|Volume 23 Number 12 December 2021
We read about Cornelius in Acts 10-11. He was a Roman centurion who lived in Caesarea. God sent the apostle Peter to help him become a Christian. Many commentators say that Cornelius knew almost nothing about Jesus and the church before he became a Christian. They use him as an example for today, teaching that a person does not need to know very much at all about Christ and the church to become a Christian. Yet, the Scriptures do not support that conclusion.
Cornelius was a devout man. That means he was reverent and pious in his life toward God. He feared God with all his house. That means he respected God and recognized Him to be in charge of all things. Evidently, all his family members also feared God. As the head of his house, he had led them in worshipping God.
He was praying to God at 3 p.m. This was one of the standard times for Jews to pray. The Greek word for “prayed” is the word meaning “begging” or “entreating.” He was constantly asking God what he needed to do to please Him. Cornelius constantly desired to follow what God commanded. He was told to send for Peter so that the apostle could tell him what to do to be saved (11:14).
Cornelius actively did many benevolent works. This means he followed God’s directions to love all men. He was willing to share what he had with others according to God’s commandments.
Peter said in Acts 10:37-43 that Cornelius was knowledgeable of the Word. From the Word of God, one can know peace through Jesus Christ, the Lordship of Jesus, John’s baptism, Jesus the anointed One of God, Jesus full of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus performed many miracles and that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. Cornelius knew about these things.
From what is recorded, it would seem Cornelius and those with him knew a great deal about the Old Testament Scriptures and about Jesus’ life on earth, as well as His Deity.
Study your Bible. Learn all you can from it. Make sure that you are devout, benevolent and God-fearing. Make sure you are doing what is necessary to be saved. If any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.
If I Still Pleased Men
“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 NKJV). Doctrine and direction are two areas where men often seek to be in control. Throughout history, man has observed God’s instructions and found them insufficient, unsatisfactory and offensive. Out of a desire to have a better world in their worldview, they have changed and manipulated the revelation of God and turned it into nothing more than the revelation of men.
When a person manipulates the Gospel message to declare another gospel, God declares them “accursed” (Galatians 1:9). The person who claims God’s message is His bondservant. So then, how do we determine what Gospel message, doctrine and direction we need to hold?
A Revealed Message
“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). Paul demonstrated that if his message originated from men, it was not from God. Not only did it not come from men, but it came directly from the source of authority and standard of judgment, Jesus Christ.
A Miraculous Message
For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. (Galatians 1:12-18)
Paul did not go to a human “central authority” for his message. God revealed to him the message and the purpose of his ministry for the remainder of his life on this earth. The message dictated his decisions, his future and ultimately his demise at the hands of those who hate God and His message.
An Authorized Message
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem… And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles… when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me… and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (Galatians 2:1-9)
Independent of the church, the apostles and any human authorities, Paul received his revelation and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The exclusive authority for the doctrine and direction of the church today is Jesus Christ’s revealed message as given through the Scriptures – rather than a man or even the consensus of the church.