How Can I Help?
Peter had travelled the 30 miles from Joppa to Caesarea along the coast road with a few Jewish friends who believed in Jesus, and an escort sent by the centurion, Cornelius. The house was packed with people who the soldier had invited, expecting the apostle to tell them what God wanted them to hear. So Peter humbly asked, "Why have you sent for me?" (Acts 10:29)
Then Cornelius told the story of his vision, repeating the words the angelic messenger spoke to him. He was assured that his generous giving to the poor, and his prayers, were known to God; but he was not told that any of those good things would gain him entry to God's kingdom. Instead he was instructed to send his servants to find Peter in Joppa, giving his precise address, and then bring him back to Cornelius' house.
The men found the apostle at the tanner's house by the sea. That alone was a great confirmation that the vision had come from God (Acts 10:7-8). The fact that Peter was willing to come to a Gentile's home was another miracle: God had been preparing him too (Acts 10:9-20). Then Cornelius announced that they had all come to hear God's Word from Peter: and they felt that God was with them. The centurion, who understood authority, recognised that Peter was under God's authority and that he would only tell the people what the Lord had instructed him to tell them.
Cornelius' had faith like another (or even the same) centurion who asked Jesus for help (Matthew 8:5-13). Obeying the vision and inviting his friends took courageous faith. He knew that he could never be acceptable to God just by his good deeds: he needed to know more. God told him to seek through hearing the words of the gospel. Hebrews 11:6 says, "… without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." But seeking needs an object to seek: the angel had the answer – ask a messenger of the gospel. Too many people are floundering in guilty hopes, thinking that they have to do more to please God. They need to be told the gospel. That is our privilege - to be able to explain why we love Jesus (1 Peter 3:15), and to lead others to Him too (Romans 10:14).
© Dr Paul Adams