“What is it, Lord?”

“Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named… Peter.”Acts 10:3-5 –

One afternoon in Caesarea, an angel of the Lord appears to Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman army. Fear grips him at being in the presence of a holy servant of God. Yet he responds receptively and obediently to the angel’s news.

The angel tells Cornelius to bring a man named Peter to his home, for God wants him to hear this apostle’s message. The Lord has prepared Peter’s heart to be receptive to visiting this Gentile centurion. Although Cornelius does not know Peter, he immediately sends for him.

God sees the heart of Cornelius. He is a noble and righteous man, highly respected by the Jewish people. He and his family are God-fearing, prayerful and generous in giving to those in need. Unlike most polytheistic Gentiles, this devout centurion believes in the one true God.

Cornelius, eager to hear Peter’s words from God, gathers together all of his family and friends. His desire is to share God’s message with everyone he knows. He is perhaps the first Gentile evangelist… caring to not keep this good news to himself. When Peter arrives, the centurion tells him of the angel’s visit and the reason for this gathering…

“Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”Acts 10:33

Cornelius acknowledges that God is in their presence… a perceptive revelation for a Gentile. He recognizes that Peter is a messenger from God. Cornelius is open to receive all that this apostle will share with them. Peter meets the crowd where they are on their spiritual journey and leads them to the truth of the gospel…

“God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.” Acts 10:34-35

Peter tells the gathered people all about Jesus… His purpose, His message, His power, His miracles. He recounts how Jesus was killed, but that God raised Him to new life. Peter describes how he and many others were eyewitnesses to the risen Christ. The apostle shares the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36).

As Peter explains to the crowd that anyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of their sins, the Spirit is poured out upon them all. Once baptized with the Holy Spirit, the people begin speaking in tongues, praising God.

Peter and his fellow traveling companions are astonished that Gentiles can receive the Holy Spirit just as they have. Peter proceeds to baptize the new believers in the name of Jesus Christ. Cornelius, together with his family and friends, become the first Gentile believers in the Christian church.

“No matter how logical our arguments or how fervent our appeals, our words will accomplish nothing unless God’s Spirit prepares the way.”Billy Graham

Cornelius may have been very religious, yet he had not heard the complete story of salvation. He lacked the saving faith in Jesus Christ. God paved the way for the conversion of this centurion and his family and friends. Peter needed only to step out in obedience to the Lord’s call and share the good news of the gospel for all to be saved.

“Any method of evangelism will work if God is in it.” Leonard Ravenhill, Evangelist

We are all called to be evangelists. Peter evangelized with his words… Cornelius with his life. If our Lord goes before us and the Holy Spirit inspires us, we will be effective in sharing the good news. Our words will have the power of Christ behind them.

Telling the world about Jesus may be outside our comfort zones. Yet we can evangelize with our lives. We may not be perfect, but we can be witnesses for Christ to our world. We can live a life that glorifies God… a life of Christlikeness. Like Cornelius, we can invite others to gatherings where they will hear God’s kingdom message.

“If you had the cure to cancer, wouldn’t you share it?… You have the cure to death… get out there and share it.”Kirk Cameron

Let us reach out to others for Christ by the power of His Spirit within us. We may not see powerful results of our evangelism as Peter saw with Cornelius and his gathering. In fact, we may never see the seeds of the kingdom sprout in those with whom we share God’s message. Yet God will work in their lives when we plant the seeds.

Jesus gives His followers the Great Commission… to be His witnesses to all the world.  And He promises to go before us… moving heaven and earth to bring the gospel to any who are ready to receive it. For Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).