An Outward Symbol of an Inner Reality (Acts 10-12)


Quite a few things jumped out at me in the passage we are reading this morning. I’ll keep it limited to three theological observations/ applications for the sake of brevity. First, we see the first mission Paul is entrusted with by the church is to send relief to the church in Jerusalem (11:27-30, 12:25). It is interesting to note that where the gospel started, becomes the place of greatest need. We practice missions in quite a different way these days. Generally a church sends missionaries and money out to the mission field. Here the off shoot of the church in Jerusalem was sending money back to aid those in Jerusalem. It speaks of Jerusalem’s great need as well as the Antioch church’s great love for their fellow believers. Too often in church life we imagine a competition between one another for nickels and noses, yet these churches saw it as their obligation to help one another even to the point of sending people and resources.

The second observation is to note that these events while read swiftly on a page actually occurred over years. We are reading a highlight of the decades that span the infancy of the early church. We know that Paul didn’t start his missionary work right away but spent years in Tarsus and Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). We also note when Peter was set free from prison at the time of the Passover (Acts 12:3-4), which is the same time of year/ festival where Jesus was murdered and rose from the dead, so we know that well over a year has passed between all of these events. Sometimes we can develop apathy towards certain things because it doesn’t seem like God is moving or even moving fast enough. Patience is the word of the day as we note that God moves in his own time. Sometimes it is explosive, but often times it’s slow. What we see recorded in Acts are the highlights of decades of activity. Trust the Lord and keep putting one foot in front of the other on the path he has you on. One day you’ll look back and see just how consistently trusting in him has transformed your character.

Third I want to note that Cornelius and his bunch received the Holy Spirit BEFORE they were baptized. Acts is often used by certain friends to try and establish a gospel plus works based salvation, where individuals MUST be baptized in order to be SAVED. I certainly validate the importance of baptism (I am a Baptist, it’s in the name). When and were possible those who profess Christ should be baptized. It’s the first step of obedience in the LORD and if you don’t take that first step in outwardly trusting God then it’s fair to say your faith is suspect at the very least. That being said, Baptism doesn’t save you, Jesus saves you. In the process of salvation it is clear to me that God must do His work in our hearts first. Water baptism in this instance was clearly an outward symbol of what God had already done in the hearts of Cornelius and his family (Acts 10:47, 11:16-17).

Father, thank you for how you work and move in our lives. I pray that as we look over our years in following you that we see your mighty hand at work in our lives. I pray that you would help us to be confident in your work. I pray that we would work together in unity for the sake of your kingdom and your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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