Why Send For Peter?
by Robert Turner
An angel appeared unto a man named Cornelius. This devout, God-fearing, alms-giving man was praying to God — as was his custom — when an angel of God appeared to him in a vision. (You can read it for yourself — Acts 10)
According to popular conceptions this could mean hallucinations, latter-day revelations, or special divine appointment. An even greater number would say this proved that Cornelius was saved from his sins — had experienced a “work of grace.” I have heard of people “voted into the church” on far less evidence. But the angel was none of these things to Cornelius.
The angel told Cornelius to send for Peter, who shall “tell thee what thou oughtest to do;” or “tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (See Acts 11:13-f.)
Prayers, alms, and devoutness not-withstanding, this man still needed to be saved. Christianity is far more than good citizenship, moral uprightness, or even respect for God. A Christian has all of this, and more; but these things are found among many who have not yet become followers of Jesus Christ and hence have neither salvation from past sins nor hope for Heaven.
But why send for Peter? Could not the angel tell Cornelius all he needed to know? Or the Holy Spirit — did not this miraculous out-pouring do all that should be done for him?
When Peter began to speak (11:15) the Holy Spirit was indeed poured out upon these Gentiles — a marvelous thing for Peter and those Jews with him to behold. Until recently they had thought the gospel was for Jews only. (See 10:9-16, 25-29; 11:1-4) It took this demonstration of divine acceptance (as subjects of the gospel) to convince the Jews that the gospel was for all nations (10:44-f.11:15-f).
But now that they were proven proper subjects of the gospel, there remained the task of preaching: to them, and urging those who would to obey. People must be taught of God; so they may hear, learn and come. (Jn. 6:45) We draw nigh to God through the word of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
What the angel or Holy Spirit could do was hedged about by divine regulations. God had placed His truth in “earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7) that its divine origin might be the more apparent. It was not His will then or now that heavenly messengers deliver the story of salvation to the world. It was “once for all” delivered to inspired men, and through them to the written form in which we now find it. (Jude 3, Eph. 3:1-f. 2 Pet. 1:14-f.)
Peter did exactly what God intended he should do. He preached the good news of Christ to Cornelius and his household, and baptized those who gladly received the word. Note, He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10:48)
Cornelius was not saved — was not a Christian — until he heard, believed and obeyed the gospel of Christ.
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