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“God’s Vision for His People” (Acts 10)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

Have you ever been in a situation where favoritism was shown?

Perhaps you felt like you were passed over for a job or a job promotion because of favoritism.

Perhaps you felt like you didn’t make a sports team or a position in a club or band because of favoritism.

Perhaps you felt like your parents were stricter on you because of favoritism.

Favoritism isn’t fun, is it?

Have you ever thought about this question: What if God showed favoritism?

That wouldn’t be good, would it?

Well, let’s look at a sneak peek of this passage. In Acts 10:34 Peter says, “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism.”

It’s good to know that God does not show favoritism.

Well, let’s figure out what led up to this moment in the passage. Today, we’re going to learn about “God’s Vision for His People.” That’s the name of today’s sermon.

Join me in prayer; then we’ll dive into Acts chapter 10.


Ok, we’re going to cover all of Acts chapter 10 today. It’s a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.

We’re going to learn about four elements from this passage.

First, let’s learn about . . .

‌I. Cornelius’ vision

Let’s look at Acts 10, verses 1-8.

1 There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. 2 He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. 3 About three in the afternoon he distinctly saw in a vision an angel of God who came in and said to him, “Cornelius.”

4 Staring at him in awe, he said, “What is it, Lord?”

The angel told him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, who is also named Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, he called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, who was one of those who attended him. 8 After explaining everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

Here, we have this man named Cornelius. We learn a few things about him, don’t we?

We learn that he lived in Caesarea. As a reminder, this would be Caesarea by the Sea, not Caesarea Philippi.

We learn that he was a centurion. A centurion is a commander in the Roman army who would have commanded around 100 soldiers.

We know that he was a member of the Italian Regiment.

Now, to me, this sounds like he was a member of the mob, but that’s probably not what this means.

Rather, the Italian Regiment probably referred to a specific regiment , either containing soldiers from Italy or a regiment which originally started in Italy.

We also learn that Cornelius was a devout man whose entire household feared God.

What this descriptions means is that Cornelius was a man who respected and sought after the God of Israel, the one true living God.

He prayed to God, and he even showed charity to the Jewish people.

That’s a little about who Cornelius is. Now, let’s see what happened to Cornelius.

We learned in verse 3 and following that Cornelius had a vision from an angel of God.

The angel says to Cornelius in verses 4 and 5, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa and call for Simon, who is also named Peter.”

You see, Cornelius feared the Lord and was seeking the Lord, and the Lord was about to reveal Himself to Cornelius, and He would do so through Peter.

However, Peter was not there at that time. So, the angel instructed Cornelius to send men to Joppa to fetch Peter, and that’s exactly what Cornelius did.

So, that’s Cornelius’ vision.

Next, let’s learn about . . .

‌II. Peter’s vision

Look at verses 9-16:

9 The next day, as they were traveling and nearing the city, Peter went up to pray on the roof about noon. 10 He became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and an object that resembled a large sheet coming down, being lowered by its four corners to the earth. 12 In it were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky. 13 A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.”

14 “No, Lord!” Peter said. “For I have never eaten anything impure and ritually unclean.”

15 Again, a second time, the voice said to him, “What God has made clean, do not call impure.” 16 This happened three times, and suddenly the object was taken up into heaven.

We learn that as the men are traveling to Joppa to find Peter, he is just minding his own business. Then, he goes up on the roof to spend time in prayer while he waits for lunch to be prepared.

We discover that Peter then went into a supernatural trance. Now, this trance was not caused because Peter was so hungry (I’ve felt that hungry at times). Rather, this trance was caused by God to teach Peter something.

However, the vision was connected to Peter’s hunger because we see that Peter was presented with all types of animals to eat.

Now, I know that we have all kinds of special diets today, like vegan, vegetarian, plant-based, keto, high carb, low carb, and all that stuff. However, they didn’t really have all of that back then.

Generally speaking, the people would eat certain grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. When it came to meat, they killed animals and they ate them.

However, the Jewish people had certain restrictions on which types of animals they could eat, as specifically commanded by God in the Mosaic Law (or the law given through Moses).

We learn in verse 12 that in this sheet Peter saw “ . . . were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth, and the birds of the sky.” All the animals were in here. This was like the Golden Corral buffet of animals.

So, there were clean animals in this sheet and there were unclean animals in this sheet. Yet, the voice from heaven says to Peter in verse 13, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.”

Peter politely refuses to eat these animals three times, and each time, the voice replies, “What God has made clean, do not call impure.”

Well, what could all of this mean? I imagine Peter was pretty confused, and some of you probably are, as well.

Let’s keep learning. Next, we see . . .

‌III. Peter’s visit

Look at verses 17-33:

17 While Peter was deeply perplexed about what the vision he had seen might mean, right away the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon’s house, stood at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon, who was also named Peter, was lodging there.

19 While Peter was thinking about the vision, the Spirit told him, “Three men are here looking for you. 20 Get up, go downstairs, and go with them with no doubts at all, because I have sent them.”

21 Then Peter went down to the men and said, “Here I am, the one you’re looking for. What is the reason you’re here?”

22 They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” 23 Peter then invited them in and gave them lodging.

The next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went with him. 24 The following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and worshiped him.

26 But Peter lifted him up and said, “Stand up. I myself am also a man.” 27 While talking with him, he went in and found a large gathering of people. 28 Peter said to them, “You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner, but God has shown me that I must not call any person impure or unclean. 29 That’s why I came without any objection when I was sent for. So may I ask why you sent for me?”

30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this hour, at three in the afternoon, I was praying in my house. Just then a man in dazzling clothing stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your acts of charity have been remembered in God’s sight. 32 Therefore send someone to Joppa and invite Simon here, who is also named Peter. He is lodging in Simon the tanner’s house by the sea.’ 33 So I immediately sent for you, and it was good of you to come. So now we are all in the presence of God to hear everything you have been commanded by the Lord.”

Ok, let’s look at our maps again. See here that Peter travels from Joppa where he was staying after God used him to heal Tabitha, then he travels up from there to Caesarea.

It seems to be about two days journey for the men to come to Joppa, then another two days for Peter to journey back with them to Caesarea.

So, Peter is thinking about this vision, then the Spirit of God basically tells him, “Hey some guys are looking for you, go with them and do what they say.”

Peter obeys and comes to meet the men before they even fetch him. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

The men are asking about Peter, and Peter just shows up. This is just another sign of how God is at work in this story.

As we saw in the passage, Peter goes back with the men to Caesarea, hangs out with these non-Jewish men, and hears about what Cornelius has experienced.

We notice through all of this that the pieces start falling into place in Peter’s mind. He starts to see what God is doing here. Peter starts to realize God’s vision for His people.

That’s our final point:

‌IV. God’s vision

Let’s look at the final part of this chapter:

34 Peter began to speak: “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, 35 but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37 You know the events that took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him. 39 We ourselves are witnesses of everything he did in both the Judean country and in Jerusalem, and yet they killed him by hanging him on a tree. 40 God raised up this man on the third day and caused him to be seen, 41 not by all the people, but by us whom God appointed as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be the judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.”

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and declaring the greatness of God.

Then Peter responded, 47 “Can anyone withhold water and prevent these people from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for a few days.

Let’s come back to where we started in this sermon. Verse 34: “Peter began to speak: ‘Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism.’”

Listen, church: God’s vision for His people is a vision with diversity. God does not show favoritism; God shows mercy, grace, and love.

God does not save you based on whether you are Jewish or non-Jewish.

You are not saved by your ethnicity. You are not saved by your income, your intelligence, your heritage, your beauty, your ability, your location, your power, your prestige, your gender, your political party, your status, your standing, or anything based on who you are.

It’s not about who you are in and of yourself, it’s about who you are in Jesus.

Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”

As Peter explains the gospel to Cornelius and those gathered at his house, he says of Jesus in verse 43, “All the prophets testify about him that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.”

The dinner table at God’s heavenly home will include His sons and daughters from generations and generations from every reach of the globe, all united under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We read about this beautiful reality in a vision of what is to come in Revelation 7:9–10 “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

That brings us to our bottom line:

‌Bottom Line: God’s vision for His people includes all those who believe in Jesus.

God radically changed Cornelius and all those with him. Those who were considered foreigners were welcomed in as part of God’s family.

Their faith was proved genuine in front of Peter, and the other Jewish Christians as the Holy Spirit came upon them and they were baptized in the name of Jesus.

God had a vision for His people to include much more than the Jewish people, and His vision was displayed powerfully that day.

Challenge yourself in this one way this week:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Embrace God’s vision for His people.

Do you understand God’s vision for His people? Do you embrace it as your own heart and desire as well?

Church, as we read in verse 34, God does not show favoritism. So, let us liberally and faithfully declare the salvation of Jesus Christ, and let us extend the invitation to become part of God’s family to any and all who will hear.

As Romans 10:13–15 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

May we have hearts that embrace God’s kingdom, and may we have mouths that preach God’s kingdom.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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