From Religious Devotion to Saving Relationship – Acts 10:1-2

12 June, 2022

Book: Acts

From Religious Practice to a Saving Relationship


  • Five weeks ago, we saw: beginning of the story of Cornelius
  • We saw how God was clearly at work in his life…
  • We saw how he was responding to God’s working to the Light God had given him and how his response was a challenge to us, as to how we were responding to the far greater light that we’ve rec’d.
  • He had come into contact with the Jews in Caesarea
  • He’d begun to practice a religious devotion to what he understood
  • But Cornelius’ religious devotion & practice could not save him any more than it could save the Jews, the Pharisees and Sadducees, etc., under whose influence he had come.

{One} He had not yet attained that Salvation which is available to all


Vs.2, Cornelius was a Devout man, meaning He was Pious, Religious

  • His was a Devotion was exercised thru Religious Duty & Practice
  • In 17:23, Luke uses the same Greek wd. for Devout, in our text, in recounting Paul’s speech to the Corinthians.
  • In that context, it describes their Worship in Ignorance,
  • Cornelius’s Devotion, was a legalistic striving to earn God’s favour thru religious duties and practices
  • But Religious Duty alone, cannot earn us favour with God


Vs.2 again, we see that Cornelius was Devout in his God-Fearing

  • Cornelius had a Reverence and a Respect for God
  • But it was Reverence & Respect apart from a relationship w/ God
    • It was fear of God, from a distance
    • It was fear of God, without God’s acceptance
    • It was a fear without the joy and confidence of knowing God’s adoption love for him, as His Child.
  • Reverence/Respect for God apart fr Faith in God, cannot save us


Vs.2, Cornelius was Faithful in Prayer

  • But the Religious Practice of Prayer Cannot save us Unless that prayer is offered, by Faith, based on an accepted sacrifice that provides atonement for our sin, and reconciles us into a relationship w/ God.
  • Cornelius was devoted in his prayer, but he was still not saved
  • You may be tempted to interrupt and ask: How do we know for sure he wasn’t saved? Some have suggested that he was saved…
  • In my earlier study, I was tempted to think: perhaps he was
  • But, in 11:14, the angel is reported, by Peter, to have told Cornelius to send for Peter who will come & speak words by which you will be saved – Prior to Peter’s preach., he was not yet saved!


Notice again in Vs.2, Cornelius was Generous to the Poor, Needy

  • As wonderful a practice as giving to the poor is,
  • Outside of a faith-relation. w/ God, it earns us nothing w/ Him
  • In regard to all sorts of religious devotion and practice, God says thru Isaiah, in64, vs.6 all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags… and Heb.11:6, tells us: w/o Faith in God it’s impossible to please God


Cornelius, as we said five weeks ago, was responding to God’s working

  • His devoted, religious practice of Prayer and Alms-giving were steps in the journey God was bringing him on, towards faith
  • His prayers and alms had arisen before God as a memorial
  • God was pleased with his response so far, but there must still be that final step of realising that salvation can never be attained by good works, but only by faith in God.
  • Cornelius must yet humble himself to receive salvation from a Roman-crucified Jewish carpenter & rabbi… we’ll see it shortly.


So, What about our day-age?

  • In our day-age, Religious Devotion is doing things like:
  • Regularly Attending a place of worship, apart from faith in God
  • Reading Scripture,             – Listening to Sermons
  • Praying Diligently – Reading Good Christian books…
  • Going on Pilgrimages – Giving money to the poor
  • Depriving ourselves of foods-drinks to achieve some higher level of spirituality, or state of mind….
  • Never using alcohol, or tobacco, or caffeine, or certain foods
  • Helping poor and needy people inside/outside the church.


  • And there is Nothing’s Wrong with most of those Actions!
  • Just as Cornelius’ Activities are all perfectly good,
  • Most of those actions-prohibitions are perfectly good, But Only…
  • Only when they are the Outworking, the Expression of a Faith- Relationship with God, by His Grace, thru our faith.
  • But when they’re Only Relig. Practices, w/o exercise of Faith
  • then there’s a Great Danger attached to them


  • Becoz the enemy of our souls loves to keep people just outside of the truth, while having them look like, and deceived into thinking: they’re living in agreement with God’s truth.
  • I heard of a survey, conducted recently, in America that asked:
  • “will you go to heaven when you die?”
  • A majority answered: “they believed they would go to heaven”
  • When asked: “on what basis would they go?”, another majority answered with statements similar to these ones:
    • “My good deeds outweigh my bad”,
    • “I’ve lived by the Golden rule, or the Ten commandments”
    • “I’ve always gone to church,”
    • “I regularly give money to help the poor”
    • “I’m not as bad as so many others”
    • “I’ve never lied, cheated, or stolen anything”
    • “I’ve never been convicted of a crime…”
    • And so on…..
  • In every case, they were either comparing themselves to their own standards, or other’s standards, But Not to God’s.


  • If your answer to the quest of:
  • “why should God allow you into heaven” begins with:
    • I’ve done this, that or the other thing…. Or
    • I’ve always tried to…. Or
    • I’m not as bad as many others…
  • Then, based on the Authority of the Bible, I must tell you:
  • You have no genuine hope of entry into heaven!
  • But if your answer is: “Christ!”  and Christ alone!”
    • Christ died for me; I’m trusting fully in Him to save me…..
  • Then, you have the Bible’s re-assurance of salvation into heaven.


Even if we could live an utterly sinless, perfect life, of Devotion

  • we still wouldn’t be Saved and have a relationship w/ God.
  • It’s Becoz of the fundamental reality of our Sin Nature
  • We’re all born w/ a Sin Nature,
  • We Inherited it fr. Adam & Eve,
  • Or, in a better understanding of it:
    • Our Sin Nature was Applied to us, by God, as a result of Adam & Eve’s first sin in the garden.
    • We were “in Adam” when he sinned & so we inherit the same Sin Nature that he inherited.
  • Our Sin Nature drives each of us to Love & commit sin.
  • It affects every human-being ever conceived, in their entirety.
  • Our Reason, our Will, our Affections, our Bodies are all affected, and corrupted, by our Sin Nature.
  • And, the Guilt of that Sin Nature can only be removed through the work of Christ on the cross, received by faith in God.
  • No amount of Religious Devotion can remove that Sin Nature.
  • No amount of Religious Devotion-Practice can remove the guilt of the sins we’ve committed – Only Christ can wash it away.


My Friends,

  • Beware if you think that your Faithfulness to Religious Practices makes you Acceptable to God… it is a pathway to Destruction!

Beloved, Bros & Sis in Christ

  • Let’s Be absolutely sure that our Devotion to God flows from faith in God and not, as a substitute for it


  • Let’s Take time! Let’s Examine our own hearts before the Lord,
  • Let’s Be sure that our Salvation is Solely
    • by God’s Grace, Alone,
    • thru Faith, Alone,
    • in Christ, Alone,


Cornelius was responding to the Light that God had given him

  • God Displayed Immense Grace toward Cornelius. He did it:
    • By Sending the Angel to him
    • By Commanding Cornelius to send for Peter
    • By Sending Peter to proclaim Christ to him & his friends
  • God was displaying His Grace to save him… and us fr. a religious devotion, into a living, faith-filled relationship thru Christ.


Well, lets consider 2ndly, Peter’s message to Cornelius of the Salvation Provided by God, in vss. 36-42

  • 36, Peter tells them: the message he’s about to proclaim is the same Message of Peace that God sent thru Jesus Christ…
  • Who is Lord of All, to the sons of Israel.
  • God’s Message thru Peter to Gentile follows the same Basic Elements as Peter’s sermon on Pentecost morning, back in Acts 2.
  • Notice the One, Who is Active in this work of Salvation:
  • It is God, who Anointed Jesus
    • God, who Accompanied Jesus
    • God, who Raised Jesus
    • God, who Appointed Jesus as Judge of Living & Dead.
    • God, who sent His witnesses to preach the gospel to us
  • This Salvation, and Our Saviour, are God’s Provision becoz there’s nothing we can do, to save ourselves.


Vs.38a, It is God who Anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit

  • Peter wants them/us to see the crucial reality of the H. Spirit’s Presence for Jesus’ work of Ministry & Salvation
  • It Displays God’s Sending & Empowering Him for his work.
  • In Luke 4:18, Jesus, Himself said: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed.
  • Not only was Jesus Christ truly man, & truly God,
  • He was filled with the Spirit of God, signifying….
    • God’s Authority over Him,
    • God’s Choosing Him to be His Servant, fulfilling Isaiah 42
    • God’s Empowering Him for all His Service
    • God’s Approval of all His service and…
    • His ministering on behalf of God to His people
    • 3:1, Jesus is God’s Apostle, Sent to Speak for God

Vs.38b, Jesus did good works & healing – as they already knew

  • 2:22, Peter preached Jesus, “a man attested/approved by God, with miracles, wonders and signs, which God did thru Him…”
  • No ordin. man could do: works Jesus did, becoz He is truly God, and sent by God…. Jesus said in John 5:36 “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.


Vs.38c, God Accompanied Jesus throughout His Ministry

  • The explan. for Jesus’ good works & healing: God was with Him
  • Peter wants them (and us) to know that Jesus was no Ordinary Travelling-Teaching-Preaching-Miracle-Working Rabbi
    • He was filled with the Spirit, and
    • He knew the presence/power of God thru-out His ministry


Vs.39, Disciples Themselves R Witnesses of all Jesus Works &… Death

  • They witnessed his Death, which was by Hanging on Cross
  • To the Romans: this is a Striking Point! A Stumbling Point!
  • The Roman’s Heroes were mighty men of great victories in Military and Political Wars
  • Julius Caesar, who died young at 46 yrs., was just such a hero.
    • A Gen., who never fought a war he didn’t win
    • He was a Statesman, a Law-Giver, an Orator, &
  • But Peter preaches to them that the Only Saviour for Sinners, was completely unlike any of their Heroes,
  • He was Crucified on a Roman Cross, between two thieves!!
  • That idea – Concept was the epitome of a cultural reversal
  • To the Romans: no condemned, crucified man could ever be considered worthy of Worship, Trust, Love, or Life-Commitment
  • To: Romans, crucifixion was reserved for slaves & foreigners
  • No Roman citizen could be crucified except 4 High Treason
  • Their writer-historian Cicero described crucifixion as
    • (quote) “that most cruel and disgusting penalty”
  • For the Romans to Accept & Believe Peter’s words, that this Jesus accomplished Salvation, for all mankind, by being Crucified, requires nothing short of a Divine Intervention, Humbling them to see their only hope was thru the Shame… & Glory of the Cross
  • Which, is Exactly what happened -es In their case and ours


Notice, in vs.39, Peter’s Implied Connection to the OT

  • Peter says they put Him to death by “Hanging Him on a Tree”
  • The Law said, in 21:23, anyone hanged on a tree was Cursed,
  • …and Paul picks up that idea and expounds it in: 3:13–14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—
  • 14 in order that, in Christ Jesus ,the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we (all of us) would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
  • Not only must we accept that Christ, the Saviour of Sinners was Crucified to save us, but that he was Cursed as He did it!


Why… Why must He be Crucified & Cursed? 

  • The Bible says, 5:21, He, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us, that we might become the Righteousn’ss of God in Him
  • He Redeemed-saved us by became a curse 4 us,
    • …so that we, would not have to be cursed, for our sin…
  • He Died under the Law’s Curse
    • to forever free us from that same curse
  • He Was hung upon a cross to endure God’s wrath,
    • to save us from the same wrath of God against us
  • He Died in shame & humiliation,
    • to end our shame & humiliation for our sin
  • He Endured Separation from God
    • to bring us, our Reconciliation to God
  • He Died, in your place…
    • that you might not have to suffer Eternal Death in Hell


But, Why??  Why did God do all this?

  • The answer is as profound as it is simple! – Love!

God’s Immense Love for His People!

  • Jesus:Love your Enemies & pray for those who persecute U”
  • And God did exactly that, 5:10 says: “while we were still enemies, we were reconciled to God, thru Christ” – that’s Love
  • 5:8, But God demonstrated His Love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
  • John 13:1, Jesus having Loved His own who were in the world, He Loved them-us, to the end…
  • 3:1, Behold, (Bro. & Sis.), what manner of Love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called: Children of God
  • This Love displayed by God, for His people, is unlike any love, that any human can either express or comprehend…
  • In fact, Paul prays for the Ephesians that they will be strengthened with power, thru His Spirit, in their inner man, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, and that they-we may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the Height, Length, Depth, Breadth – the Immensity of the Love of God, in Christ Jesus!
  • But, it didn’t end with the Crucifixion, as we know….


Notice, Vs.40, God Raised Jesus from the dead!

  • He had no sin in Him, so death had no hold on Him!
  • From the Depths of Shame & Humiliation on the cross
    • To the Heights of Glory & Honour & Victory!
  • God Raised Jesus from death…. So, How do we know?
  • 1) Multiple witnesses Saw that His Tomb was empty
    • The two Mary’s & Salome, then Peter & John
  • 2) The same witnesses Saw & Experienced Him Alive aft. Resurr.
    • Those faithful women,
    • and the Twelve Disciples,
    • and then 500 bros & sis, all together, at: same moment…
    • Last of all Paul saw Him on the road to Damascus
    • His friends touched Him, talked to Him & watched him eat
    • His followers saw Him ascending visibly into heaven,
  • 3) Those witnesses’ lives were dramatically & perman’tly changed
    • They endured horrific sufferings & violent deaths for all, but one of Jesus 12 Apostles.
    • They endured it for the truth of Jesus Christ: crucified, raised, exalted & returning!


  • God Raised Jesus fr. Dead & Permitted Him to be seen-witnessed
  • God Displayed Him to Be: Son-God w/ power, by His Resurrection
  • God Validated Our faith by His Resurrection
  • God Gave us the sure hope of our own Resurr. by Christ’s Resurr.


Notice, Vs.42, God Appointed Him as Judge

  • God has sent Christ to be Our Saviour
  • And, God is sending Him back, to Judge the Living & Dead…
    • to Save His Own and Condemn the Rest
  • Mark 13:24-27 tells us that after that Tribulation…
    • After the sun is darkened & the moon refuses to give light
    • The stars will be falling and the heavens shaken…
    • Then Jesus will come, in Clouds w/ Great Power, & Glory
  • 25:31-34 tells us He will gather all the Nations before Him
    • He will Judge – or Separate them – one from another,
    • as the Shepherd separates his sheep from the goats.
  • Those, who are His Own sheep, trusting in Him alone for salvation will be gathered to His Right hand, and be welcomed into the Kingdom Prepared for them fr before: foundation of the world


  • Those who’re the goats will be separated to His Left hand…
  • He will say to them: Depart from me, Accursed ones, into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels…
  • God has appointed Him to be the Judge of all mankind….


My Friends, Listen, Make no mistake,

  • Jesus will be Our Saviour & Judge – into Eternal Salvation


  • He will be Our Judge Alone, – to Eternal Condemnation in Hell.
  • As Saviour, He came to Save us and Reconcile us to God
    • He came to bring us together, to make the many into
    • One New Body, and One New man, never to be Separated


My Friends,  In whose hands are you resting?

  • Are U resting on Your own good works of Religious Devotion?
    • There’s No Hope Whatsoever!
  • Are U resting on Christ? In Him there’s Absolute & Certain Hope
  • Becoz God, in Christ, Forgives the sins of those who trust in Him!
  • That’s exactly Peter’s point in 43,
  • Faith in God will save you from God’s wrath
  • God Provided a Saviour:
    • Jesus Christ & Him Crucified & Raised
  • God provided a Salvation:
    • By Grace alone, thru Faith alone, in Christ alone,
      • we’re Forgiven of sin and
      • we’re Justified, meaning: Declared Righteous


  • So, How do we know that we’ve been saved – been forgiven?
  • I said some time ago, that for the Romans, to believe that a Crucified Jewish Carpenter is their only hope of a Saviour, and Salvation, would take an Intervention, By God…
  • It was, and is, the same for us,
  • God the Holy Spirit Intervenes, Opens the Eyes of our Hearts, and (Thirdly) He Applies that Salvation to us.


Notice in Vs.43-48

  • While Peter is still speaking… He is still in mid-sermon
  • God powerfully and dramatically works!
  • Remember: 10:17, Faith comes by hearing & hearing by the word of God – as they are listening – God is working!
  • God is opening their eyes to see the truth of Gospel
  • 16:14, tells us that God opens our hearts to respond
    • He Opens our heart,
    • He Changes our Inclinations,
  • 2:12-13, He Works in us, both to Will, to Do & Respond
  • The Spirit of God is doing that work in us
  • Paul in 1:13, tells us that after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of our salvation, having also believed, we were sealed in Christ, with the Holy Spirit of Promise.
  • In Eph.2:8 he tells us that Faith is a gift of God – given by Spirit


They Believed the message…

  • What does it mean To Believe?
  • Belief is the Intellectual Conviction of the truth of something
  • Belief happens in the heart, the very centre of person’s soul, that part of U that makes U…. You!
  • God does His work, in the heart,
    • We Hear the message of the Gospel truth
    • We Accept-Agree that it’s true, exactly as given in script.
      • We’re sinners bound to face eternity in hell
      • Jesus died, in our place to save us
      • Trusting Him, we’re Saved fr. wrath, sin, death, hell
    • And we Entrust ourselves entirely to Christ.
  • The result is that we are forgiven of sin, just as Peter says.
  • They Believed the Message! How do we know?

They received the Spirit of God


Acts 10:44, the Spirit fell on all those, who were listening to Msg.

  • We’re going to talk more about this next week, but notice…
  • For the Jews standing there, to hear the Gentiles speaking in tongues, was a dramatic moment of absolute clarity…
  • They knew this Gift was: Unmistakable mark: Spirit’s Presence
  • It demonstrated, to their amazement, that the Gentiles had received the same gift of Salvation and Indwelling Spirit as they had – there was no difference between them
  • They truly were Bros & Sis in Christ, without any distinction!


They Believed the Message, they Believed in Jesus

They Received the Spirit of God

They Exalted God with voice and later their works

They were Baptised in water….

We’re going to look at these next week, as part of the message from Acts 11:1-18….


Conclusion:  Beloved, Bros & Sis in Christ

  • Let’s Be absolutely sure that our Devotion to God flows from faith in God and not, as a substitute for it
  • Let’s Take time! Let’s Examine our own hearts before the Lord,
  • Let’s Be sure that our Salvation is Solely:
  • by God’s Grace Alone, thru Faith Alone, in Christ Alone,


My Friend, if you don’t yet know Christ as Saviour,

  • You’ve Heard the Message,
  • Believe the Truth,
  • Trust in God,
  • Turn away from Sin, and Know God’s Love & Forgiveness,
  • Receiving the Promised Holy Spirit as you do….
  • If you need help, or would like to pray with someone, please come and see Myself, or Pooven, or one of the Deacons, we’d love to help you….