Shelby G. Floyd
CORNELIUS THE CENTURION
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 person morally 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).
CORNELIUS A JUST MAN
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).
CORNELIUS NOT A SAVED MAN
If you were to ask people today if that man were 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).
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 (Acts 10:47-48 NIV). Back in the beginning when the church was first established, Peter said baptism was for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). And now with the Gentiles he orders the same command.
CORNELIUS WAS A BELIEVING BAPTIZED MAN
It is interesting that the last thing that Peter said before his sermon was interrupted was about faith: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43 NKJV). But the first thing Peter said after the interruption ceased was a command to be baptized:
““Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days” (Acts 10:47-48).
Therefore, no one can be saved just because they are a good person for all have sinned: “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin” Romans 3:9). Even good people are sinners in some form or fashion. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Acts 3:10).
Copyright © 2016 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142