Beneath the Armor, Beneath the Shield: A Heart Open For the Christ & the Holy Spirit

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament book of Acts—the account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ—as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage is found in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book. “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa” (Acts 10:1-8).

 

            “ON the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: and he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten Anya thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven” (Acts 10:9-16).

 

            “Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nations of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends” (Acts 10:17-24).

 

            “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius, said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side; who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:25-33).

 

            “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaeak and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: HIM God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:34-43).

 

            “While Peter yet spake these words, the HOly Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:44-48).

 

            When you come to the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find what is another powerful transition contained within the history of the early church. In fact I would dare say that one dare not ignore and overlook the words and language that is found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here calls and draws our attention to that moment when the gospel would be preached unto Gentiles. What’s more is that not only do we encounter the truth surrounding the gospel being preached to the Gentiles but we also come face to face with the absolutely awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the Holy Spirit being given unto and poured out upon the Gentiles. Up until this point in time the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ had been preached unto the Jews alone. This of course does not include the eighth chapter where we find the first example and account of the gospel being preached unto those in Samaria. The more you read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more you will encounter it is a powerful book of transitions within the history of the early church. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found within this New Testament book and not encounter or come face to face with the fact that from the second chapter until this chapter you will find the vision of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ being preach continuing to progress. What’s more is that within this book there is a progression of the revelation and manifestation of the Holy Spirit as on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit would initially be poured out upon those in the upper room within the city of Jerusalem. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly astounding and captivating when you think about and consider just how much the landscape of the early church changes and shifts during these days from the day of Pentecost through the time when you find the apostle Peter standing before Cornelius and his entire household and perhaps even his family and friends. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for what we find in the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts would indeed set the tongue and stage for the ministry of the apostle Paul himself.

 

            If you take the time to read the words which are found in this New Testament book you can and will encounter the tremendous truth that it is a book centered around and centered upon powerful shifts and powerful transitions which took place during the history of the early church. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for if you want to truly understand the history of the early church—and not only the history of the early church but also our own history as the disciples of the Lord Jesus and part of the body of Christ—we must needs recognize and understand the wonderful history of the early church which was present in the book of Acts. There is indeed a great necessity for us as the saints of God to recognize and understand the history which is found within this book for it helps us to understand the original vision which was present within the heart and mind of the eternal and living God. We must needs remember how in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts Jesus not only declared unto His disciples and followers they would receive power after that the Holy Ghost would come upon them but He also instructed and commanded them to tarry in Jerusalem until they be endued with power from on high. What’s more is Jesus would also declare unto these disciples and followers how they would be His witnesses—first in the city of Jerusalem, and then in all Judaea, then in Samaria and ultimately unto the uttermost parts of the earth. In addition to this we find incredibly powerful language found and contained within the final chapters of the New Testament gospel narratives written by the apostle Matthew, John Mark and even the beloved physician Luke. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found within these three gospels before turning and directing our attention to the words which we see in the first chapter of this New Testament book. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the Synoptic gospels beginning with those words which are presented in the gospel of Matthew:

 

            “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).

 

            “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them w high had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In. my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen” (Mark 16:14-20).

 

            “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:43-53).

 

            It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize the words and language that is found within these three passages of Scripture for within them we encounter and come face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the mission and assignment given unto the disciples—and not only given unto the disciples but unto the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ themselves. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that the command to teach and preach all nations the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ wasn’t merely given unto the disciples themselves but it was also given unto those who had walked with and followed Jesus. What’s more is that this command and instruction was not only given to those who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus but to those whom He would personally lead out as far as Bethany where He would be taken up into heaven and received out of their sight by a cloud. What’s more is that this command would initially be fulfilled by those who were present in the upper room on the day of Pentecost when the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit would be manifested unto those who were gathered together in one accord. With this being said it’s important to recognize and understand that on the day of Pentecost—not only were the one-hundred and twenty (or so we are led to believe there were one-hundred and twenty) baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit but three thousand souls were added unto their number who were baptized after believing the word which the apostle Peter preached unto them. On the day of Pentecost we not only read of the apostle Peter preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as well as quoting the prophetic words spoken by the prophet Joel but we also find three thousand souls believing the word which he preached and being baptized on that particular day.

 

            The more I think about and consider this particular truth and how absolutely incredible it truly is the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful reality of the words which Jesus would speak unto His disciples and followers before He would ascend unto the right hand of the Father. It would be Jesus who would declare unto His disciples that they must indeed go into all nations teaching and baptizing them in the name of  the Father, in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was incredibly clear when speaking unto his disciples and followers that their mission and assignment was indeed to go therefore into all the nations teaching and baptizing them unto repentance for the remission of sins and promised that signs and wonders would follow them. In fact it is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in the final chapter of each of the synoptic gospels and not encounter this wonderful and mighty declaration spoken unto the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is something truly unique and powerful about the words which we find here within these three gospels for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the mission and assignment the disciples and followers were given prior to the ascension of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that when we read the words which are found in these three gospels we recognize that although Jesus was going to depart from this world and ascend unto the right hand of the Father the work was not finished and there would still be a word which needed to be preached. Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about the fact that Jesus was raised from death to life on the third day and would show Himself alive over a period of forty days with many infallible proofs. It would be during those days when Jesus would not only show Himself alive unto His disciples and followers but would also teach and give them instructions as to what they were called to do after His departure. This is what we find mentioned and written in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts when we not only read of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus but also read of the revelation after the resurrection, the instruction given after the days of the resurrection and ultimately the ascension of the Lord Jesus.

 

            Having said all of this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts—and not only the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts but also the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints. There is something incredibly powerful about the words and language we find concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus on the first day of the week and how over the next forty days He would not only show Himself alive unto many during that time period but He would also teach and instruct them as He would prepare them for His departure. Those forty days after His resurrection would indeed be crucial for they were not only days of revelation and manifestation as He would clearly show Himself alive but they would also be days which were filled with powerful teaching and instruction. After the Lord Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father his disciples and followers would not only have three and a half years of walking with and following Him to build upon but they would also have forty days of revelation of the resurrection as they would be witnesses unto the resurrection. Oh I am convinced it wasn’t enough to merely have walked with and followed the Lord Jesus for there was also a need to be witnesses unto the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This is something we must needs understand for when reading the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we encounter the tremendous reality that Jesus did in fact show Himself alive unto the eleven apostles but also showed Himself alive unto upwards of five hundred at one time. Over a period of forty days after He was raised from death to life Jesus would show Himself alive unto the women at the grave, unto the apostles, unto the two men whom He met while journeying on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus and ultimately unto upwards of five-hundred at one time. Having said this I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in both the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as well as the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:

 

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that He thought the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom he shewed himself alive after his passion by man infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them,  It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and IN Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:1-14).

 

            “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).

 

            I am convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for after Jesus was raised from death to life on the third day He wasn’t immediately taken up to heaven. If you read the Synoptic Gospels—and not only the Synoptic gospels but also the New Testament book of Acts—you will find it written how over a period of forty days after Jesus was raised from death to life He would show and demonstrate Himself as alive. It would have been one thing for the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to have been raised from death to life on the third day and then immediately taken up into heaven where He would sit down at the right hand of the living God. Jesus could have ascended unto the right hand of the Father immediately after being brought forth out of the grave and raised from death to life and He could have even sent the promise of the Father that same day or the day after. What Scripture demonstrates and reveals, however, is something entirely and altogether different for Jesus would remain and abide with His disciples and followers over the period of forty days before He was taken up into heaven and would sit down at the right hand of the Father. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth surrounding those forty days and how incredibly important they were. If you want to truly understand just how important those forty days were you need look no further then the second half of the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts which was written by the beloved physician Luke. It is in the second half of the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find and encounter the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth of how important it was to not only walk with and follow Jesus for those three and a half years He walked upon the earth as the Word made flesh but also were witnesses unto the resurrection of the Lord unto the right hand of the Father. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the fifteenth verse:

 

            “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the HOly Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Wherefore of these men which have accompanied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning at the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, Thou Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether or these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:15-26).

 

            Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for during those days after Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father the apostle Peter would stand up in the midst of the one-hundred and twenty who were present in the city of Jerusalem and in that place. The apostle Peter would call all of them to choose one from among them who would indeed take the place of Judas who through transgression and iniquity would forfeit his place among the apostles as witnesses unto the resurrection. The apostle Peter called upon all those who were present to choose from among them men which had not only accompanied them the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among them beginning with the baptism of John unto the day He ascended unto the right hand of the Father but would also be witnesses unto the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Oh there is something we must needs understand and acknowledge when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for not only do we encounter the tremendous reality of walking with and following Jesus from the time of the baptism of John but also that of bearing witness unto the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the grave on the third day. It wasn’t enough simply for that one who would replace Judas to have walked with and followed Jesus during those three and a half years for it was also necessary to have borne witness unto the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the grave. What’s more is that it was necessary for that one who would be chosen and ordained among them to have borne witness unto and of the ascension of the Lord Jesus unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. This is something we must needs understand when considering the mission and assignment which was given by Jesus unto His disciples and followers after He was raised from death to life on the third day as He taught them over the period of the next forty days.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the incredible truth surrounding those forty days after Jesus was raised from death to life. The Lord Jesus could have indeed risen from the grave and immediately ascended unto the right hand of the Father. It was very possible for the Lord Jesus to have been raised from death to life and immediately ascended unto the right hand of the Father without any type of revelation and manifestation of His having been raised from death to life. What’s more is it could have been very possible for the Lord Jesus to have been raised from death to life and having ascended unto the right hand of the Father without providing any instruction unto His disciples and followers during those period of forty days before He ascended unto the Father. The truth of the matter is that it was absolutely necessary for the Lord Jesus to not only show Himself alive during those forty days but also teach and instruct them concerning their mission and assignment which would be manifested in the days after He would ascend unto the right hand of the Father. It was Jesus who would indeed declare unto them the need to teach and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son and in the name of the Holy Ghost and to preach the gospel of repentance unto the remission of sins. Moreover they were to be witnesses unto the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ when on the first day of the week the stone was rolled away and He was indeed and was in fact raised from death to life. For a period of forty days after He was raised from death to life the Lord Jesus would indeed show and demonstrate Himself as alive—and not only show Himself as alive but also teach and instruct his disciples and followers those truths which they would need in the coming days after He ascended unto the right hand of the Father. The Lord Jesus would indeed be such who would teach and instruct His disciples during those days as He would prepare them for the time when He would ascend unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven.

 

            If you want to truly understand the New Testament book of Acts you must needs understand it in the context of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the revelation and witness of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave on the third day, the ascension of the Lord Jesus unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven as well as the ascension of the Lord Jesus unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. This is something we must needs understand and acknowledge for if you want to understand the coming and manifestation of the Holy Spirit—first upon the Jews, then upon the Samaritans and ultimately upon the Gentiles—you must needs understand the reality and concept of the resurrection, the revelation of the resurrection and the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am convinced that it wasn’t enough for Jesus to have been raised from death to life on the first day of the week, and to have ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven and to have sent the promise of the Holy Spirit unto those who walked with and followed Him. I am convinced that there must needs accompany the resurrection from the grave the witness and revelation of the resurrection as well as the teaching and instruction that would be needed as Jesus would prepare the disciples for that for which they would accomplish during the days after He would ascend unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. It would be during those days after He ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven the Lord Jesus would teach and instruct them as He would give them the words which they would need to carry out, accomplish and fulfill that for which they had been called unto by Him and His Father which was in heaven. For a period of forty days after His resurrection Jesus would not only show and demonstrate Himself as alive but He would also teach and instruct His disciples and followers concerning that which they needed to accomplish during the days after His departure and ascension unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the first verse:

 

            “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and In Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine”  (Acts 2:1-13).

 

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found here in the second chapter for this would be the initial outpouring of the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. It would be on this particular day when the Holy Spirit would indeed come upon all those who were present in the upper room as the sound like as a mighty rushing wind would fill the place where they were. It would be on this particular day when the sound as of a mighty rushing wind would fill the room where they were and cloven tongues of fire would rest upon each of them as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. What’s more is that it would be on this particular day the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus would speak with other tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. It would be this speaking with other tongues that would garner and secure the attention of many who were in Jerusalem at that time as there would be in Jerusalem at that time devout Jews out of every nation under heaven. It would be during this time when those from other nations would hear the wonderful works of the living God being spoken unto them in their own native tongue and language. Oh there is a great need to recognize and understand that the initial witness of the mighty and wonderful works of the living God unto the nations of the earth would first take place in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is an incredibly powerful picture of the mighty and wonderful works of the living God being proclaimed and declared unto those from every nation under heaven as those who were present in the upper room would speak with the tongues of the nations as the Spirit gave them utterance.

 

            There is a great need for us to recognize and understand this particular reality and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit would indeed be poured out upon all those who were present in the upper room. When the Holy Spirit came and was manifested unto men for the very first time it would indeed be poured out upon those who were present in the upper room. With this being said we must needs recognize and understand that on this same day—not only was the Holy Spirit poured out, not only did those present in the upper room speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, not only did those Jews from every nation under heaven hear the wonderful works of the living God being proclaimed in their own native language but many would also hear the word which the apostle Peter would preach. In fact it would be in the second and third chapter of this New Testament book we find the apostle Peter preaching the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as He would not only preach the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus but would also teach and preach the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that while the second and third chapter of this book presents us with the word and gospel of the Lord being preached in Jerusalem by the apostle Peter it is in the eighth chapter of this same New Testament book we find and encounter the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus being preached in Samaria as Philip would preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus unto all those who were in Samaria. It would be there in Samaria where Philip would not only teach and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus but also where signs and wonders would follow the preaching of the word. What’s more is that when those in Jerusalem heard that they in Samaria heard and received the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ they would send Peter and John unto them. It would be upon the arrival of Peter and John where these apostles of Christ would lay their hands on them and pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

 

            I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the second, third and eighth chapters of this New Testament book for they help set the stage for what we read in the tenth chapter of this same book. It is in the tenth chapter of this New Testament book where we don’t find the word and gospel of Jesus being preached unto the Jews, nor even being preached unto the Samaritans but now the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus was being preached unto the Gentiles as well. The New Testament book of Acts would indeed be a wonderful and powerful book of shifts and transitions from the day of Pentecost, to the time of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, to the martyrdom of Stephen, to the persecution which would break out against the early church, to the conversion of Saul, to the preaching of the word and gospel unto the Samaritans, to the Holy Spirit being poured upon the Samaritans and ultimately unto the word and gospel being preached unto the Samaritans as the Holy Spirit would also be poured out upon them. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the second, third and eighth chapters of this New Testament book of Acts concerning the preaching of the apostle Peter in Jerusalem as well as the preaching of Philip in Samaria unto those who were present here in this particular area:

 

            “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loose the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be Holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a p roper, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his souls was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-36).

 

            “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him God. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord h your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall. Ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:12-26).

 

            “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:8-12).

 

            “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unclear Ed and ignorant men, they marveled; and they knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:13-14).

 

            “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:29-32).

 

            “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecutions against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

 

            “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had be switched them with sorceries. But when the believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:5-13).

 

            “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peer said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast though that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans” (Acts 8:14-25).

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these chapters for the preaching of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus which would begin in the city of Jerusalem would eventually spread throughout all Judaea and Galilee. With this being said we also see and understand that the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus would be preached in Samaria as well. Of course we know and understand that the work which would be done in Samaria would indeed have its roots in the actual person and presence of the Lord Jesus who Himself had journeyed into Samaria as He would make His way from Judaea unto Galilee. It would be there in Samaria where He would not only speak unto a woman of living water and worship but would also emphatically declare and proclaim that He was the Messiah and the Christ. There in the midst of Samaria Jesus would declare Himself to be the Messiah—first unto this lowly woman who would come to fetch water from the well and then unto the men of the city which had come out unto Him and entreated him to tarry and abide with them. Jesus would indulge and oblige them and would remain and abide in the midst of Samaria and in the town of Sychar undoubtedly declaring Himself to be the Christ and the Messiah. Oh this is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when seeking to understand the eighth chapter of the book of Acts for here we find Philip coming down into Samaria and teaching and preaching Jesus of Nazareth. Of course at this time Philip would do more than teach and preach that Jesus was the Christ and the Messiah but he would also teach and preach the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Not only this but signs, wonders and miracles would accompany the teaching and preaching of the word which Philip preached and many of those in Samaria would hear and receive the word which he preached. It would be as a direct result of this that the apostles would send Peter and John who would come down, lay their hands on many who were in Samaria and would pray that they might receive the Holy Ghost.

 

            That which we find in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book is indeed a wonderful and powerful transition which took place during the days of the early church for it would be here where the word and gospel of Jesus would be preached unto Samaritans. What’s more is that not only would the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus be preached unto those in Samaria but the Holy Spirit would indeed be poured out upon them as they would receive and would be baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. By the time we come to the eighth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts we find the words which Jesus spoke beginning to be fulfilled as the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus would be preached by His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Galilee and now Samaria. What we find in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book is indeed a powerful signpost which would point to the fulfillment of the rest of what Jesus had taught and spoken—namely that they would be witnesses unto Him unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Of course in the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we don’t find Peter going unto the uttermost parts of the earth nor do we find Peter going unto the scattered among the Gentiles in the surrounding regions round about Judaea and Galilee. In the tenth chapter of this New Testament book we encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth surrounding the word and gospel being preached unto the Gentiles as the word would be preached unto Cornelius and his entire household. We dare not and must not miss and lose of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Peter being commanded and instructed by God to not call common or unclean that which the living and eternal God had cleansed. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that the apostle Peter would be wonderfully and mightily used by the eternal and living God to bring the preaching and teaching of the word and name of the Lord Jesus unto Gentiles who were living and dwelling in Caesarea.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I find it absolutely astounding that when the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus would be brought unto the Gentiles first it would come unto a Roman centurion who was one who feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that what we witness and experience here is not only the beginning of the preaching of the word, the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus unto Gentiles but also God’s response to those who fear Him, His response to alms which were given unto and before Him and His response to prayer. In fact if you continue reading the words which are found in this passage you will find an angel of God coming in unto Cornelius and declaring unto him that his prayers and alms were come up for a memorial before God. The angel would say nothing else about this unto Cornelius other than that his prayers and alms were come up as a memorial unto the living God. The angel did not tell Cornelius what that would mean for him or his household—only that he needed to send men to Joppa and call for one Simon whose surname was Peter for he was losing with one Simon a tanner. The angel would speak unto Cornelius and declare unto him that Simon—upon arriving at his house—would tell him what he ought to do. Immediately following this the angel of the living God would depart and Cornelius would call two of his household servants, and a devour soldier of them that waited on him continually. Cornelius would indeed send these servants and men according to the word which the angel had spoken unto him still unsure of what to make of the words which were revealed unto him. Oh I would dare say that Cornelius was still unaware of what all this would mean and what it would amount to and yet would faithfully obey the word which the angel had commanded him to do.

 

            When I read the words presented in the tenth chapter of the book of Acts I find it absolutely necessary to call to your attention the reality that at the very heart and center of it is the understanding that what God has called clean we are not to call unclean. Moreover at the very heart of this is the understanding and knowledge that what God has cleanse are in no way to call common. Within this passage of Scripture we find the living God Himself initiating the word and gospel being preached unto Cornelius and his household in response to his faithfulness in giving and prayer as well as His fear of Him. There is something truly captivating and remarkable about the words presented in this passage of Scripture as it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that the living and eternal. God would Himself initiate the word, the gospel and the name of His Son being preached unto them. It was the living God himself who sent one of His angels unto Cornelius with a very specific message—a message that his prayers and alms had come up as a memorial before Him. It would be his prayers and alms which would not only be a sweet smelling fragrance and aroma in the sight and presence of the living God but would also position him to receive something which he had perhaps not even thought he qualified for. Within the gospel narratives we find two distinct accounts of centurions as one would come unto Jesus on behalf of his servant who was lying at home sick and on the verge of death while the other would perhaps kneel at the cross with his helmet off professing and declaring that Jesus who had just died and been crucified was indeed the Son of God. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear as to whether or not the centurion who was mentioned in the New Testament book of Acts was indeed the same centurion who came to Jesus on behalf of his servant or quite possibly even the centurion who professed and declared at the cross that Jesus was the Son of the living God. What we know for sure is that this Roman centurion who wasn’t even a Jew feared God with all his house, gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always.

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs notice the extreme language that is found within this passage of Scripture for everything this centurion did was not done half-heartedly or haphazardly. Scripture clearly reveals how this centurion feared God “with all his house” and I can’t help but think about how this man ruled and governed his house the same way Joshua spoke of concerning his own house. It would be Joshua who would admonish the children of Israel to choose for themselves whom they would serve but as for he and his house they would serve the Lord. I would dare say that the same commitment, the same passion, the same faithfulness and obedience that was present within the heart of Joshua would be found in this Roman centurion. It would have been one thing if this Roman centurion himself feared God and there was no mention of his family or his household, however, that is not what we read here in this passage of Scripture. What we find and read in this passage of Scripture is that this centurion feared God together with all his house thus indicating that he was undoubtedly the spiritual head of his household. There is not a doubt in my mind that this centurion was very much like Job who would offer sacrifices for each of his children in the event they somehow transgressed the Lord and was a man who feared God and shunned evil. Oh I would dare say this Roman centurion was indeed very much similar in his nature and makeup to both Job and Joshua and ruled and governed his house according to righteousness. Here was this Roman centurion who was perhaps undoubtedly a Gentile and heathen by nature and yet he was a man who feared God together with his household. In addition to this Luke writes of this centurion that he was a devout man who gave “much” alms to the people and prayed to God “always.” 

 

            I sit here today thinking about the tremendous truth that is found in this passage of Scripture and find it absolutely wonderful how Luke would indeed set the stage and set the tone for this man and how he was not only one who was a devout man but was also one who feared God together with all his house. Cornelius was a man who gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always thus marking him as a man of prayer and giving—two distinct realities which were spoken of by Jesus when He delivered His famous Sermon on the Mount. It would have been very easy to look at this Roman centurion and seen nothing but his nationality and country of origin and citizenship. It would have been very easy to look at this Roman centurion and think and perceive that he was indeed the same as all the other centurions who were present in Judaea and Galilee during those days. One might very well have looked at this centurion and not been able to look past his armor, his sword, his shield and his helmet and seen nothing but an extension of the tyranny, authority and dominion of Rome. What we must needs recognize and understand is beneath the armor, behind the shield, and under the helmet was a man who feared God and one who was devout before Him in His sight and presence. BENEATH THE ARMOR AND BEHIND THE SHIELD! There is a truly wonderful and powerful truth that is found here in this passage of Scripture for what we find is an incredibly unique and powerful picture of a Roman centurion who might not have been able to escape who and what he was in the eyes of those around him. Those who were present in Caesarea might not have been able to look past his armor and his weapons and shield, however, if there is one thing we find about this passage of Scripture it’s that while man looks on the external and outward the living and eternal God looks at the heart. There would have been those who might very well have looked at and seen this Roman centurion and automatically associated him with Rome and with Caesar and yet known absolutely nothing about his fear of God, that he was indeed a giving man and that he was a man who prayed faithfully before the living God.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the fact that there might have been countless men and women who would have taken one look at this Roman centurion and not been able to look past who and what he was. There might very well have been men and women who would have taken one look at this Roman centurion and seen nothing but Rome and Caesar and yet by the time this chapter was over—not not would this Roman centurion be a devout man who feared God but he would be a man baptized by and filled with the Holy Spirit. Pause for a moment and consider how this would have been so incredibly counter culture and against the way those in Judaea and Galilee would have thought. Undoubtedly they were used to the Roman centurions oppressing them and would have absolutely no problem associating them with Rome, with Caesar, with the tyranny  and authority of Rome. Imagine their surprise with this Roman centurion whose name we know is Cornelius and how he was a man who feared God together with all his house and who was a devout man in the sight and presence of the living God. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that this Roman centurion was one who at some point had an encounter with the living God and perhaps even heard the words which the Lord Jesus Himself had taught and preached.

 

            If there is one thing I would absolutely love to know about this centurion named Cornelius it’s how and what led to and contributed to his fearing God, being a devout man, giving much alms to the people and praying always. Is it possible that this Roman centurion had heard the words which the Lord Jesus had indeed taught and preached during the days in which He walked among them as the Word made flesh? Scripture speaks of the Roman centurion whose servant was sick coming unto Jesus in Capernaum, however, it does not describe where this centurion actually lived. I have to admit there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if Cornelius was indeed the same centurion who came to Jesus in Capernaum on behalf of his servant who lie at home sick and on the verge of death. Scripture in no way confirms or affirms this, however, I can’t help but speculate as to whether or not the same centurion we read about in the gospels connected to his sick and dying servant was Cornelius whom we read about here in this passage of Scripture. Is it possible that this centurion who witnesses the healing and wholeness of his servant was the same centurion who we read about in this passage of Scripture who was a devout man, who feared God with his whole house, who gave much alms and who prayed to God always? What I find so absolutely amazing about this passage is it would have been easy to see this Roman centurion and even know his name and be able to see nothing more than his armor, his shield, his sword and his nationality and known absolutely nothing about his character or his heart. Remember when Samuel saw Jesse’s oldest son and thought that this was the king of Israel and how it would be during this experience the living and eternal God declared unto him that he ought not look on the external or outward appearance for man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. When we think about and consider the narrative of this Roman centurion Cornelius we must needs recognize and understand that beneath the armor and behind the shield was a man who feared God and who was a man of giving and prayer. What’s more is by the time this chapter concludes we find this Roman centurion who was not only a devout man who feared God and was a man of giving and prayer but he would also be a man filled with and baptized by the Holy Spirit.

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the fact that we dare not and must not judge others based on external and outward appearances. It is very easy to take a look at others and base our opinions and thoughts of them solely on what we see on the exterior and yet the truth of the matter is that while man does in fact look at the outward appearance it is God who looks at the heart. What’s more is that it would have been very easy to look at the Pharisees and the scribes and think of and perceive them as being righteous and look at this Roman centurion and assume that he was a sinner. Imagine the surprise many would and could experience when they realized that the Pharisees and scribes they thought were righteous only appeared to be righteous on the outward and external and yet were nothing more than self-righteous sinners who were guilty of hypocrisy and legalism in the sight of the living God. Not only this but imagine learning that those you thought were righteous in the sight of God based on their outward appearance and even how they prayed in the Temple speaking of themselves as fasting, and tithing, and giving and even praying and yet discovering that they were nothing but a sinner in the sight of the living God. The parable of the Pharisee and the publican is one that shines an incredible amount of light on to the incredible reality surrounding the contrast between those we think and perceive as being righteous and those we would perceive as being sinners and how there are times when our perception and opinion is indeed not in alignment with heaven. Oh I am absolutely convinced that if you want to truly understand the narrative of the Roman centurion named Cornelius you must needs consider the words which are found in the twenty-third chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew concerning the scribes and the Pharisees as well as the words which were written in the New Testament gospel of Luke which describe Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the publican. I leave you with the words which are found within these two chapters as they help us to confront our own judgments and how more often than not we allow ourselves to judge based on outward and external appearances. I also leave you with the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James:

 

            “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall e salt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows’ houses, and for a presence make long prayer: therefore ye hall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:1-15).

 

            “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto scribe and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto white sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell” (Matthew 23:23-33).

 

            “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

 

I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous truth surrounding that which was beneath the armor and behind the shield for while there would be many who would look upon this centurion and see nothing but a soldier of Rome and perhaps even a heathen and Gentile there would be many who would be unable to see what was beneath the surface. There would be many who would undoubtedly take a look at this centurion and have absolutely no clue that he was a devout man who feared God and was a man of much prayer and giving. What’s more is that after the apostle Peter would come unto his house he would be a man who was filled with and baptized by the Holy Spirit. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the reality of how men and women would look upon this centurion and see nothing more than a heathen and Gentile with armor, a sword and shield and knew absolutely nothing about him being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. This Roman centurion would be one who would indeed be baptized by and filled with the Holy Spirit which is indeed something we must needs recognize and understand when reading this particular chapter. No longer was the promise of the Holy Spirit for the Jews only as the Samaritans would themselves receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now in Caesarea we find the word and name of Jesus being preached to the Gentiles and their being baptized by and filled with the Holy Spirit. Oh how absolutely wonderful this truly is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and how He would indeed pour out His Spirit upon all nations as was evidenced on the day of Pentecost. The fact that those in the upper room spoke with the tongues of the nations was in and of itself a powerful witness and a sign that the Holy Spirit came to speak to the nations and not just the Jews. What we find here in this passage is the beginning of the Holy Spirit actually being poured out upon the Gentiles and upon those whom many Jews did and would not think would actually receive this gift. Oh that we would indeed read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and come face to face with the incredible truth that the gift of the Holy Spirit is for all who call upon the name of the Lord and all who believe in Jesus of Nazareth and are baptized in His name unto repentance for the remission of sins.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s