Pastor James J. Barker

Text: ACTS 10:1-6


1.     I like to hear people give their testimony – how God saved them.

2.     I like to read about the conversions of famous Christians – e.g., John Bunyan, DL Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, et al.

3.     The book of Acts is a book of conversions.  Some of my favorite passages are the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, the conversion of the Philippian jailer, and of course the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

4.     Another important conversion is the conversion of Cornelius, the first notable Gentile conversion.  His conversion covers all of Acts 10 (48 verses) and it is repeated again in Acts 11:1-18.

5.     Then it is summarized again in Acts 15:7-14.  This indicates that it was a very important event in the history of the early church.

6.     Why was it so significant?  Well, for one thing it broke down the great barrier between Jew and Gentile (10:34, 35).  The apostle Paul elaborates on this in Ephesians 2:11-22.

7.     Another great lesson we find here is God’s unmistakable guidance and providence in preparing souls for salvation.



1.     Too many people equate being religious with being saved.  But most religious people are not saved. In fact, there are millions of religious people in hell right now (cf. Matt. 7:21-23).

2.     Years ago I was invited to a “focus group.”  I didn’t even know what a focus group was but I thought I’d go and check it out. There were about a dozen so-called “clergy-persons” there, but most of them were not saved. 

3.     After the meeting ended a rabbi rebuked me publicly in front of everyone.  I waited till we were alone and I tried to reason with him, but he was obstinate.  He was deeply offended that I believed only those that trust in Christ are going to heaven (John 14:6).

4.     What about Cornelius?  Acts 10:1 tells us he was a Roman centurion, i.e., a commander of 100 men (from the Latin word centurio).

5.     The “Italian band” was a group of Roman soldiers recruited in Italy.  Now let us consider how Cornelius was religious, but lost.

(a)  He was a “devout man” (10:2).  He recognized God; he acknowledged God; and in his own way he was seeking after God.

(b) Jeremiah 29:13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

(c) One day our Lord said to a certain scribe, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).  Cornelius was not far from the kingdom of God.

(d) Maybe there is someone like Cornelius here this morning.  You believe in God.  You are religious.  You believe the Bible is the Word of God.  But yet you are still not saved.  Today you can get saved, just like Cornelius got saved.

(e)  Notice also that Cornelius was a God-fearing man (10:2).  There was a day here in America when it was a supreme compliment for some one to say, “He is a God-fearing man.”  But not today.

(f)   Cornelius was a God-fearing man.  He was not an atheist.  He was not an agnostic.  He was not an infidel.  He was not a mocker or a scorner.  He was not a member of the ACLU.

(g) But he still was not saved (cf. Acts 11:11-14).

(h) Cornelius was a good family man – He “feared God with all his house” (10:2).  He led his family the best he knew how.  He taught them to fear God.  He taught them to pray.  He taught them to respect God’s people.  I hate to say it but I know some unsaved fathers that do a better job than some so-called Christian dads.  Cornelius “feared God with all his house.”

(i)    Cornelius was a good giver – Acts 10:2 says he “gave much alms to the people…” Some heathens are more generous than some Christians.  I say that to your shame.  Some Christians are cheapskates.  They can squeeze a penny so hard that President Lincoln will start crying.  But Cornelius gave away “much” money (10:2).

(j)    Cornelius “prayed to God always” (10:2).  He prayed regularly – always.  He fasted too (Acts 10:30).  Some Christians never fast, but Cornelius fasted.

(k) Cornelius had a good reputation among the Jewish people (10:22).  Though he was a Gentile, he respected the Jews and got along with them. 

6.     Cornelius was a religious man.  Evidently he was a very sincere man.  He was a man of character.  But he still was not saved.

7.     Cornelius was living up to the light he had, but that was not enough to get to heaven.  Since he responded to the light he had, God gave him more light.

8.     If you read this story carefully you will see that God was working behind the scenes to save his soul.  Here we see God’s providence, God’s grace, God’s guidance, and God’s intervention (10:3-6).

9.     In fact we see God intervening in the lives of people all throughout the Bible (cf. Acts 16:14).

10. Illustration: satellite repairman whose father died.



1.     Cornelius obeyed God.  He responded to the light God gave him, and then God gave him more light.

2.     God gives every one a certain amount of light.  Speaking of Jesus, John 1:9 says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

3.     When we respond to God’s light, He gives more light.  But when sinners withdraw from the light they go deeper into darkness.



1.     God not only supernaturally directed Cornelius, but Peter as well.  Peter was a Jew and had an aversion to Gentiles and their diet, which he considered “common and unclean” (10:9-16; cf. Lev. 11).

2.     Back in those days, Christians went into the synagogues and preached the Gospel to the Jews but they had little interest in reaching the Gentiles.

3.     Yet our Lord said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15, 16).

4.     And, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19).

5.     The Gentiles were being ignored and it took divine intervention to change that.  This is why the conversion of Cornelius was so important.  It changed the course of history.

6.     By showing Peter that the Jewish diet restrictions were no longer valid in this dispensation of grace, God broke down the barriers of prejudice and made it easier to reach the heathen with the Gospel (Acts 10:28).



1.     Once again, we see the direct intervention of God in the conversion of Cornelius (10:17-23, esp. vss. 19 & 20).

2.     Someone has said, “There are wheels within wheels in Divine Providence” (Scroggie, Acts of the Apostles).

3.     Peter (and “certain brethren from Joppa” – six according to 11:12) obeyed the Lord and went to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea (10:23, 24).

4.     Mark verse 24, “And Cornelius waited for them...” Christian friend, perhaps there is some Cornelius waiting for you to bring him the Good News that Jesus died for his sins, that Jesus rose from the dead, that Jesus loves him, and that Jesus will save him if he turns from his sin and believes in Him.

5.     Many times I have knocked on some sinner’s door and they told me, “I am so glad you came.  I have been very despondent.  I was wondering if God cared about me.”

6.     Notice also in verse 24, “And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends.”   Cornelius wanted his relatives and friends to get saved too (10:24-27).

7.     By the way, Peter was no pope (10:25, 26).

8.     It was the hand of God that brought them together in Cornelius’ house that day (10:27-33).

9.     At Cornelius’ invitation, Peter preached the Gospel to Cornelius and his friends and relatives (10:34-43).

10. Cornelius and his group were saved, and soon baptized (10:44-48).

11. The gift of tongues was given to Cornelius and co. (10:46), but never in the Bible is it said that speaking in tongues is the evidence of the Holy Spirit (cf. 4:8, 31).

12. The importance of Cornelius’ conversion is noted in chapter 11.  Some Jews were unhappy with it (11:1-3).

13. But Peter stressed that this was God’s plan (11:4—17, especially verse 17), and that these Gentiles were genuinely saved (11:14).

14. After Peter explained what happened, “they held their peace and glorified God” (11:18).



1.     Paul Rader was a well-known preacher 100 years ago.

2.     He had many talks with a certain banker but this banker would reply that he was too busy for religion. Time passed and the banker, seriously overworked, was sent to a sanatorium for complete rest.

3.     One day God spoke to Paul Rader; the message was clear: “Go and speak to that banker.”  Paul Rader obeyed.  He caught a train and was soon on his way to the sanatorium.

4.     Arriving at the facility, Rader saw the banker standing in the doorway. “Oh, Pastor Rader,” said the banker, “I am so glad to see you.”

5.     “I received your telegram,” said Rader. “No. That's impossible,” said the banker. “I wrote a telegram begging you to come, but I tore it up. I didn't sent it.”  “That may be,” said Rader, “but your message came by way of Heaven.”

6.     Paul Rader found the man under deep conviction of sin and he pointed him to Christ as a perfect Saviour. The banker accepted Christ and his heart was filled with joy. “Brother Rader,” he said, “did you ever see the sky so blue or the grass so green?”

7.     Paul Rader smiled and started to softly sing an appropriate hymn, when suddenly the banker leaned over and dropped dead.

8.     Perhaps God is sending you an urgent message.  It would be wise to respond while you still have time!


| Customized by Jun Gapuz |