By Michael Youssef, Ph D. 09/01/20
Many Christians desire to see a great harvest of souls, but the idea of doing the hard work of evangelism can seem daunting. So many sin barriers, cultural barriers, and faith barriers stand in the way, and we can be at a loss for how to act. But in Acts 10, we are reminded that God is the one who breaks through these barriers to spread the Gospel to every corner of the world. And what He did then, recorded in Acts, He can do today. In fact, He’s doing it right now.
Cornelius was a Roman centurion; he had 100 men reporting to him. He had heard of Yahweh, God of the Jews, and respected Him enough to donate to the church. Still, Cornelius was not a committed believer. That changed one afternoon when an angel of the Lord appeared to Cornelius saying, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter” (Acts 10:4-5). God was preparing Cornelius’ heart for a life-changing message, and Cornelius obeyed.
While God was moving in Cornelius’s life, He was also preparing Peter’s heart to witness to Cornelius. God had to change Peter’s view of Romans and all Gentiles—a belief system developed over a lifetime of teaching from his parents and his community. God effectively transformed Peter’s thinking through a vision.
In this vision, God showed Peter food that Jews had always considered as unclean in order to make an analogy to the Gentiles, people who were considered even more unclean. No Jew would ever have invited a Gentile into his house nor entered a Gentile home. Yet, in Acts 10:15, the voice in the vision said to Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” So, at the direction of the Holy Spirit, Peter soon found himself traveling to Cornelius’ home—a Gentile’s home.
And as Peter shared the Gospel message with those Cornelius had gathered at his house, Acts tells us “the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message” (Acts 10:44), and many were saved and baptized.
When we consider the harvest, we often think, “If only I had the key to unlock people’s spiritual blindness. If only I had the right words or knowledge or experience, I could bring them to Christ.” But Acts teaches us that God is the one who converts people to Christ. All that is required of us is faithfulness to the mission—willingness to serve, speak, be available, and obey. God provides the might for the mission. God will do the rest.
Prayer: Father, thank You for reminding me that You are the one who saves. Please help me to trust in You as I share Your love and Truth with others. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen
“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron” (Isaiah 45:2).