Called to Be Inclusive

Key Verse: “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.”
—Acts 10:34-35

Selected Scripture:
Acts 10:30-39, 44-48

WHEN JESUS WAS UPON earth, he told his disciples to preach only to the Jews. He said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, … But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10:5-6) The reason for this instruction was that Israel had been in covenant relationship with God since the days of Moses, and they were the only nation that God dealt with directly. To Israel applied the words, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) Because of this, it was proper that the Jews be given the first opportunity to accept Jesus, the Messiah. Although there were many individuals who accepted him, as a nation Israel rejected Jesus, putting him to death on the cross. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”—John 1:11

Three and a half years after Jesus death and resurrection, Israel’s exclusive favor of 490 years—as prophesied in Daniel 9:24-27—had come to an end, and the time had come for the Gospel to become inclusive of not just Jews, but also Gentiles. Cornelius, a Gentile centurion who was devout and who feared God, had been praying in his house, when an angel appeared to him. The angel instructed him to send for Peter. Cornelius did as the angel said, and soon Peter arrived at Caesarea, where Cornelius lived. Peter already knew what was to be done, because of a vision he had just prior to being found by Cornelius’ messengers. In that vision (see Acts 10:9-24) God showed Peter that all men, Jews and Gentiles, would have an equal opportunity to come into covenant relationship with him. This would not be through the Mosaic Law arrangement instituted many centuries before, but through the precious blood of Jesus. This blood, shed on behalf of fallen Adam, was efficacious to all, regardless of their nationality, because all were “in Adam,” (I Cor. 15:22) and could be cleansed.

As Peter was speaking with Cornelius, he 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… 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 quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”—Acts 10:34-35,42-43

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his entire household. Those of the Jews who had traveled with Peter were astonished. They had not yet realized what Peter knew, that Jesus had died a ransom ‘for all,’ not for just the Israelites, and that all redeemed had an equal opportunity, through faith rather than through the ceremonies of the Law, to come under God’s special favor.

After receiving the Holy Spirit they publicly demonstrated their faith in the shed blood of Jesus by being baptized (immersed) in water. This was a symbol of the consecration that had already taken place in their hearts. Now they were “baptized into Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 6:3) and were of the “household of God.”—Eph. 2:19

Dawn Bible Students Association
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