Learning How People Are and Are Not Saved from the Cornelius Accounts
Through a careful study of Acts 10:1-11:18 and 15:1-33, we learn three major truths about how people are and are not saved.
I. Cornelius was not saved by works.
- By being a powerful, wealthy, and “successful” man in the world (Cornelius was a centurion) – Acts 10:1
- By being a devoted, godly man – Acts 10:2
- By fearing God – Acts 10:2
- By being a good family man who directed his whole household to fear God – Acts 10:2
- By giving alms to the Jewish people – Acts 10:2
- By praying to God always – Acts 10:2
- By having an authentic supernatural experience with a true angel of God – Acts 10:3-5
- By being a just man who met his obligations to others – Acts 10:22
- By being a model citizen who had a good reputation with his entire nation – Acts 10:22
- By having a personal meeting with the top Christ-chosen leader of the apostolic company and doing homage to him – Acts 10:25
- By making a long pilgrimage to a holy site – Cornelius did not go anywhere; Peter came to him and preached the gospel to him, and he was saved by believing the message.
- By having some prior knowledge about Jesus – Acts 10:37-38
- By being baptized – he was saved before he was baptized – Acts 10:44-48
- By being circumcised – Acts 15:1, 5
- By keeping the Law of Moses – Acts 15:5
II. Cornelius was saved through genuine repentance and faith.
- By receiving the word of God – Acts 11:1
- By hearing the word of the gospel and believing – Acts 15:7
- By God’s baptizing him with the Holy Spirit – Acts 11:16
- By God’s granting him repentance – Acts 11:18
- By God’s purifying his heart by faith – Acts 15:9
- Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – Acts 15:11
- By God’s visiting him to take him out of the Gentiles to be one of the people for His name – Acts 15:14
- By turning to God – Acts 15:19
- By receiving the Holy Spirit as a gift from God – Acts 10:45; 11:17; 15:8
- By being saved the way the Prophets had spoken about – Acts 15:15-18
- By God’s rebuilding the Davidic tabernacle that had fallen – Acts 15:16
III. Cornelius was saved by a repentance and faith that produces works.
- Even before he was saved, Cornelius had genuine faith in God that was producing works
–Based on what he already knew prior to the angel’s appearing to him, he feared God and did what was right (Acts 10:35). By faith, he thus believed that there was a God and diligently sought him (cf. Heb. 11:6).
–By faith, he believed the angel’s message to him and sent men to summon Peter (Acts 10:7-8).
–By faith, he gathered his family and close friends to hear Peter’s message (Acts 10:24).
–By faith, he believed that they were all gathered before God to hear all that God had commanded Peter to say to him (Acts 10:33).
- He was saved by genuine repentance and faith that produced the obedience of faith when he heard the gospel message that climactically informed him that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; 11:18; 15:7).
- He was saved by genuine repentance and faith that produced obedience to the command that he was given to be baptized soon after he was saved (Acts 10:48).
See the other lessons in this Sunday school series here.