Defending God’s Grace

The Jewish Christians actually contended with Peter because they had heard about his visit to the Gentile Cornelius and how he and his household had received the Word of God.

It seems that the prejudice against the Gentiles was still there and the separation between them and the Jews.  Peter knew that the apostles and other believers would object to what he did so he rehearsed what he was going to say to them.  Verse 4 in the King James Bible version states:  But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them.

Peter recounted in great detail what happened in the city of Joppa and concluded with these words, “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (verse 17).

His audience came to the same conclusion–that God did not play favorites and anyone whether Jew or Gentile who feared Him and did what was right in His sight was acceptable to Him.  So they glorified God saying, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (verse 18).

Are we guilty of exclusivity?  Do we contend with other church members when they go and associate with the unchurched for the sake of the Gospel?  Do we forget that God meant for His Word to be shared with everyone?  Do we forget that God wants everyone to be saved?  Do we forget that God sees the heart?  Cornelius’ heart was in the right place.  “He was walking in the strict accordance with all the light he had received” (Ellen G. White, Conflict and Courage, page 334).  God wanted this god-fearing man to receive greater light–the Light of the World, the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ so He sent Peter.

God used my soul-mate’s grandmother to lead him to Him and He used a close friend of mine to lead me.  Ellen G. White sums up the whole point of the story of Cornelius in these words, “God will lead everyone who is willing to be led.  He led Cornelius.”  As long as there are people in the world who want to be led to the light, it is our duty to let God use us as He used Peter.  We must set aside our prejudices and focus instead on winning more souls for Christ.  We should carry the banner of God which proclaims, “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).

The stories of Cornelius and Jonah drive home the fact that we don’t get to decide who gets saved–only God does.  And for this, I am very thankful.  I came across this wonderful quote which I think is God’s reminder for us–


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