Closing the Space Between Us (Part 2)
Sermon Title: “Closing the Space Between Us (Part 2)”
Sermon Series: Acts: Kingdom Vision 20/20
Text: Acts 10:33-48
Speaker: Pastor Damian Mericka
- Introduction: Other Sheep (John 10:1-21)
In a flashback moment we find Jesus who has just healed a man that was born blind. This miracle drew the attention of many, including the Pharisees. They along with a great cloud of others gathered around the source of this healing, Jesus, as He began one of His most decisive messages. It was a message that showed how God’s Kingdom was a family made up of more than just the Jewish people.
He is the Good Shephard.
Jesus is the door all must pass through to be a part of the flock. Jesus is the Shephard that lays His life down for the sheep. This is a work resting entirely on Jesus. His sheep hear and follow His voice. Resurrection would be the turn of events that bring a new work that included both Jews and Gentiles.
Note: Jesus is calling His sheep from folds; the only way out is through Him, the Gate. The only way out of what they are trapped in: sin. Believers are referred to as the ecclesia; called out ones! Folds are figurative dividing places; pens / prisons. The only Door is Jesus!
The other sheep Jesus refers to the Gentiles who will come through the gate by faith and become a part of this family. (John 10:16)
While fully invested in those with Him in the present moment, Jesus also has His eyes on those who have yet to hear, come, and receive.
Regardless of our fold- Jew or Gentile- the entrance into God’s Kingdom / Family is always though Jesus by faith. Note -> Romans 3:28-30.
Going Deeper: 1) What does Jesus mean that He is the Good Shephard and the Door to the fold? Does He call people into or out from? What does He empower His sheep to do? Who are the other sheep? How do we go through the Door of Jesus- works or faith?
- The Good Shepherd Calls (Acts 10:33-43)
Cornelius with his gathered relatives and close friends (v. 24) are awaiting the command of the Lord from His servant, Peter. As a military man, Peter enters a home were everyone is at “attention” ready to receive their orders from the higher command. Their hearts have been nurtured and prepared by the Spirit for the witness they are about to receive. (v.33)
The audience is unlike any Peter had been led to share the Gospel with. Up to this point his ministry had been toward Jews whose history was one of resistance and rebellion to God’s Word, or the Sanhedrin who are the false shepherds of Israel. Peter is sensitive to the Spirit and shares the Gospel in a way that falls onto hearts prepared to receive.
Peter opens his mouth (v.34), meaning what follows is of great value, or importance. He is sharing the Gospel with them.
His witness begins by affirming he is just a man like he (Cornelius) is (v.26) and continues to show that salvation truly belongs to Jesus- for God is not a respecter of persons. (v.34). This message is for anyone who fears and does what is acceptable to Him. (v.35)
As Jesus leads His new flock, He calls out through His followers for others to hear and follow. Remember, the Holy Spirit is already at work in the world. See -> John 16:7-15. The Spirit of God is at work not only in transforming believers, but in convicting unbelievers and preparing the world for judgment. Cornelius was responding to the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God that had been shared through the Synagogues resulting in fear and obedience. (Note: Romans 10:17)
Remember, Cornelius is in Caesarea, the Roman seat of authority in Judea. Between that and the Synagogues, he would have both heard the Name of Jesus and of His Ministry. (Vv. 36-37)
Peter goes on to explain how Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and His ministry was one that went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. (Note: 1 John 3:8). As a Roman Centurion, Cornelius would have understood this illustration of Jesus as a conquering Warrior whom God was with. All that touches humanity because of sin is broken and reversed by Jesus- demon possession, disease, and spiritual darkness. (v.38)
Here Peter rewinds from the present to where it began: Gentiles <- Samarian <- Judea <- Jerusalem. Himself a witness, the most religious of the Jews put Jesus to death on the cross. This act testifying to the depth our of depraved hearts. Even though salvation comes from the Jews, they are as much in need of Jesus for salvation as everyone else. (v.39)
Resurrection- central to the entire Gospel message. Without the death, burial, and resurrection we have no good news. (See -> 1 Corinthians 15:12-19) Jesus physically resurrected; not a ghost but a living being who ate and drank with those whom He showed Himself to. (v.40)
Why only to believers? Why didn’t Jesus show Himself to unbelievers? I believe it is the same reason why you can see Jesus in your life today and others cannot. (Note: Jeremiah 5:21) The voice of the Good Shepherd cries out through His Sheep to those who have yet to leave their folds and come to Him for forgiveness of sins- salvation, healing, deliverance, transformation- Life Abundant! (Vv.41-43)
Going Deeper: 2) How is the Spirit at work in both believers and unbelievers and what is He doing to the world? Why does Peter emphasis Jesus’ conquering ministry in God’s Power? Who or what is Jesus conquering? What is the central heart of the Gospel and how important is believing and declaring that? Why can’t people see Jesus- then and now?
III. The Spirit is poured out upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48)
As Cornelius and his family with close friends hear the full Gospel message, all loose ends pulled together into the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit falls upon them! Peter hadn’t even gotten to the invitation yet! His entire message found them ready to leave their fold and come through the gate of Jesus for eternal life!
This outpouring came from God directly as it had the Believers in the Upper Room- even the believing Jews who accompanied Peter were amazed. God exceeded their expectation on what He would do in their lives -> may He do this for all we are interceding in prayer over!
What happened was worship- Spirit filled and led worship of God. They spoke in tongues and were extolling (exalting) God.
These Gentiles for so long worshiped the furthest from the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies; and now Jesus came to them and closed the space between them!
Note Peter does not mention circumcision. Much is changing as Christianity breaks from its ancestral training wheels. Peter immediately commands that they make this very public- it is time to be Baptized!
Going Deeper: 3) How did the Holy Spirit come upon the Gentiles? What immediately happened? Why were the believing Jews’ expectations exceeded? Why did Peter command them to be baptized rather than circumcised?
- Jesus’ voice calls out to all in any fold- “Come to Me”
Cornelius and his family with close friends are now a part of God’s Kingdom- His family. They are filled to overflow God’s love as they go into the folds of this world with Jesus’ voice.
I want us today to feel this invitation today- to either be or hear and respond to Jesus’ voice. Cornelius’ good works did not save him- he needed Jesus. We all need Jesus. He is the only door to pass through and become a part of His family.
Have you come to Him for forgiveness of sin? Do you know Him as your Savior?
Maybe you have, or want to, but are feeling trapped in one of the many folds found in this world- religious (Judaism, works-based Christianity, Muslim, Wiccan, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, satanism, etc), addiction (drugs, alcohol, sex / pornography, abuse), or denial (unbelief, self-righteousness, I-can-do-this-on-my-own attitude, affliction, torment). Whatever and wherever, the Spirit of God’s work is upon you. Now is the hour of salvation. Now is the time to leave those things behind and come to Jesus- He has closed the s
(See -> 2 Corinthians 6:1-3 / Ephesians 2:11-14)
Going Deeper: 4) Can our good works save us? Is there salvation for anyone outside of Jesus? What do folds refer to in this message? What fold has Jesus called you out of? What fold are you presently feeling shackled in? What fold is Jesus leading you into, to be His voice in calling others out? In every situation, Jesus’ voice is heard through His Word. Listen to the Spirit, obey in His Strength, and take that next step with Him!