Tag Archives: Cornelius

Through the Bible, September 5

Reading: Acts 9-10

Summary: Saul of Tarsus rises to prominence among the Jews as a persecutor of Christians.  God intervenes in this zealous Pharisee’s life and brings about a dramatic conversion.  That event, along with the resurrection itself, serves as the greatest evidence for the validity of Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son.  That this event is recounted three times in Acts (chapters 9, 22, 26) bears witness to its vast importance.

Also of monumental import is the gospel being taken to the Gentiles.  This major shift also required God’s intervention to not only direct Cornelius’ actions, but also change Peter’s own attitudes and feelings.

Devotional Thought:

Two Conversions Considered

All conversions are not the same, but then again they are.  Is the stereotypical conversion one of a person who previously lived in rebellious defiance of God changing and now serving God in all humility?  That’s true of some conversions, but not all.  They are not all about a person changing from being bad to being good.

Think about Saul of Tarsus.  Here was a man zealously devoted to serving God in the way he thought he should.  How sadly and tragically mistaken he was.  His conversion included a radically changed understanding of God’s will and God’s people.  His zeal and fervor needed redirecting.

Think about Cornelius. This man is quite admirable even before his conversion.  He’s a devout, benevolent, God-fearing man.  Still, conversion was needed.

Neither of these men needed convinced to believe in God, to quit unrighteous living, or seek religion. Their greatest need was a changed relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  That change was affected by their immersion into Christ (Acts 9:18; 10:48).

Not all men need radical transformation in their lives and conduct, but all do need a critical change in their standing with God.

My Delight is the Lord, November 19

Personal Piety Fails

November 19, Saturday: God’s Story (2)

Scripture Reading: Acts 10:1-11:18

Imagine an angel telling you that God has taken notice of how good you are. Wow!  He honors your religious activity and your generous service to others. That is mighty high praise and is exactly what Cornelius received (vv. 1-4). But that is not where this story ends. As this centurion later recounted this conversation, he was instructed to send for Peter who would explain the Lord’s command (v. 33). Get this: Cornelius’ personal piety was not sufficient to be right with God. God liked that in this man, but He wanted from him what He wants from us all–as Peter would explain–that we would fear God and do what is right (v. 35). As Jesus Himself said it, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21).

Questions to Ponder:

  • How is Cornelius described? (10:2)
  • What is similar about Saul’s and Cornelius’ experience?
  • Was Cornelius already aware of Jesus? (10:36-38)
  • To what do the prophets bear witness? (10:43)

The Joy of God’s Presence, November 17

November 17, Tuesday: Bible Story (1)

Scripture Reading—Acts 10:1-11:18

Cornelius was a good man; actually, better than most–and God knew it. We don’t need anecdotal validation, an angel himself told this Gentile soldier that both his prayers and his benevolent gifts “have ascended as a memorial before God” (v. 4). That is nothing short of astounding. Heaven had taken notice of this devout, God-fearing man (v. 2). The point of the angelic visit was not to say, “Great job. You’re good to go.” It was to point Cornelius in the direction of what was yet lacking spiritually. Like anyone else, he could not be saved “by works done…in righteousness” (Titus 3:5). Human goodness is insufficient for right standing with God. Let that sink in. Right standing comes only on the terms God has established through Jesus. Cornelius needed Jesus. As pious and giving as he was, he was nothing apart from Christ. Neither are we.

Questions to Ponder:

  •  Did Peter initially understand the vision he saw? (10:17)
  • What did Cornelius anticipate to hear from Peter? (10:33)
  • Whom does Peter say is acceptable to God? (10:35)
  • For what was Peter criticized? (11:3)

A Good Heart or a Clean Heart?

Devotional Text: Acts 15:9

The condition of one’s heart is of extreme importance.  Yes that is true literally and physically, but we’re talking figuratively and spiritually.

A frequently spoken, well-meaning and kind pleasantry is that a person has a “good” heart.  That’s better than a bad one for sure.  It’s rather ambiguous, though, isn’t it?  Is this merely a pleasant person?  a well-intentioned, nice, and otherwise innocuous kind of a person?  Good-hearted is hard to nail down.

When the controversy about Gentiles becoming Christians came under discussion in Jerusalem, Peter observed that God “made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).  Such was also David’s desire when his pled, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psa. 51:10).

Sincerity does not cleanse a heart.  Neither does good intentions or fervent desires.  Those may make a heart good; one that would not hurt or harm and one that would favor what’s good and right.  But hearts must be cleansed.

Peter says that for the Gentiles—no doubt thinking of Cornelius and his household, see Acts 10—that cleansing happened by faith.  That’s consistent with other Scriptures.  God is both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).  Salvation is “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2:8).

Cornelius’s heart wasn’t cleansed by his pious, benevolent life, nor by the coming of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.  It was only by faith; his “faith in the powerful working of God” as he was baptized into Christ, making his appeal to God for a good conscience (Col. 2:12; Acts 10:48; 1 Pet. 3:21).

Is my heart clean or just good?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

The Trouble With Changing Your Mind

Devotional Text: Acts 11:18

When is the last time you embraced as being true, something you previously had denied and even vehemently opposed?  Been a while?  It’s just not an easy thing to allow previously held truths to be overturned and set aside.  Most of us are just stubborn and prideful enough that clear evidence can be easily overpowered by our long-held prejudices.

When Peter returned to Jerusalem from converting the household of Cornelius, news of the event beat him home.  And, he was predictably challenged by his Jewish brethren about what he had done.  That should be no surprise.  Remember that Peter’s own change of heart and attitude had required divine intervention (see Acts 10:9-16).

Peter laid it all out for them; from his vision, to the visitors from Caesarea, to the Holy Spirit falling on Cornelius and his household (Acts 11:4-17).  Luke records, “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’” (Acts 11:18).

I’d like to think I would have been like these Jerusalem Christians and believed and accepted this new truth and reality (it was brand new to them).  Obviously, not all the Jewish brethren were (see Acts 15).  This issue became a major thorn in Paul’s side in regard to his evangelistic work as is evidenced by the amount of ink he devoted to it in his letters.

But notice this progression.  These people expressed their concerns and misgivings to Peter when he arrived in Jerusalem.  They allowed Peter ample opportunity to explain himself.  Being confronted with this truth, they accepted the reality.  They then “fell silent” and glorified God.

That’s how it’s supposed to work; often it does not.

How willing am I, when a long held belief or understanding is challenged, to set aside my prejudices and assumptions and to seriously consider it as honestly and objectively as possible?  And if the evidence demands it, to turn loose of the old and embrace the new?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Two Conversions Considered

Devotional Text: Acts 9:18; 10:48

All conversions are not the same, but then again they are.  Is the stereotypical conversion one of a person who previously lived in rebellious defiance of God changing and now serving God in all humility?  That’s true of some conversions, but not all.  They are not all about a person changing from being bad to being good.

Think about Saul of Tarsus.  Here was a man zealously devoted to serving God in the way he thought he should.  How sadly and tragically mistaken he was.  His conversion included a radically changed understanding of God’s will and God’s people.  His zeal and fervor needed redirecting.

Think about Cornelius. This man is quite admirable even before his conversion.  He’s a devout, benevolent, God-fearing man.  Still conversion was needed.

Neither of these men needed convinced to believe in God, to quit unrighteous living, or seek religion. Their greatest need was a changed relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  That change was affected by their immersion into Christ (Acts 9:18; 10:48).

Not all men need radical transformation in their lives and conduct, but all do need a critical change in their standing with God.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

September 5 Bible Reading: Acts 9-10

Saul of Tarsus rises to prominence among the Jews as a persecutor of Christians.  God intervenes in this zealous Pharisee’s life and brings about a dramatic conversion.  That event, along with the resurrection itself, serve as the greatest evidence for the validity of Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son.  That this event is recounted three times in Acts (chapters 9, 22, 26) bears witness to its vast importance.

Also of monumental import is the gospel being taken to the Gentiles.  This major shift also required God’s intervention to not only direct Cornelius’ actions, but also change Peter’s own attitudes and feelings.

For today’s daily devotional CLICK HERE

For September week 1 Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

For September Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Two Conversions Conidered

Devotional Text: Acts 9:18; 10:48

All conversions are not the same, but then again they are.  Is the stereotypical conversion one of a person who previously lived in rebellious defiance of God changing and now serving God in all humility?  That’s true of some conversions, but not all.  They are not all about a person changing from being bad to being good.

Think about Saul of Tarsus.  Here was a man zealously devoted to serving God in the way he thought he should.  How sadly and tragically mistaken he was.  His conversion included a radically changed understanding of God’s will and God’s people.  His zeal and fervor needed redirecting.

Think about Cornelius. This man is quite admirable even before his conversion.  He’s a devout, benevolent, God-fearing man.  Still conversion was needed.

Neither of these men needed convinced to believe in God, to quit unrighteous living, or seek religion. Their greatest need was a changed relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  That change was affected by their immersion into Christ (Acts 9:18; 10:48).

Not all men need radical transformation in their lives and conduct, but all do need a critical change in their standing with God.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE