Shelby G. Floyd
One of the most interesting characters in the book of Acts is Cornelius the centurion, on occupation in Palestine on behalf of the Roman government. You could hardly find a better moral person either in or out of the church. Luke gives this description of the character of Cornelius: “A devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God” (Acts 10:2 ESV). The men who were sent down to invite Peter back to his house further described Cornelius as “a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews” (Acts 10.22 NKJV).
Peter “Will Tell You What You Must Do”
If you were to ask people today if a man like Cornelius was saved, they would probably reply yes. But that is not what the Bible teaches. Even though Cornelius was a good man and highly respected among the people, he still needed to hear words whereby he and his family could be saved. The angel of the Lord gave Cornelius this command: “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: 5-6 NKJV). My uncle O. B. Perkins, preacher of the gospel for over 60 years, said that his dad was a “tanner,” because he tanned his hide many times!
They Were Commanded To Be Baptized
After having presented the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter commanded Cornelius and those present, to be baptized in the name of the Lord:
Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days (Acts 10:47-48).
In the beginning of the church and the preaching of the gospel, Peter commanded baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Good People Must Obey the Gospel Also
Even people like Cornelius, who already have a good character, need to hear and obey the gospel. We are not saved by our goodness. All have sinned. There is no one who has not or does not sin Romans 3:10, 23). We are saved by the grace of God and an obedient faith (Ephesians 2:8-10; Hebrews 5:8-9). But God wants all saved people to develop the good character displayed by Cornelius. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Copyright © 2014 Shelby Floyd All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd