Jews thought were unclean…all the races they looked down upon.  Peter felt superior to all those people, the Gentiles.  But God says, “They are the same in my sight!”  [that statement shattered Peter’s prejudice]

        God had already used the Scalpel of Simon to cut away at the malignant muscle, and now in one swoop he removes it completely with His divine forceps…never again should this be a problem!

 

“red, yellow, black, white…”

Here’s the truth, we all are unclean by virtue of sin!  And we all can become clean, only thru the blood of Jesus!

“whosoever will may come”  “God is no respecter of persons”

 

All should be welcome here:  every race, culture, social class!

 

God doesn’t want this to be a white church or a black church, but a people’s church!

White collar/blue collar/no collar

Rich/poor…

We have no right to ever reject those that Christ has accepted!

 

God wasn’t just changing Peter’s diet…He was changing his heart!   

        It’ll take more than just a change of mind…it has to reach your heart.

 

Mark said:  I had a book knowledge of God, I believed in Him, but it hadn’t reached my heart yet enough to believe ON Him.

        What was he saying, it had reached his head but not his heart.

Don’t you miss heaven by 18 inches!  [distance between head and heart!]

 

Not saved?  God will accept you!

Does He have your attention?  What does He have to do?  Drop down a mighty illustration from heaven?  He already has in the form of Jesus Christ coming to live and die for you!

 

Let’s get serious about our mission here on earth, locally, and around the world.  You can pray, you can give, you can go!   “Yes, Lord!”

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