How did the faith of one man change the world?
The ancient port city of Jaffa, known in Hebrew as Yafo, just outside of Tel Aviv in Israel is the site of millennias of stories. The most important biblical event that occurred in Jaffa, in my opinion, was the Apostle Peter's invitation to meet with a Gentile named Cornelius.
Cornelius was a righteous Roman soldier who served up the coast in Caesarea Maritime. As he was praying one day, an angel appeared to him and told him to send men to Jaffa to find the Apostle Peter.
The next day, as Cornelius' men approached Jaffa, Peter was prepared for their visit by being given a vision in which he was told to eat unclean animals. As Peter was reflecting on the meaning of the vision, Cornelius' men arrived and Peter agreed to accompany them to the city.
After a two-day journey up the coast, Peter arrived at Caesarea Maritime and proceeded to the house of Cornelius. As he entered the house, Peter seemed to suddenly understand the meaning of the vision that God had given him.
Here's what it says in Acts 10, beginning with verse 28, "Then Peter said to them, 'You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.'" He proceeded and said, "In truth, I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him."
Peter then proceeded to present the first Gospel sermon to a group of Gentiles. In the sermon, Peter emphasized the resurrection of Jesus. Listen to how he did it:
"You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all the things He did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. But God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead."
Then, as Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon the assembly and people began to speak in tongues and praise God. Peter realized it was the very same thing that had happened on the Day of Pentecost, and he took it as a sign of God's approval for the Gospel to be preached to the Gentiles.
This, to say the least, was a revolutionary event! The grace of God was being extended to the Gentiles — a pagan people despised by the Jews. You and I can thank the Lord for this event, for it opened up the doors for the Gospel to be shared outside of the Jewish people and bring salvation to the whole world.
A Basic Question
The story of Cornelius leaves us with a basic question. How does it apply to you and me today?
Well, the answer is really very simple.
We live in a world where every religion except Christianity teaches salvation by good works. Satan wants everyone to believe that they can get to Heaven by just being good. And, do you know what? Satan has been very successful at convincing most people throughout history that they can earn their way to Heaven.
But, in truth, there is only one way to eternal life with God, and that is through faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Salvation is a gift of God by grace through faith. There is nothing that you can do to earn it. You cannot be saved by being born into a Christian family. You cannot be saved by joining a church. Religious rites like baptism will not save you. And, all the good works in the world will not cleanse you of your sins.
Cornelius was a good, just, generous and righteous man, but he needed a Savior.
Before he met Cornelius, Peter had preached a sermon to the very Sanhedrin Council that had condemned Jesus to death. In that sermon, Peter declared: "There is no salvation in anyone else. For there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? I hope so, because the signs of the times indicate He is returning very soon. Folks, we are living on borrowed time!
Are you a professing Christian, but one who is trusting in your own good works? If so, you need to transfer that trust to Jesus and to Him alone.
Whether you are not a Christian or you claim to be one, but have never really put your trust in Jesus, I invite you to pray this prayer with me:
Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a sinner and that I need a Savior. By faith I receive your free gift of salvation by accepting Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth, as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Father, for your grace and mercy. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer with me, I urge you to find a Bible believing and Jesus exalting church where you can profess your faith publicly and manifest your faith through baptism.