Rev. Ronald C. Purkey claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
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KEY VERSES: And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. (Acts 10:28)
INTRODUCTION: In Acts 10:1-8 the Holy Spirit prepared a man named Cornelius to be saved. Caesarea was a Roman city, the Roman capital of Palestine. Cornelius was a God-fearing Gentile who did not know the truth of the Gospel. He was devout, honest, generous, and sincere; but he was NOT a saved man. (It is possible to be very religious but still be LOST!) Were it not for the fact that God in His grace spoke to Cornelius, he would never have become a believer.
We see here a fulfillment of Christ’s promise in John 7:17, “If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know the truth.” An angel spoke to Cornelius and told him to send for Simon Peter. Why didn’t the angel give Cornelius the message himself? Because God has not given to angels the ministry of sharing the Gospel with sinners.
What a privilege we have in telling the Gospel to lost souls, a privilege angels cannot have! Peter was thirty miles away at Joppa, but with soldier-like obedience, Cornelius called for two servants and a guard and sent them on this important mission. The Holy Spirit was leading all of this activity (Acts 10:19-20.
I. A BARRIER EXISTED. (Acts 10:19-23a)
INSIGHT: We notice in Acts 8 that, when God wants to do a work, (1) He calls a man of God, (2) He empowers him with the Holy Spirit of God, and (3) He enables him to preach the Word of God. This same program of evangelism is seen in operation in Acts chapter 10.
A. The Holy Spirit prepared Peter.
(Acts 10:9-18) 9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, 18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
Whenever God is at work, He leads “at both ends of the line.” He prepares us for what He is preparing for us. Peter saw all kinds of creatures, both clean and unclean (ceremonially speaking (see Leviticus 11) and was commanded to kill and eat. His “Not so, Lord!” reminds us of Matthew 16:22, where he told Christ not to go to the cross. Anyone who says “Lord” cannot say “Not so!” If He is truly Lord, we must obey Him.
B. Peter obeyed the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 10:19-23a) 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? 22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. 23a Then called he them in, and lodged them.
While Peter thought about this vision, which occurred three times, the Holy Spirit spoke to him directly and told him, “Arise and go!” Peter did not go to the Gentiles because he understood the vision, but because the Holy Spirit Himself told him to go (see Acts 11:11-16. Later, Peter fully understood the meaning of the vision, that God had, through the cross, broken down all division between Jews and Gentiles.
II. THE BARRIER COMES DOWN. (Acts 10:23b-29)
A. Cornelius had an influence on people. (Acts 10:23b-24)
(Acts 10:24) 23b And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
We can see that Cornelius had quite an influence on his family and friends. He has called them together for this occasion. And they all came.
B. Cornelius tried to worship Peter. (Acts 10:25)
(Acts 10:25) And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.
Also we can see that Cornelius is still a pagan, a heathen. When he is instructed by an angel to send for Simon Peter, he concludes that this man must really be important; so he falls down and worships Peter.
C. Cornelius was rebuked by Peter. (Acts 10:26)
(Acts 10:26) But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.
It is interesting to see Simon Peter’s reaction to this. Simon Peter would never have let you get down to kiss his big toe. Peter just wouldn’t permit it.
Peter reached down and pulled him to his feet and said, “Stand up; I myself also am a man.” I like the way he did that.
D. Cornelius welcomed Peter into his home. (Acts 10:27)
(Acts 10:27) And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.
Peter stepped into the house. What a step that was! It was the first time that Peter had ever been in a gentile house. He still is really a little baffled at God’s command to go there.
E. Peter violated the first rule of homiletics. (Acts 10:28)
(Acts 10:28) And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
1. He began his message with an apology!
What he says is not a friendly thing to say. In fact, it is an insult. In essence, he said, “If you really want to know how I felt about this, well, I just didn’t want to come. I’ve never been in the home of a Gentile before. Never before have I gone into a place that is unclean!”
INSIGHT: How would you feel, especially if you are a lady who is a house-keeper, if some visitor came into your home and his first words were, “I am coming into your home, which I consider dirty”? You wouldn’t exactly respond with a warm, friendly feeling, would you? Yet this is the substance of what Simon Peter said.
2. He then went on to present important truths.
“Even though I have never before been in an unclean home, God has told me not to call any man unclean. We are all sinners and we are all savable.”
3. He had learned a lesson from God.
Because God had showed him that there was neither clean nor unclean, Peter continues his message.
F. Peter asked, “Why have you called for me?” (Acts 10:29)
(Acts 10:29) Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?
INSIGHT: This amazes me about Peter. Why would Simon Peter ask that question? Why didn’t he immediately begin to tell them about Jesus Christ? Well, you see, the Holy Spirit of God is in charge here, and He keeps Peter from rushing right into this.
1. We need to learn to witness effectively.
This should be an important lesson for us. So often we are rather brisk and even crude in our witnessing. Because we find it difficult to witness, generally when we do it, we are very amateurish about it. We do it so abruptly and in such a way that often it offends people.
2. We need to be led by the Holy Spirit.
I personally believe that the best kind of evangelism today is prayer evangelism. I mean that we should begin by praying for an individual. Then the day will come when we need to put legs on the prayer. Ask God to lead you. I know that He will lead you. If you have been praying for a loved one, or a friend, or a stranger, don’t just go to him in your own strength and in the power of the flesh. If you do, you will fail. Let God be the One to lead you.
3. We need to be careful while witnessing.
We ought to be very careful in our witnessing that we are being led by the Spirit of God. Simon Peter does not walk right in and begin lecturing or preaching. He first finds out what is going on. “Why have you called for me? Why did you send these men for me?”
III. A BARRIER IS CROSSED. (Acts 10:30-33)
(Acts 10:30-33) And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side; who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
A. Cornelius expected a message from God.
Cornelius tells him, “I really don’t know why I sent for you, except that God told me to send for Simon Peter. You must have some message for me.”
B. Peter did not know what to say to a Gentile.
Keep in mind that, up to this time, the Apostles had not preached to the Gentiles. Even the Samaritans (Acts 8) were “half-breed” Jews with reverence for the Mosaic law. Peter did not go to the Gentiles because he was obeying the Great Commission (although he was), but because the Holy Spirit had distinctly commanded him to go.
C. Peter had to get rid of his old prejudices.
1. The old Jewish program.
Like the other apostles, Peter was still clinging to the Jewish outlook, and he believed that the Gentiles could not be reached until the Jews had accepted their Messiah and the Messiah had set up His kingdom.
2. The new Christian program.
But now Peter was going to learn that God was introducing a new program – The Church. Please do not assume that Peter understood all about this new program; in fact, Paul later had to rebuke Peter for his inconsistency (see Galatians 2). During this period of transition (Acts 8-Acts 12) we see Peter disappearing from the scene and with him the kingdom message to Israel.
INSIGHT: According to the Bible, Cornelius and every other Gentile in his house were converted. They all became believers in Jesus Christ as their Savior (see Acts 10:1-48)
By Joanie Yoder
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." -- John 4:9
We can learn a lot about effective witnessing by examining our Lord’s encounter with the woman at the well (John 4:5-26). He broke all social protocol by talking to this Samaritan woman. And asking her for a drink of water was a compliment of sorts. Later, He had a perfect opportunity to condemn her sinful lifestyle, but He didn’t.
Author Paul Little points out that unlike Jesus we are quick to condemn. He writes, “Often we have the mistaken idea that if we don’t condemn a certain attitude or deed, we will be condoning it.” He adds, “Not only must we avoid condemning people, we need to learn the art of legitimate compliment.”
He then related an encounter that writer Charles Trumbull once had on a train. A profanity-spewing, drunken man boarded and lurched into the seat next to him. When the man offered him a drink from his flask, Trumbull didn’t condemn his condition. Instead he replied, “No thank you, but I can see you are a very generous man.” The man’s eyes lit up. As they talked, he heard about the One who offers the satisfying water of life. Later, he gave his life to Christ.
When you share your faith, remember the effectiveness of giving a compliment and avoiding condemnation. – Adapted from Joanie Yoder, Our Daily Bread, August 16, 2001
CONCLUSION: The Lord wants to use us to share the Good News of Jesus with others. The Lord will open doors so that we have opportunities to tell our friends and neighbors about Jesus, and it's crucial for us to understand which doors are open as well as the difficulties that may be keeping us from walking through them. The Lord is possibly asking us to cross personal boundaries, cultural boundaries, social boundaries, or religious boundaries so that some people we would not normally associate with may hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “God has left us in the world to witness to the world.”
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REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
REV. RONALD PURKEY’S OFFICE
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