Church for All
The conversion of Cornelius was more gradual than Saul’s, but no less important. He too needed to know Jesus Christ and the “remission of sins” (43). He too needed to know the “peace” that only comes by Jesus Christ (36). The light of Cornelius’ conversion illuminated the whole church.
God is not “respecter of persons.” Salvation is for the whole world, if it would only trust in Christ. Cornelius was a centurion, an Italian, a gentile. The New Testament Church was one church. Now we have our Korean, Chinese, Black, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations. Today we are very much “respecter of persons.” We do not keep “kosher,” the same way the Hebrews did, but if someone does not share our religious “taste buds” we will not allow them to break bread with us. We do not hold to the dietary restrictions of the Old Testament, but too often we only welcome into our house, those who do it like we do.
The experience of Acts 10 was to show Peter and us that the church is larger than our custom, tradition, preference, or past experience. This is not to say that “anything goes.” Peter did not easily abandon what he clearly saw his Bible. God just showed him that his “proof texts” were larger than he imagined. “God so loved the world….,” really means “God so loved the world….” “Not respecter of persons,” means everyone.
The message is that we are all going to be judged by the one who “went about doing good” (38), and that He alone is the judge of the quick and the dead. The message is that if we bow in faith before Jesus our sins will be forgiven.
Had Peter permitted Cornelius to remain “bowed,” the first denomination would have been born. Peter knew better. There is too much bowing to men. There was a day when the church bowed to Christ only. Such was the New Testament church which was a church for all.