"BAPTISM" What About Cornelius And His Household? INTRODUCTION 1. At this point we are considering objections to the idea that baptism is... a. For the remission of sins b. Therefore necessary for salvation 2. In the previous study we examined the salvation of the thief on the cross, noting that... a. He was saved before the command to be baptized into Christ's death was given b. He was saved before the new covenant became of force -- Which makes his example of salvation irrelevant to the issue of baptism 3. Another objection concerns Cornelius and his household, which be summarized like this: a. The Spirit came upon Cornelius and his family before they were baptized b. The Spirit falling upon them was evidence that they were saved c. Therefore they were saved before baptism, making it not essential to salvation 4. Is this a proper conclusion to reach? a. Does the evidence in Acts support such a conclusion? b. Did Peter and the others conclude that the Spirit falling upon the Gentiles was for the purpose of saving them, and therefore they were saved before baptism? 5. There are important questions that must be answered as we consider the events of this conversion: a. Exactly when did the Spirit fall upon Cornelius and his household? b. What was the purpose of the Spirit falling upon them? [As we consider the objection, "What About Cornelius And His Household?", let's first take a close look at...] I. THE ACTUAL SEQUENCE OF EVENTS IN THIS CONVERSION A. THE ANGEL APPEARS TO CORNELIUS... 1. Cornelius, a centurion, is a very religious man - Ac 10:1-2 2. The angel appears to him - Ac 10:3-6 a. With an announcement that his prayers and alms have been noticed by God b. With instructions to send for Peter; please note: 1) The angel said, "He will tell you what you must do." - Ac 10:6 2) As Peter later recounted, "...who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved." - Ac 11:14 -- NOTE WELL: Cornelius would not be saved until he heard words telling him what to do! 3. Cornelius then sends two servants and a devout soldier to Peter - Ac 10:7-8 B. PETER HAS A VISION... 1. While the three men are traveling toward Peter, he has a vision - Ac 10:9-16 ; 11:4-10 a. It involves a sheet descending from heaven, containing all sorts of creatures b. A voice tells Peter to "kill and eat" c. Peter objects, for he has never eaten anything common or unclean d. The voice tells him, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." 2. Three times the vision is repeated C. THE SPIRIT TELLS PETER TO GO WITH THE MESSENGERS... 1. The men from Cornelius arrive as Peter contemplates the vision - Ac 10:17-18 ; 11:11 2. The Spirit tells Peter to go, "doubting nothing, for I have sent them" - Ac 10:19-20 ; 11:12 3. Peter receives the men and takes six with him as they go to Cornelius - Ac 10:21-23 ; 11:12 D. PETER ARRIVES AT CORNELIUS' HOUSE... 1. Cornelius has gathered his family and close friends - Ac 10:24 2. Peter deflects an attempt by Cornelius to worship him - Ac 10: 25-26 3. Peter explains his presence is a violation of Jewish custom, but now understands "I should not call any man common or unclean" - Ac 10:27-28 4. Asked by Peter to explain why he was called, Cornelius recounts the appearance and instructions of the angel - Ac 10: 29-32; 11:13-14 5. Cornelius and his household were ready "to hear all things commanded you by God" - Ac 10:33 E. AS PETER BEGINS TO SPEAK, THE SPIRIT FALLS UPON THE LISTENERS... 1. At this point, carefully note the actual sequence of events 2. Luke's record gives attention to the sermon first, and then the Spirit coming upon the Gentiles - cf. Ac 10:34-44 a. But Luke also says that "WHILE Peter was still speaking... the Holy Spirit fell" b. From this we do not exactly when the Spirit fell c. It could have been at the beginning, in the middle, toward the end, of his sermon 3. Peter, however, explained what happened "in order from the beginning" - Ac 11:4 a. He describes the events as they happened b. He says "AS I BEGAN TO SPEAK, the Holy Spirit fell upon them" - Ac 11:15 -- NOTE WELL: We learn from Peter that the Spirit actually came upon the Gentiles at the BEGINNING of the sermon! 4. With the Spirit falling upon the Gentiles, they began speaking with tongues, which amazed Peter and his Jewish companions - Ac 10:45-46 ; cf. Ac 2:4 ,6,8,11 F. PETER'S SERMON TO THE HOUSEHOLD OF CORNELIUS... 1. He begins with a full perception that God shows no partiality - Ac 10:34-35 a. A perception started with the vision of the sheet and unclean beasts b. A perception continued with the Spirit's instruction to go with the messengers c. A perception made clear with the Spirit falling upon the Gentiles - Ac 11:15-17 2. Peter then proceeds to proclaim Jesus Christ - Ac 10:36-43 a. As Lord who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power - Ac 10:36-38 b. Who was killed, but then raised from the dead and seen by eyewitnesses who knew Him well - Ac 10:39-41 c. Who has commanded the apostles to proclaim Him as ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and dead - Ac 10:42 d. Through Whom remission of sins is offered to those who believe - Ac 10:43 G. PETER COMMANDS THEM TO BE BAPTIZED... 1. How could anyone forbid water to those who had received the Spirit just as the apostles did? - Ac 10:47 ; cf. 11:17-18 2. So Cornelius and his household were commanded to be baptized in the name of the Lord - Ac 10:48 [The events surrounding this conversion are certainly remarkable. They evidently were intended to convey important truths. But our purpose in this study is to answer these questions: * At what point were Cornelius and his household saved? * If not to save them, what was the purpose of the Spirit falling upon Cornelius and his household? Let's now answer the first question...] II. THE POINT AT WHICH CORNELIUS WAS SAVED A. REMEMBER WHAT CORNELIUS WAS TOLD... 1. Peter would tell him "what you must do." - Ac 10:6 2. Peter would tell him "words by which you...shall be saved." - Ac 11:14 B. YET THE SPIRIT FELL UPON HIM BEFORE HE HEARD... 1. As Peter said, the Spirit fell upon them "as I began to speak" 2. It wasn't until the end of his sermon and afterward that Peter told them the "words by which you...shall be saved." C. CORNELIUS WAS SAVED AFTER HE HEARD... 1. The "words" by which he would be saved (i.e., the sermon) 2. What he was told to do a. Such as to believe - cf. Ac 10:43 b. Such as to be baptized, as commanded in Ac 10:48 -- Until he heard the words, and obeyed what he was told, he was not saved! [Since Cornelius and his family were not saved until they heard the "words" by which they would be saved, and told what they "must do", the Spirit falling upon them did not saved them, for it came upon them BEFORE they heard the "words" and were told what to do! But why did the Spirit come upon them, if not to save them? Consider what actually was...] III. THE PURPOSE OF THE SPIRIT FALLING UPON CORNELIUS A. THE PURPOSE CAN BE GLEANED FROM THE FOLLOWING... 1. The effect it had on the Jewish brethren who were present, and Peter's response - Ac 10:45-47 2. The reaction of the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem when Peter told them what happened - Ac 11:17-18 3. Peter's explanation at the council held later in Jerusalem - Ac 15:7-11 B. THE PURPOSE WAS TO SHOW JEWISH BRETHREN... 1. That God was no respecter of persons - Ac 10:34-35 2. That God was willing to grant them opportunity to repent and have life - Ac 11:18 3. That Gentiles could be saved in the same way as Jews... a. By faith, repentance, and baptism - Ac 15:9 ,11; cf. 2:38 with 10:48 b. Which faith comes through hearing the word of God - Ro 10: 17 CONCLUSION 1. While miraculous events surrounded the conversion of Cornelius and his family, their salvation was no different from what we see in other cases of conversion... a. They heard the gospel of Jesus Christ b. They were taught to believe and be baptized -- Thus they were saved "in the same manner" as all those previously - cf. Mk 16:15-16 ; Ac 2:38 ; 8:12 2. The purpose of the Spirit falling upon them... a. Was not to show one could be saved without baptism b. But to show that Gentiles were no longer to be considered "common" or "unclean", and could be granted the same opportunities to hear the gospel and be saved by it! 3. One might also ask... a. When the Spirit came upon Balaam to prophesy concerning Israel, did it save him? - Num 24:2 b. When the Spirit came upon Saul to prophesy, did it save him? - 1 Sam 19:20-24 c. When Caiaphas prophesied, was he saved? - Jn 11:49-52 -- The purpose of the Spirit coming upon a person may vary, and one should not assume that one filled with the Spirit at any given time is thereby being saved by the Spirit! Those of us not descended from Israel can rejoice in what God revealed with the conversion of Cornelius and his household. As properly concluded by the Jewish brethren in Jerusalem: "...God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." (Ac 11:16 ) And when carefully noted, they were saved "in the same manner" (cf. Ac 15:9-11 ) as all others, having their hearts purified through faith when they heard and obeyed the word of God!