Repentance unto Life

by LA UBF   05/08/2010     0 reads



God Has Granted even the Gentiles Repentance unto Life

Acts 10:23b-11:30

Key Verse 11:18

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."

Read 10:23b-33. What do Cornelius' actions show about him (see verses 24-25; 33)? What evidence do we find here that Peter had sincerely changed his attitude toward the Gentiles (see verses 26-29)? What role did God play in this meeting (see verses 28b and 30-32)?

Read 10:34-43. What did Peter realize about God? What are the key points of Peter's message? What can we learn here about what it takes to be a witness of Jesus?

Read 10:44-48. How did God remove all doubt from the "circumcised believers" about his acceptance of the Gentiles? What does this event show about the work of salvation?

 Read 11:1-18. What was the first response of the circumcised believers in Jerusalem to the news that the Gentiles had received the word of God (see verses 1-3)? How did Peter answer this criticism (verses 4-17)? What happened when the believers in Jerusalem heard the full story of God's work among the Gentiles? What do you think the significance of this event is in Christian history?

Read 11:19-22. How did the good news about Jesus spread to the Greeks (verses 19-20)? How did God support this work (verse 21)? How did the church at Jerusalem respond when they heard this news (verse 22)? How did Cornelius' conversion pave the way for this work?

Read 11:23-30. Why was Barnabas a good choice for strengthening the young Antioch church? How did Saul come into the picture? How did the Gentile churches help the believers in Judea?




Repentance Unto Life

Acts 10:23-11:30

Key verse 11:18

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

In this passage, we see how God arranged a special meeting between Peter and Cornelius. God wanted to save Cornelius and his family. God also wanted to show Peter and the church in Jerusalem that his grace was for all people--both Jews and Gentiles.

We can divide this passage into three parts. First, Cornelus hears the gospel and is baptized. Second, Peter explains what happened to the church in Jerusalem. Third, the establishment of the church in Antioch.

Let's look at how God poured out his grace on Corneleus and his family. Last week, we saw how God used a dream to help Peter open his heart to the Gentiles. Beginning in verse 25, we see what happened when Peter arrived at Cornelius' house.

The first thing that Cornelius did when he saw Peter was fall at his feet in reverence. This is remarkable because he was a Roman centurion. He was a man of power. Other people were supposed to bow down to honor him. Cornelius' actions show that he regarded Peter as an ambassador of Christ.

Peter's response is also interesting. He made Cornelius get up and said, "Stand up. I am only a man myself." In saying this, Peter put himself on the same level as Cornelus, a Gentile.

Inside Cornelus' house, Peter found a large gathering of people. Cornelius had no thought of keeping his faith a secret; he wanted everyone he knew to share in God's grace. Peter explained how God had shown him that he should not call any man impure or unclean, and he asked why Cornelius sent for him.

Corenlius then explained how a man in shining clothes stood before him as he was praying. The man said to Cornelus, "God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea." Then Cornelius said to Peter, "Now we

are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."

When Peter heard this,he said, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."

In verses 34-43 Peter spoke the good news of live through Jesus Christ.

In verse 38, Peter told how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power, and how Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil.

In verse 39, Peter tells how Jesus was killed by crucifixion.

And in verse 40, Peter says, "but God raised him from the dad on the third day and caused him to be seen." Peter was one of the eye-witnesses of these things. Jesus commanded Peter and the other apostles to preach to the people and to testify that Jesus is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.

And the conclusion is in verse 43: "All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through is name."

Peter's message was clear and powerful, but even more powerful waswhat God did -- the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message, even while Peter was speaking. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been ported out even on the Gentiles. And Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."

Through this event, we can see that God will go to extraordinary means to pour out his grace on those who fear him and do what is right. Through Cornelius was a Gentile, God loved him. God heard his prayers, and God arranged a special meeting with his top apostle. By God's amazing grace, Cornelius and his whole household found life in Jesus'


Here we see God's heart. He is looking for anyone whose heart is ready to accept the gospel message and be saved. Whenever he locates such a person, he dispatches his servants, such as Peter, to bring the message.

Praise God for his love and grace. I can testify that God sent his servants to me when I was hungry to know God and grow as a disciple of Jesus. In my first semester of college, I thought to myself, "I wonder if there are any Christian groups on campus; maybe I could join a Bible study." I didn't see any groups, but God sent a missionary to invite me to an in-depth Bible study, which was exactly what I wanted, and thorugh this I receive much grace from God.  I can testify that God is working today, as he did for Cornelus, to bring the good news of Jesus to everyone whom he has prepared. Like Peter, then, we must be ready to go where God sends us and speak to those whom God has told us to speak to.

Now let's look at what happened in Jerusalem after this. In 11:1-2, we see that Peter was critized for associating with Gentiles. This criticism could have been very painful for Peter. Someone in Peter's situation could easily become angry and the situation could have escalated into a lasting division.

From time to time, we face situations like this; and if we are not careful, we could let misunderstandings escalate into damaging conflicts. Peter, however, sets a great example here. In verses 4-17, Peter carefully explains all that happened. He did not make theological arguments, but he simply clarified for everyone what God had done, and Peter's conclusion in verse 17: "So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God."

Peter's answer shows how he humbled himself before God and men. He did not claim that anything that happened was the result of his work or authority or wisdom. It was all God's work. Peter's answer was that he was simply following God.

And how did they respond? Look at verse 18: "When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.’ " The situation was completely resolved without even a hint of damage or negative feelings. Instead, everyone praised God.

This shows us something powerful: when we focus on the work that God is doing, the natural conclusion is to give Him praise. What work is God doing? He is doing the work of granting repentance unto life. A couple weeks ago, four young disciples of Jesus were baptized. Praise God who is working among us to grant repentance unto life! When we focus on what God had done and is doing, praise will fill our hearts, because God's work is life-giving.

Now, let's look at the final part of the passage we are covering today. In verses 19-30, we see how the church in Antioch was established. This church was probably the first Greek church, and this church would become the home base for the evangelization of the Greek and Roman world.

How was this church formed? Verses 19-20 show that those believers who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled to new place, but they only told the message to Jews. A few believers who went to Antioch, however, started talking to the Greeks also about Jesus. Why did they do this? The passage doesn't say, but I think the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts with concern for the Greeks around them that they couldn't help telling them about it. Theologically, I don't know if they had things figured out all the way, but they shared the good news anyway. What happened? Verse 21 says, "The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord."

Verse 22 says that when the news of this reached the church in Jeursalem, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. It seems to me likely that this event happened after the church heard of how God saved Cornelius. I believe they sent Barnabas to build up the church in Antioch. Why Barnabas? Because he was an encourager. Young believers need a lot of encouragement. Barnabas encouraged them to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. How could Barnabas be such an encourager? Verse 24 says, "He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith..."

Not only was Barnabas an encourager, he was also humble. He knew that the young disciples needed to grow through deep Bible study, and Barnabas knew that the best Bible teacher for them would be Saul. So he went to Tarsus and found Saul and brought him back, and tougher Paul and Barnabas met with the church in Antioch and taught great numbers of people.

Barnabas and Saul built the church in Antioch through the powerful one-two punch of encouragement and deep Bible study. The church grew so well that the non-believers began calling the disciples in Antioch "Christians," which basically means "Christ people."

In verses 27-30, we see that the disciples in Antioch made a special relief offering for the church in Judea. This shows how they grew up and became mature so that they could even be a source of blessing to other believers--even to the headquarters in Jerusalem.

In conclusion, through this passage, we see how much God is willing to do to bring life through Jesus' name to all people who are ready to accept it. In love, God arranged a special meeting between Peter and Cornelius. God opened he hearts of the believers to see that God loves Gentiles, too, and that repentance unto life is for everyone. Because of God's love and mercy, many Greeks in Antioch could leave behind their idolatrous and wicked ways and find life through faith in Jesus.

In the same way, God is working powerfully among us to bring salvation to everyone who is ready to receive it. May God help us to see this work and give him praise. May God also use us like Peter and like Barnabas and Paul and the believers who began talking to the Greeks--may God use us in his work.