We are all here present . . .
One of the most dramatic occasions of people, in the New Testament, showing their interest in hearing the truth is found in the example of Cornelius’ household recorded in Acts 10. As you will recall, Cornelius, a gentile centurion in the Roman army, had received a vision from an angel telling him to send to Joppa for a man named Simon Peter. He immediately sent for Peter who had also received visions to indicate to him that he “should not call any man unholy or unclean” (Acts 10:28). Therefore, when Cornelius’ men arrived Peter went with them in spite of Cornelius being a gentile. When they arrived at Cornelius’ home in Caesarea, they each related their visions with Cornelius finishing his remarks with these words:
So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord. (Acts 10:33).
Surely such an attitude by the first gentiles to hear the gospel was an indication that they were among those “who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).
My hope is that during our gospel meeting this week we will all display the same appetite for spiritual things and the same dedication to the preaching of the gospel. Notice what Cornelius and his household did in preparation to hear the Lord’s Word as indicated in Acts 10:33.
- “So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come.” They appreciated the effort of Peter to come and preach to them. We should also be thankful to the Halls for coming to Bowling Green so he could preach for us. We ought never to be less dedicated to a gospel meeting than the preacher we have asked to come. In this case, the Halls have gone to the trouble of traveling away from home, sleeping in strange beds, interrupting their normal routine, and suspending the good work they could do back home, all so that they could render us the kindness of helping us in our gospel efforts here. The least we can do is support that effort with our attendance and our prayers.
- “Now then, we are all here present . . .” Not only did Cornelius attend the meeting with Peter, but he also called “his relatives and close friends” (Acts 10:24) to hear the gospel as well. This group amounted to “many people assembled” (Acts 10:27) and indicated both Cornelius’ interest in the Truth and also his interest in the souls of his friends and relatives. Given the opportunity we have this week to hear the gospel preached by a capable evangelist, what kind of interest have we shown in the Truth and the souls of our neighbors by our efforts to include them in this series of Bible studies? By our efforts do we have reason to expect “many people assembled”?
- “before God . . .” Cornelius knew God was the moving force behind both his sending for Peter and Peter’s coming to preach to him. Therefore, he had a profound sense of God’s hand in the preaching and the hearing of the gospel message. I have every reason to believe that God is behind our efforts this week in the faithful gospel preacher we have to speak for us, the prayerful planning that has gone into this effort by our godly elders, and the sincere efforts of devout brethren to attend and encourage others to do so. My prayer is that we will all recognize that God is watching our actions this week in reference to this meeting. Will he be pleased or disappointed in our enthusiasm and participation in it?
- “to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” I have no idea what Cornelius may have heard about the gospel up to this time. I do know, however, that he was devout, God fearing, benevolent, and prayerful (Acts 10:2) and that this statement in verse 33 was consistent with his godly character. No effort was made to negotiate with God’s servant, Peter. No indication is given of a desire to wait and see how demanding God’s message might be of him before he determined to obey it. No hint of an attitude is given to pick and choose what he might like in the message preached. Whatever Peter had been commanded by the Lord to speak, Cornelius and his household were interested in hearing with an attitude toward full obedience. They wanted the Truth in its entirety. No watering it down to make it more palatable. No adding of sweets or bitters to make it conform to one’s taste. Instead they wanted the pure, simple gospel clearly preached so that they could know God’s will and conform their will’s to it. Many today cannot stand the gospel given full strength but only like it if it conforms to their current practice. May we, like Cornelius and his friends, have the stomach for God’s Word and desire to hear all we have been “commanded by the Lord” with a sincere desire for obedience and change. I am certain Brother Hall will do his part in dispensing God’s undiluted Word this week. I pray that we all have the desire to hear and act on it.