There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
- Acts 10:1-2
As you celebrate our nation's independence tomorrow, let's give adequate thought to our dependence on the One who made this nation great. Watch my short video clip.
In Acts 10, we are introduced to Cornelius, a Roman centurion living in Caesarea. As a military man, he would swear allegiance to Caesar not only as his leader, but also as his deity, which was required. But Cornelius did not go the way of other Romans. He was exposed to the faith of the Jewish people and was drawn to it. So Cornelius began to call not on the gods of Rome, but on the God-singular-of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He wanted to know this God.
God heard the prayers of this pagan man and sent an angel to him, who told Cornelius that he needed to talk with someone named Simon Peter. Then the Lord directed Simon Peter to go to the house of Cornelius and share the gospel with him, which Peter did. The result was that Cornelius believed.
As I have said before, there will be surprises when we get to heaven. One of them will be that some of the people whom we never thought would be there will be there.
The gospel is universal in scope. It isn't for one group or one race or one nation. It is for everyone. That is why Jesus tells us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
C. S. Lewis said, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell."
God wants to save people. It is His heart to bring people to faith. He will more than reach out to them. He will more than reach them halfway.