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Are you like Cornelius the centurion? Cornelius the centurion, who lived in the days of the apostles, was a religious unsaved military leader over 100 soldiers when we first read of him. The Bible tells us:
He and all his family were devout and God fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. (Acts 10:2)
What a family that was! They would have made very good neighbors. They were far more sincere than many church goers in our day, yet they were without salvation. Did you catch that? They were unsaved people. This will unfold as we read on through Acts chapters 10 and 11. An angel had appeared to Cornelius the centurion and told him:
Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea. (Acts 10:4-6)
Cornelius the centurion quickly sent three men to get the Apostle Peter to bring him back to Caesarea where he was. Part of the message those three men told Peter, when they found him, was that he (Peter) was to bring a message for Cornelius the centurion to hear. When Peter arrived, there was a large gathering of Gentile people consisting of Cornelius the centurion, his relatives and friends. Peter then gave a salvation sermon that was concise and effective.
It began at Acts 10:34 and ended at verse 43, where we learn how to get initial forgiveness of our sins. That important verse says:
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)
Acts 10:43 is a very important Scripture because it shows we are forgiven of our sins by believing on Jesus. That is another way of saying by trusting on, clinging to and relying upon Jesus to the point of commitment for our salvation. That includes submitting our will to the Lord Jesus and following him in this sinful society. To put it yet a different way such people must turn from their idols to serve the true and living God, as stated in 1 Thess. 1:9.
It is interesting to note that as Peter just finished declaring the truth about how to get forgiven, the audience he was preaching to received that message and were instantly cleansed spiritually. None had to verbally utter a word or pray a prayer. God, who sees the heart, could tell they were repentant and placed their faith in Jesus for their salvation. Hence, he forgave their sins.
That is apparent because they were all baptized in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Almost immediately after they were saved they were water baptized. Again, people in the early church who already believed on Jesus and got forgiven were then water baptized. Nowhere does the Bible teach babies are to be water baptized. Also, the Bible teaches sins are not forgiven in the waters of baptism.
If you don’t read Acts 11, you will miss at least one of the key points about the account of Cornelius the centurion. In chapter 11, Peter recounts what occurred to a group of Jewish brethren. In verse 14 we read that Peter was to bring a message through which Cornelius the centurion and all his household would be saved.
That is very important because it clearly shows they were not saved until they first heard the truth, then acted upon it. In other words, all of their giving generously to those in need and regular prayers to God did not bring their forgiveness. Even though they were sincere, it was not good enough. They remained in their sins and on the road to hell, until they heard the vital truth and acted upon it. This proves how important believing the truth is. Many people in our day wrongly think if you are sincere and believe in God that is good enough for salvation. That is not what the Bible teaches anywhere, including here with Cornelius the centurion.
At the beginning of this message I asked, Are you like Cornelius the centurion? If so, even though you are a devout and God fearing religious person you need to get forgiven and find salvation. Again, you don’t have this, and your precious soul remains in danger, even though you may be doing many religious things.
To add to what we just learned, please know that you can even confess Jesus as Lord and worship God and be unsaved, according to Matt. 7:21 and Acts 8:27. Besides all of that, you can read and even diligently study the Bible and be without salvation, according to John 5:39,40. It was at that passage in John that Jesus said this:
You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
A different Scripture reads:
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:12)
In light of all of this, no one should ever think they will be saved merely because they go inside a building called a church in our day. Neither should any think they will be saved by giving to the poor, being sincere, having a faith in God and/or praying to God. Please remember this.
There is only one way to get forgiven of sins in our day just like there was in the days of the apostles, that is, you must turn away from your sins and place a trusting and submissive faith in the Lord Jesus. He is your only hope of escaping eternal fire. If you know now you need to come to Jesus for forgiveness, please remember the condition Jesus gave. He taught in Luke 9:23:
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
In other words, you must get committed to Jesus to get initial salvation and you must stay with Jesus to continue to have spiritual life, according to Hebrews 3:14. It was the same for Cornelius the centurion. There is always a reproach and a stigma that one will suffer and a price that one will have to pay to unashamedly confess Jesus as their Lord and follow him in our sinful society. Jesus said count the cost in Luke 14:28. Please be assured, you will pay a price to serve God, but it will always be worth any price to have salvation and be on the road to life. GOD BLESS YOU.
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