Wednesday, August 18, 2010
simple gospel, simple faith, elegant beauty
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Peter has literally been led by God to the home of a God-fearing gentile centurion in Caesarea. There, in a gentile home, in a predominantly gentile city, Peter's Jewish prejudices have been stripped away and the gospel is all that remains. It is clear to him that Jesus' command to preach to everyone includes non-Jews. He is obeying the Lord's command by telling Cornelius about the Lord's command!
What He tells those assembled there is what still comprises the gospel today. Christians preach (proclaim) it and back it up with their own experience (testify) as they help others come to an understanding of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. The elements of it are straightforward: 1) Jesus was appointed by God as the judge of the living and the dead. This is the outcome of Lordship at its must essential. All people will give an account of themselves to Jesus Christ. 2) The scriptures (both Old and New Testament) teach this clearly. One can demonstrate through the biblical texts that Jesus accomplished what God had sent Him to do. 3) People must believe the gospel by faith in order to receive forgiveness of sin through Christ. The element of faith, the object of faith, and the exercise of faith is necessary for salvation. It is not what I do, but what I believe about what Jesus has done that results in forgiveness of sins and salvation.
The impact in this story was profound. As soon as these gentiles turned by faith to Christ, God evidenced it to Peter and the Jews with him by pouring out His Holy Spirit on the gentiles. It was clear that they had the same life-changing relationship with Jesus that all believers had. There was no reason not to accept them into the Body of Christ. Peter immediately suggested that they be baptized. A new era in God's work starts in the house of a soldier in Caesarea. From this point on, the gospel begins to move into the world, one people group at a time.
I enjoy this simple look at the elegance of the gospel. It is not complicated. It is direct. It appeals to the deepest of human needs, but requires no forms, no disclaimers, no layers of complicated efforts. Faith believes that Jesus is Lord and has accomplished the forgiveness of my sins. And that faith launches out in obedience to the Lord in a life that is dramatically changed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I can think of nothing more beautiful, more emotional, more powerful, or more amazing to be a part of than this!
- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.