Listen: 62 Question 3

Let’s begin by reading the words of the Lord Jesus to the woman of Samaria in John 4:22, “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.”  Again we see the Lord’s words in relation to the Jewish people in Matthew 10:5-6, “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  The initial purpose of the coming of the Lord to the earth was for the salvation of the nation of Israel, as we read in Matthew 1:20-21, “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  However, it was always in the plan and purpose of God that salvation be offered to all the world as we read in such verses as John 10:16 which says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”  We also see the universality of the offer of salvation in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

It was upon the rejection of the Lord by the Jewish people that salvation was offered to the Gentiles, not as proselytes into the Jewish faith, but into the church of God, as we read in Acts 2:46-47, “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”  To allow the Gentiles to be on the same ground as the Jews was very difficult for many, and this was understandable.  Since the time that the Lord chose Abraham to begin this nation that would be His earthly people, the Jews had a special connection to the Lord.

Acts, chapter 10, deals largely with a man named Cornelius.  From verse one of this chapter, we learn that Cornelius was not Jewish, he was Italian.  He was a devout man with a strong desire to know the Lord.  It has always been the Lord’s way to use redeemed men and women to tell others about the salvation that comes by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, so the Lord had Cornelius to send men to Peter to bring him to speak to him.  To prepare Peter for this occasion, the Lord gave him a wonderful vision as we read in Acts 10:9-16, “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 fourfooted 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 any 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.”  The purpose of this vision was to show Peter that what had once been called unclean has now been cleansed.  The Gentiles were now welcome to come to the Lord in faith and become the sons and daughters of God.  It seems that it took three times to convince Peter of this truth, but he was faithful and accompanied Cornelius’ men and brought words of salvation to Cornelius and his household.  Upon believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, these people received the gift of the Holy Spirit, just like the Jewish believers had.  Peter later explained to other apostles in Acts 11:17, “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”

Whenever I read this portion, my mind is drawn to think of Peter’s reaction to the Lord’s words in Acts 10:13-14, “And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.”  In his response, Peter acknowledges that God is his Lord, but at the same time, he refuses to do what the Lord told him to do.  “Not so, Lord.”  I’m reminded of the words of the Lord in Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”  Of course, Peter did eventually obey the Lord’s voice.  May we be careful to be obedient to the things we know the Lord wants us to do.  (62.3)