I. First Two Miracles
A. Healing Aeneas (9:32-35)
- Throughout the ninth chapter of Acts we have been watching the movements of Saul. He has become a disciple of Jesus by being baptized for the forgiveness of sins. He was run out of Damascus and Jerusalem as the Jews tried to kill him for preaching Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. The focus will now shift back to the apostle Peter as we read the next couple chapters.
- Peter is traveling about the region and comes to the saints who lived in the city of Lydda. In Lydda there was a man named Aeneas who had been paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. Peter arrives and simply says, "Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Get up and make your own bed." Immediately Aeneas got up. The effect of the miracle was powerful because all the people in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord based on what they saw.
B. Raising Tabitha (9:36-43)
- While Peter is in Lydda, there is a disciple named Tabitha in Joppa who was always doing good works and acts of charity. But Tabitha became sick and died. Since the city of Lydda is near Joppa, the disciples in Joppa sent two men begging Peter to come to Joppa.
- Peter arrives in Joppa and the widows show Peter all the good works Tabitha had done for the people while she lived. Peter sends them all out of the room, knelt down, prayed, and then said, "Tabitha, get up!" Tabitha opened her eyes, saw Peter, sat up, and then stood up. Everyone in Joppa heard about what had happened and many believed in the Lord based on this miracle.
II. The Salvation of Cornelius
A. The preparation of Cornelius (10:1-8)
- In Acts 10 we are introduced to a man in Caesarea named Cornelius. He is a centurion in the Italian Regiment, meaning that he was in charge of 300-600 soldiers. This is a powerful and influential person.
- But more than his military power, we learn about the character of Cornelius. He is not the hard man we would imagine being in charge of so many Roman soldiers. Cornelius is a believer in God. Verse 2 tells us that Cornelius "was a devout man and fear God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the people and always prayed to God." This description concerning Cornelius’ spiritual life is important for us to observe. He is devout toward God. He fears God and his whole household also fears God. He prays to God and performs many charitable deeds. We must be impressed with this Roman captain who has this kind of zeal for the Lord.
- But let us ask an important question at this point: was Cornelius saved at this point? Again, I want to emphasize today that most of the religious world teaches that one is saved by fearing the Lord and offering prayers to God. But we will see that Cornelius was not saved and required something more to receive the grace of God.
- An angel of the Lord speaks to Cornelius in a vision, telling him that his prayers and acts of charity have come up before God as a memorial offering. Therefore, Cornelius was to send men to Joppa call for Peter who would explain what to do.
B. The preparation of Peter (10:9-20)
- While the men have been sent by Cornelius from Caesarea, Peter is in Joppa staying with Simon. At about noon Peter goes on to the housetop to pray. While on the housetop Peter sees a vision of an object like a large sheet being lowered to the earth by the four corners. In the object were all the four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth and birds of the sky. A voice says to Peter, "Get up, Peter; kill and eat!"
- Peter responds "No, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common and unclean!" The voice says to Peter, "What God has made clean, you must not call common." This happens three times and then the object was taken up into heaven. Now Peter is wondering what this vision met.
- While Peter is thinking about this vision, the men who had been sent by Cornelius arrived at the door, asking if Peter was staying there. The Spirit tells Peter to go downstairs and accompany the men without doubting because God had sent them. So Peter goes downstairs to the men who are at the door.
C. The explanation to Peter (10:21-33)
- The men tell Peter about Cornelius who is a God-fearing, upright, and has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation. The angel directed the men to bring Peter back to Cornelius to hear Peter’s message. While Peter and the men are traveling to Caesarea, Cornelius has gathered all his relatives and close friends together to hear the message Peter was going to bring.
- When Peter enters the house, Cornelius meets him, falls at Peter’s feet and worships him. But Peter picks Cornelius up, saying, "Stand up! I myself am also a man." Peter declares that he is simply a man and not to be revered or worshipped. Just as an aside, if Peter did not demand or deserve any worship or titles, we ought to be skeptical of any person who looks to be worshipped by falling at their feet, kissing their hand or ring, giving them a special title, or elevating the person in any manner. If the apostles refused such treatment, no person should receive such treatment except God Himself.
- Peter explains that he is aware that it is forbidden for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit a foreigner. However, Peter has seen a vision in which God has shown him that he must not call any person common or unclean any longer. This is the reason Peter has come without objection. It is important for us to realize how no Jew would have ever done this. A miracle was required for both Peter and Cornelius in the form of visions to make this arrangement happen.
- Cornelius then go about explaining the reason why they called for Peter. The angel told Cornelius that his prayer had been heard and his acts of charity had been remembered by God. The angel further told Cornelius to summon for Peter and have him come to Caesarea. So Cornelius and his whole family are all present before the Lord to hear everything Peter had been commanded by God.
D. The proclamation of Peter (10:34-43)
- Peter begins his message by relating to the household that God truly shows no partiality or favoritism. In every nation the person who fears God and does righteousness is accepted by God. The good news of peace began to be proclaimed to the sons of Israel available through Jesus Christ. Peter continues that Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and with power going about doing good because God was with him. The apostles are witnesses to everything Jesus did in Judea and Jerusalem. The Jews killed Jesus by hanging him on a tree but God raised him up on the third day and permitted him to be seen, not by all people, but by the apostles and other witnesses appointed beforehand by God.
- Jesus commanded the apostles to preach to the people and testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to the judge of the living and the dead. All of the prophets testify about Jesus that through his name, everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins.
E. The validation of the Holy Spirit and salvation to the Gentiles (10:44-48)
- While Peter is still speaking, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The believers who accompanied Peter were astounded at the Holy Spirit coming down on Cornelius and his household. Cornelius and his household began to speak in other languages, just as we saw the apostles able to perform in Acts 2.
- Peter tells his companions, "Can anyone withhold water and prevent these from being baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" The falling of the Holy Spirit was a sign to Peter and his companions that the Gentiles had the right to respond to the good news of Jesus and receiving the forgiveness of sins through baptism. Peter then commands Cornelius and his household to be baptized so they can receive the grace of God.
- Notice that Peter does not suggest they get baptized. Peter does not tell Cornelius it would be a good idea, but that baptism was not necessary. Peter commanded baptism. If these people wanted the forgiveness of sins as they had been praying about, then they need to be baptized to receive forgiveness. Therefore, Cornelius and his household respond to Peter’s message and are baptized.
II. The Miracle of Salvation
A. The power of God’s grace
- I told you in the beginning there are three miracles we are reading about. The third miracle is not the visions to Cornelius and Peter, though these are miraculous events. The miracle, which is the greatest miracle of all, is our salvation. The forgiveness of sins and salvation from the chains of hell is the greatest miracle of the three miracles we have looked at this morning. Yet you may say that forgiveness of sins and salvation is not a miracle. But the scriptures beg to differ.
- Paul called salvation a miracle in Romans 1:16. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." The word translated "power" in Romans 1 is the Greek word dunamis. This word is consistently used in reference to the direct power of God and is even translated "miracle" or "miraculous" 22 times. The Greek scholars say this word refers to, "(miraculous) power, might, strength" (NAS Greek) and "specially, miraculous power" (Strongs). Dunamis is not a generic word for power and authority. The Greek word exousia seen many times in Revelation regarding the power of the locusts and armies is the more common word for power and authority. When we read dunamis, we are to think of tremendous might and power.
B. Our resurrection
- I believe we read Paul’s words that the gospel is the power of God for salvation and do not see the power of these words. In Ephesians 2, Paul told us that we were dead in our sins and trespasses and were by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). But look what Paul says, " 4But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! 6 He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:4-6).
- Paul is describing a miracle taking place in our lives. We are dead and God is raising us from the dead, making us alive with Christ. Paul is emphasizing what amazing power and abundant love was shown to raise us from our spiritual death. Verse 5 reminds us of our status: we were dead in trespasses. But God has authored a resurrection in our lives, taking us from being dead and making us alive.
- The raising of people from the dead was to show us that God has the power to raise our spiritual bodies from sin and death and make us alive. Specifically, we are to witness this power in the resurrection of Jesus. Paul makes this point in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Closely look at verses 14-18: " 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost."
- If Christ has not been raised from the dead, then we are not raised from the dead. We are still in our sins and lost without the power of God raising Christ from the dead. Our miracle of resurrection from sins is tied to the miracle of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. If one happened, the other has also happened.
- Baptism is the way we show our faith in the power of God and are raised from our spiritual death. " 12 Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses" (Colossians 2:12-13). Submit to God’s will and God’s power by being immersed in water and be raised from your sins to be alive to God. God raised Christ from the dead. By the power of God Aeneas was healed and Tabitha was raised from the dead. Let God heal you from your sins and raise you from spiritual death. Be baptized for the forgiveness of sins to have God work His miracle on you.