Acts 10 Lesson

Fear God And Keep His Commandments

CORNELIUS OBEYS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

Acts Chapter 10 is a fascinating chapter. It tells the story of Cornelius and Peter, two people from very different backgrounds who shared a common love for the Lord. And while their backgrounds were different, their obedience to God was the same.

Cornelius was a centurion soldier. The term “centurion” means that Cornelius oversaw one hundred soldiers. He was in a position of power and would have been accustomed to people obeying his orders. Luke tells us that Cornelius was visited by an angel of the Lord in the middle of the day, about the ninth hour (3:00 PM). Cornelius was given specific instructions, and he obeyed them. The Angel told him to:

  • “Dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.” – Acts 10:5-6.

PETER OBEYS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

Peter was also visited by an Angel. His visit happened while he was on a rooftop praying. A voice came to Peter and said:

  • “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” – Acts 10:13.

The message that Peter received was one that went against what he was accustomed to. As a devout Jew, Peter would not have eaten anything that was considered unclean. That is why he responded:

  • “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” - Acts 10:14.

Peter did not realize at the time what the Angel was telling him. The command that he received was not talking about the food that he put in his body. The Angel of the Lord was talking about Jews and Gentiles, and how God loves both.

The Angel responded to Peter:

  • “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” - Acts 10:15.

This was God giving His approval to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, as well as the Jews. And to his credit, Peter would obey the command that he was given.

PETER PREACHED TO THE GENTILES

Peter met with the messengers that Cornelius had sent to him, and the next day he traveled to Caesarea where he would preach to the Gentiles. Peter acknowledged the direction that he had been given, and shared with the Gentiles the reason that he came to Caesarea:

  • “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for.” – Acts 10:28-29

GOD’S MESSAGE IS FOR ALL PEOPLE

So what are we supposed to learn from these scriptures and the story of Peter and Cornelius?

There are four takeaways that we will highlight in our lesson today:

  1. God does not care where we are from,
  2. God does not care what we look like,
  3. Peter and Cornelius were obedient to the message they received from God,
  4. God does not show partiality. “In every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” – Acts 10:34-35.

As we read the four bullet points above, notice what is important to God:

  1. That we fear Him and give Him the respect that He deserves,
  2. That we do what is right.

These are the same two points that Solomon made at the end of Ecclesiastes:

  • “The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.   For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

That is our role as Christians and children of God, to fear Him and to keep His commandments. We will now expand on these two important commands.

FEARING GOD 

Are we really supposed to be afraid of God?

The short answer is yes.   Today, many people seem to have adopted the point of view that God is our friend and not to be feared.   This way of thinking is dangerous and in complete disagreement with the scriptures.  Consider the following two verses:

  • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” - Proverbs 1:7,
  • “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” - Mathew 10:28,

God wants us to love Him.   The Bible tells us that loving God is the most important commandment (Mathew 22:34-40).   We must also understand the power of God and the judgment that awaits us all.   Just as our desire to get to Heaven can motivate us to follow God’s commandments, fear of His judgment should also motivate us.   Consider the following two scriptures:

  1. “And just as it is destined for people to die once, and after this comes judgment.” – Hebrews 9:27,
  2. " Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.   For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Mathew 7:13-14.

God loves us and wants us all to come to repentanceand to be saved. That is why He uses both the “carrot” and the “stick” to motivate our behavior.

  • “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9.

DOING WHAT IS RIGHT

Returning to our scripture from earlier in the lesson, we see that:

  • “God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation, the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” – Acts 10:34-35

This scripture begs the question, “How do we know what is right?”   Do we simply follow our gut and do what “feels right?”  Not according to the book of Proverbs, which warns us that:

  • “There is a way that  seems  right to a man, but its end  is the way of death.” - Proverbs 14:12.

Knowing that we cannot always trust our gut, we need to be clear on where Christians should derive our sense of right and wrong from. For Christians, there is only one source to determine right from wrong and that is the Bible.

Consider the following scripture:

  • “All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

The bottom line is this, if we want to please God, we must do things His way, not our way.  

CONCLUSION

Acts Chapter 10 is another point in the Bible that reminds us that as Christians we are to fear God and keep His commandments.

Solomon wrote about this in the Book of Ecclesiastes,

  • “The conclusion, when everything has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.   For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

The stories of Peter and Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10 show us how people from different backgrounds can be united over these two commandments because they are what matters most to God.

When we fear God and keep His commandments, we bring glory to God, and that is why we are here. As Christians, our time on earth is to be spent doing two things:

  • Glorifying God,
  • Serving others.

We will end today’s lesson with a quote from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy. These are the same words that we hope to be able to say when our time on earth is done:

  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” - 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

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Virtual Bible Study

1) What did today’s Bible study make you think and feel?
2) How can you apply what you have just learned to something specific that is happening in your life?

***PLEASE POST YOUR QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS HERE***

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