Church Empowered – Message 10
November 22, 2020
I. Introduction: We continue survey of Acts in series, Church Empowered.
A. Today’s message in entitled, No Favoritism.
- Theme verse: Acts 10:34 (NLT)—Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.” [He doesn’t prefer any person above others.]
- We are equal in His eyes—regardless of differences in our race, background, financial status or social standing—He sees us the same; His opinion is the only one that matters.
- Our equality before God is dramatically demonstrated through the Lord’s Supper.
B. Lord’s Supper
- UNITY:1 Corinthians 10:16–17 (NLT)—16When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread [share in the one sacrifice of Christ], showing that we are one body.
- BREAD [Open the cellophane.]: 1 Corinthians 11:23–24 (NLT)—23For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord Himself. On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me.” [EAT]
- CUP [Open top.]: 1 Corinthians 11:25–26 (NLT)—25In the same way, He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood. Do this to remember Me as often as you drink it.” [DRINK] 26For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
- We are one—joined together in the death and resurrection of Jesus—but the church did not start that way—and some people may not feel that way!
- In the beginning, the church was in danger of remaining only a small sect of Judaism.
- The barrier between Jews and Samaritans was broken through the ministries of Philip, Peter and John, when many Samaritan believed and received the Holy Spirit. [Acts 8]
- The hatred Jews harbored for Gentiles was far greater than their dislike of Samaritans.
- The time had come to reconcile Jews and Gentiles (referred to as the uncircumcised).
- It’s time for us to truly see ourselves as one, unified, harmonious, in Christ as well.
II. Evidence of our equality: (Acts 10:1-48)
All of us…
A. #1 - Require God’s intervention. (Acts 10:1-8; C/R: Romans 5:6-8; Ephesians 2:1-5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:4-5)
- Acts 10:1-8 (NLT)— 1 In Caesarea [Roman capital of Judea, coastal city with large military base] there lived a Roman army officer named Cornelius, who was a captain of the Italian Regiment. [centurion = commander of 100 soldiers] 2He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household. [He had abandoned his pagan religion, worshipped Jehovah God, and led others to, but had not become a full proselyte (convert) to Judaism through circumcision.]. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God. [Evidenced his sincere devotion.] 3One afternoon about three o’clock [Jewish time of prayer], he had a vision in which he saw an angel of God coming toward him. “Cornelius!” the angel said. [God sent an angel to guide him.]
4Cornelius stared at him in terror. “What is it, sir?” he asked the angel.
And the angel replied, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! [God accepted these efforts, but he was not saved through them.] 5Now send some men to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. 6He is staying with Simon, a tanner [a trade detested by devout Jews] who lives near the seashore.”
7As soon as the angel was gone, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of his personal attendants. 8He told them what had happened and sent them off to Joppa.
- We are not, cannot, be saved through merely human means; God calls us, as He was calling Cornelius, but He also provides what we need to come into full faith and belief.
- This angel sent by God directed Cornelius to send for the person who would teach him about the Savior—Peter—and He would also be working in Peter at the same time.
- Every one of us, without exception, needs God’s supernatural intervention to be saved.
- APP.: Is God drawing you to faith? Is He sending you to share your faith with someone?
Another evidence of our equality is that we all…
B. #2 - Reflect the image of God. (Acts 10:9-33; C/R: Genesis 1:27; 9:6; Leviticus 20:25-26; Psalm 139:13; James 3:7-9)
- Acts 10:9-16 (NLT)—9The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, 10and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. 12In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. [both clean and unclean; Leviticus 11] 13Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”
14“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.” [Dietary restrictions separated Israel from idolatrous neighbors, identified them as different, prevented social interactions; Leviticus 20:25-26]
15But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean. [animals or people]” 16The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven. … [God exposing Peter’s attitude toward Gentiles.]
- This vision signified abolishing the Old Testament dietary restrictions, but also symbolized bringing the Gentiles and the Jews together by faith into one church.
- Acts 10:19-20, 22-33 (NLT)—19Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three men have come looking for you. 20Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them.” …
22They said, “We were sent by Cornelius, a Roman officer. He is a devout and God-fearing man, well respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to summon you to his house so that he can hear your message.” 23So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. [Surprising, Jews would not give lodging to Gentiles.] The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa. [six of them; Acts 11:12]
24They arrived in Caesarea the following day. Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. [Not ashamed!] 25As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!” [Significant statement!] 27So they talked together and went inside, where many others were assembled. [Cornelius was led by God to bring larger group to listen to Peter, which would prove to be important.]
28Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. [Peter says what he’s thinking.] 29So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me.”
30Cornelius replied, … 33 “So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”
- As Peter asserted, all people are the same, not merely human, but wonderfully human, bearing the image, the likeness, of God; so all have value, are worthy of dignity.
- God formed each of us within our mothers, fashioning us according to His will, for His purpose; we are precious in His sight! He has made no mistakes! (Psalm 139:13)
- APP.: Do you respect and appreciate people with superficial differences? (A faith issue.)
A third evidence of our equality is that all of us are…
C. #3 - Redeemed through the gospel. (Acts 10:34-43; C/R: Romans 1:16; 3:23; Ephesians 2:14; 3:6-10)
- Acts 10:34-36 (NLT)—34Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35In every nation He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right. [Not salvation by works; instead, accepting the Spirit’s work in any, every, sinner.] 36This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel [first]—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. …” [Peter then told about Jesus’ ministry.]
- God responds to whomever desires to know and obey Him, which is evidence of Spirit’s preparation; Cornelius and these Gentiles were divinely prepared to hear and believe.
- Acts 10:39b-43 (NLT)—39b“…They put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross, 40but God raised Him to life on the third day. Then God allowed Him to appear, 41not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be His witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.” 42And He ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. 43He is the one all the prophets testified about [Isaiah 53:11; Jerimiah 31:34; Zechariah 13:1], saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.” [Salvation has always been by faith, never law.]
- All of us are saved the same way—by trusting in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins; we SHARE in Jesus’ sacrifice, He removed the separation.
- Because of God’s love, Jesus died once for all of us, none of us required less than the death of God’s Son to be cleansed of unrighteousness, to be made right in God’s eyes.
- APP.: Do you understand it required the same sacrifice to forgive your sins as for others?
A final evidence of our equality is that all of us must be…
D. #4 - Regenerated by the Spirit. (Acts 10:44-48; C/R: Acts 15:8; Romans 8:9,11,16; 1 Corinthians 12:13)
- Acts 10:44-46a (NLT)—44Even as Peter was saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. 45The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles, too. 46aFor they heard them speaking in other tongues and praising God.
- Without the text saying so, it appears that when Cornelius and the other Gentiles heard forgiveness was available through Jesus Christ, they were born again and believed.
- The Spirit fell on these Gentiles, evidenced by speaking in tongues and worship!
- The six believers with Peter were astonished that the Gentiles were saved and received the Spirit, proving that they were accepted by God in the same way that Jews were.
- Acts 10:46b-48 (NLT)— 46b Then Peter asked, 47“Can anyone object to their being baptized, now that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?” 48So he gave orders for them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. [The Jewish believers acted on their acceptance of Gentiles as believers.] Afterward Cornelius asked him to stay with them for several days. [For fellowship and instruction, evidence of saving faith.]
- APP.: How do you display your belief that ALL are equal by faith because God shows no favoritism?
Ephesians 2:14 (NLT)—For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. [memory verse]
Spiritual practice: Who do you spend time with who’s different from you? (Ex.: beliefs, background, stage in life, race, etc.). Ask God to show you whoHe wants you to share the good news of Jesus with.