“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius!’ And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, ‘What is it, lord?’ So he said to him, ‘Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.’” (Acts 10.1-6).
The time is past in which Calvinists openly identified themselves. Now Calvinism is well hidden away in denominational dogma as well as Bible translation issues. The text cited above is from the Bible. It quotes the words of an angel as he was speaking to Cornelius. Cornelius was, exactly what the text says, “a devout [godly] man,” yet something was lacking in his spiritual affairs. That, in fact, was why the angel miraculously appeared to him, i.e., to provide a means by which that which Cornelius lacked could be achieved. It so happens that Cornelius was a Gentile and not a Jew. This means that Cornelius was the first Gentile (excluding Samaritans of course) to whom specific instructions were given as regards eternal salvation through Jesus Christ
The significance of the words what you must do is the focus just here. The lack was not on the part of Jesus or the godhead; everything that was needed for the plan of salvation to be complete and operative had been done on the Divine side! All that lacked was on the human side. There was a lack on the part of the Jews in taking the gospel to the Gentiles, but this was not the fault of Cornelius. However, there was a resultant lack on the part of Cornelius (specifically) and the Gentiles (generally). If the gospel in its fullness had never been declared to the Gentiles then it takes very little reasoning power to deduce that if any Gentile was to be saved by the blood of Jesus, there had to be a starting point; someone had to be first!
Cornelius was that man! It is also clear that the blood of Jesus had not been applied to the sins of Cornelius prior to His even knowing about Jesus as His redeemer. However, that is what Calvinism holds. It teaches that God determined from eternity who would be saved and lost and so fixed that number that nothing that we do or don’t do on the human side can in any way alter or change the eternal destiny of even one soul! Not to appear smug, but if Calvinism is truth, the angel was not aware of it! He thought that Cornelius had to do something to have the blood of Jesus applied to his sin debt! Furthermore, since the angel, by definition, was but an emissary charged with delivering a message from heaven to earth, the power behind the angel (God) was not aware that Calvinism was true! The force of the words what you must do erases all possibility that man can be saved without doing something (as Calvin taught was the case).
This text, if we have reasoned correctly about it, means that there are works involved in salvation, works that man must do! While it may be unsavory to believe such, it is still the case that the bible teaches there is something we must do to be saved. Some say all we have to do is believe. Others add repent. Still the Bible adds baptism. My question is this, if man must do anything at all to be saved, who determines what that thing is? Further, whether it is one thing, two things or three things, how can that equal doing nothing? Elementary reasoning mandates that doing something cannot equal doing nothing!
1. Does your translation have today’s focus phrase in it? Is it a part of the Bible?
2. Choose: The angel appeared to Cornelius to (A) Save him (B) Announce to him the plan of salvation, or (C) Tell him how he could meet someone who could tell him the plan of salvation
3. Compare today’s text with Acts 9.6. What are the similarities? Who finally told Saul (Paul) what he had to do?
4. Does the fact that man must do something to be saved mean that our salvation is works based? Why or why not? What if the works that we must do are defined by God and not man? Does that alter your answer?
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