And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, “Send men to Joppa and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.” (Acts 11:13-14)
Salvation Came To The House Of Cornelius
Caesarea was located between Joppa and Dora on the coast of Palestine. Its unique place along the coast afforded a large protected harbor and became a great city of commerce. The city was the official residence of the Roman Governors with such men as Felix and Festus who presided over the trials of Paul and was also the military headquarters of the province. In the early days of the church, Peter was brought to Caesarea to meet a Roman Centurion who had been told by an angel to send for the apostle so that Peter could speak words to them. Obedient to the heavenly vision and instructions of the six men from the house of Cornelius, Peter came to see Cornelius and impart whatever words would exhort and encourage these Gentile prospects. His meeting with Cornelius would change the world.
When Peter arrived at the home of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion fell at his feet and worshiped him. Forbidding this, the apostle exhorted the soldier to rise as they were equals as men. Peter inquired why he had been called and Cornelius related the visit of the angel and the instructions for Peter to be sent for. The angel told Cornelius that when Peter arrived he would speak to them telling them how they and everyone in the household could be saved. Complying with the vision of the Lord, Cornelius gathered his family and others together to hear the message of Peter given to him by the Lord. Following the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Peter baptized Cornelius and his household in water in the name of the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins. The Gentiles had now received the blessing of salvation and Cornelius was the example of God’s grace to all men – Jew and Gentile.
Salvation came through many avenues of the divine working of God through the agency of men and the acceptance of truth in honest hearts. Cornelius was a devout, God-fearing man, as was everyone in his household but they were not saved. He gave generously to the poor and prayed regularly to God but he was not saved. What Cornelius needed was the word of God spoken to him so that he can come to the knowledge of truth through the grace of God. Peter was chosen to go to Caesarea and speak words of salvation to those gathered and through the divine providence of mercy; salvation came to the house of Cornelius. Paul reminds the Roman saints that faith came from hearing the word of God. Salvation is not simply a feeling or response to some stimuli that brings joy to the heart. Knowledge is the conduit of truth and without the word of God, there can be no understanding of the will of the Lord.
Peter explained to the church in Jerusalem how Cornelius and his household were saved. The good works of Cornelius did not save him. When the angel came to the Roman Centurion he could have told him what to do to be saved but that was not his task. The angel did not save Cornelius. After Peter’s arrival and the apostle began to tell those gathered the wonderful news of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit was poured forth upon all those who heard the word. The baptism of the Holy Spirit did not save them. Those who came with Peter were astonished the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given to the Gentiles. At this point, Cornelius and his household were not saved. Peter, recognizing the divine meaning of the vision he had experienced in Joppa, implored those gathered to be baptized in water. Cornelius and his household were baptized in water for the remission of their sins. Now they were saved.
There were many parts to the conversion of Cornelius and his household but it culminated when Peter came and spoke words to them by which they were saved from their sins. The pattern of salvation has remained unchanged since that day of joy in Caesarea. Doing good deeds will not save a man and being very religious will not save. Knowing what to do to be saved cannot save until the heart moves to obedience. Cornelius became a child of God when he entered the waters of baptism. It is that moment the grace, mercy, and love of God wash sins completely away. Responding to the words of the gospel of Christ, salvation comes. Heed the words of God today. Obey the Word.