There is a Cornelius in Your Life
There is a Cornelius in Your Life
Does everyone need to hear the gospel? Really? Aren’t some people religious enough already? Meet Cornelius: At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God (Acts 10:1-2).
Cornelius is an upright man, a fine citizen, and God already has a place in his life. He is a God-fearing man, which is surprising considering the fact that he was also a Roman military commander. His background would have been pagan—but somehow he had become disillusioned with the gods of the Romans and attracted toward Judaism. He hadn’t gone so far as to become circumcised, but he was devout. His money did not control him. And he prayed continually, religiously, at the appropriate hours. Chicagoland is full of Corneliuses today. There is a Cornelius in each of our lives. There is someone in your life who is respectful of God, but who has not yet responded to Jesus. That's your Cornelius. They’re religious people. Some of them follow Judaism, others may be Muslims. But many of them attend churches. They are Roman Catholic and Orthodox, Lutheran and Methodist, Episcopal and Baptist, Presbyterian—they're right here in our church.
The Corneliuses of today have a number of convictions in common.
· They recognize that God exists, that He is the supreme Creator and Ruler, the Law-maker and Life-giver.
· They value morality and take great care to distinguish right from wrong. They try very hard to live a good life.
· They think about life beyond this life. They are concerned about their eternal welfare. They want to know that they are living in a way that will be rewarded.
Many of them observe regular times of prayer. They are earnest about doing good works. They carefully educate their children in their religion. Many of them are so zealous they would even die for their faith.
Friends, is this enough? Are you ever tempted to believe that respectable, religious people do not need to hear the gospel? The story of Cornelius makes it clear: religion is not enough. An angel came to Cornelius and told him he needed to hear a message—"a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household" (Acts 11:14). In the words of Tim Keller, “The Christian call to conversion is not a call to morality and religion; it’s a challenge to morality and religion.” Cornelius didn't just need a little touching-up or moral improvement. He needed to be born again. All other religions base your eternal well being on what you DO; Christianity places your eternal being on what God has DONE for you through Jesus Christ. As fine a man as Cornelius was—so generous, so God-fearing, so religious— he needed to hear the message of peace with God through Jesus Christ. He needed to receive the forgiveness of his sins through the Name of Jesus. Cornelius was an upright man—but upright men need a Savior.
· Is there anyone in your life you are tempted to believe may not need to hear the gospel?
· Is there anyone who seems so good, so respectable, that your evangelistic zeal is being blunted?
· Though you say, "Jesus is the only way," in your heart do you believe that some people are going to be just fine without the gospel?
Maybe it’s your best friend, who is religious but doesn’t seem to be putting her trust in Jesus; maybe it’s your son or daughter, who grew up going to church but doesn’t presently have a vital walk with Christ; maybe it’s your Muslim neighbor who prays five times a day.
The Bible is so clear on this: This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12). Your Cornelius needs to hear the message of what God has done for sinful people through Jesus. And this message is not going to come through the lips of an angel. It’s going to come through a person like you. Why not take one small step in reaching your Cornelius with the gospel by inviting him or her to the Exploring Christianity Preview Dinner on October 16? God has entrusted this message to us, friends; may we gladly proclaim it and adorn it by our lives of Spirit-borne love and goodness. As we were challenged throughout the Mission Conference, let us tell the world the message and take it everywhere.
Grateful for God's salvation,