Acts 10:34-44 34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached– 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen–by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
This has been an awesome month of outreach in the name of Jesus to touch people with God’s love. July may be my new favorite month at TVCOG. The youth who went on the mission trip and to IYC, you put yourselves, on purpose, in uncomfortable, unfamiliar territory in order to let people know God loved them and could save them. And you paid 900.00 to do that! How marvelous and wonderful that you took the “Word to the streets.”
To all of you who donated and baked and passed out flyers and loaded tables and chairs and tons of water and created flyers and shared flyers we put out on FB and gave of your time to serve and clean up and talk to people about the Lord and TVCOG, you took the “Word to the streets.”
I like that phrase “Word on the street” because it implies that something is sort of floating around. Something is going around. Some news is being passed on and people are talking about it. As believers, one of our main jobs is to take Jesus, the “Living Word” to the streets and to share the truth of the written Word of God as well everywhere we go.
That is what Jesus did. He walked around spreading “the Word,” literally sharing Himself. He just walked around doing good. Isn’t that cool? People who opposed Jesus and tried to trap Him never could, as hard as they tried, “catch Him doing bad” because He was always doing good. He was a “do-gooder.” Part of His good deeds involved the physical as He touched and healed people. Part of His good deeds involved the spiritual and emotional as He freed people from demonic oppression and possession.
Let me give you some back story for our text. Peter was talking to a Roman Army Officer named Cornelius in this passage. The story tells us that Cornelius was a godly man. He was reverent. He was prayerful. He was charitable and generous. But he hadn’t heard about Jesus yet.
An angel was sent to Cornelius who told him to go to Joppa to find a man named Simon Peter. During that time, Peter had a dream that prepared him to minister to Cornelius, this Gentile (non-Jewish) man.
So before I share my little sermonette with three quick points, let me reassure you that if your goal is to take the “Word to the Streets” God will get the people ready who need to be ready to receive Jesus and God will prepare you to be sensitive and wise and to say what you need to say. He sent an angel to Cornelius. He gave a dream and spoke by the Holy Spirit to Peter all in an effort to unite them so the “Word on the Street” could become the “Word in Cornelius’ Heart.”
As I thought about this idea of the “Word on the Street,” I thought, “What is it that people today most need to know about God and salvation?” If I could boil it down to the bare facts what would they be? If someone just gave me five minutes of their time what is it that they would need to understand in order to be able to make a decision for Christ? I found my answer in Peter’s words in our passage today.
First, I would tell them:
1. God doesn’t have favorites. Look again at verse 34. “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
That’s true and not true at the same time. God doesn’t have favorites, yet each one of you is his favorite. J If you believe God doesn’t have favorites, say “amen.” You see, God isn’t partial to a political party. He doesn’t favor one race over another or one gender over another or one age group over another. He isn’t more concerned for the rich than the poor or vice versa. He isn’t more supportive of the educated than the uneducated. He doesn’t like the Church of God better than the Baptists, Methodists, Nazarenes or Pentecostals. He doesn’t even love saints more than sinners. He is invested in every person, every life, every soul with passion, intensity, and a single focus, and He wants to be intimately acquainted in a love relationship with each person He has created.
Our culture has trouble believing God has no favorites because our minds are so conditioned to a human way of thinking. We observe favoritism in homes, classrooms, political and sports arenas. From Wall St. to the West End in Charleston favoritism is a game played by humanity. There is often an agenda when someone becomes a favorite; often something hoped for or expected in return. Life has become disgustingly competitive from a person’s first breath to its last. No wonder people shy away from a relationship with God. They don’t have the emotional or physical energy to try to impress one more person in order to get a leg up in life. When we evaluate a relationship with God from human standards it is just another burden to bear, hoop to jump through, and relationship to manage. We can’t comprehend a God who wants to love us without an ulterior motive and who will always love us even when we disappoint Him.
John 3:16 has to be the most quoted Scripture ever because it contains the greatest truth known to humankind. “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only Son that WHOEVER believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
That message of acceptance is a welcoming one for people today. “Come, just as you are.” “You are wanted.” “You are loved.” That is what people need to hear about God. That is what they need to experience when they walk into this church. Open arms. Open hearts. They need to hear, “Welcome to Teays Valley Church of God.” “We’re glad you are here.” “Do you have lunch plans?” “How can I pray for you?” “Come check out my Sunday School class or small group.”
Romans 4:16 says, “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
We don’t have to be Jewish to be loved by God. Yes, the Jews were called “God’s chosen people” but they weren’t God’s chosen favorites. They were chosen by God for a purpose and that purpose was to spread the light about the truth of God to the rest of us.
Second, if I just had a limited time to explain the spiritual principles I think someone needed to know in a quick “Word on the Street” I would tell them:
2. Jesus is Lord. There is Someone who got life right. There is Someone who
serves as an example of how to live. There is Someone who cares more about us than we care about ourselves. There is Someone who has answers to tough questions and who can give us strength when answers take eternity to uncover. There is Someone who isn’t afraid of our past and current brokenness. There is Someone we can go to for comfort and help when life is overwhelming. There is Someone who knows what the future holds. There is Someone in control of the things we can’t see and can’t explain. There is Someone who one day will right every wrong. There is Someone who faced death and the devil head on and won. His name is Jesus, and He is Lord.
Nothing and no one can trump Him. He cannot be outdone. He is for all time Supreme! You may be able to break a world record for growing the largest pumpkin or for jumping over the most moving cars, or for lifting the most weight with one hand, but you will never and no one will ever be able to do better or overcome more than Jesus. He is BOSS!
Not only did Peter explain that Jesus rose from the dead and that He is Lord over death, but he also helped Cornelius see that Jesus is Lord of Eternity. The second part of verse 42 is clear. Jesus “is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” Only the One who is Lord is qualified and responsible to make the final judgment about our lives. It’s not me or you or anyone else who has lived or will live. Jesus is the authority and judge over humankind.
Finally, in order to effectively share the “Word on the Street” in a quick conversation that would help people understand what they have to know in order to connect with God, I would tell them what Peter said here in this passage that
3. Anyone can be forgiven. Verse 43 says, “All the prophets testify about him that
everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Sin is a huge problem because it separates us from God. In order for that separation to be repaired our sins have to be forgiven which means they have to be wiped away and taken from us.
I don’t think it takes much convincing nowadays to help people see we are all born messed up into a messed up world. Sin doesn’t feel “right” even to the most deviant person. No amount of worldly success is enough to cover up for that aching feeling that you aren’t right on the inside. I don’t care how you dress it up on the outside the life of a person whose sins aren’t forgiven is heartbreaking. They are always chasing something they can never get a hold of. Like a dog chasing its tail by going around in circles, people whose sins aren’t forgiven are frustrated, angry, and tired.
Anyone can be forgiven! What a welcoming message for people to hear…that anyone’s broken soul can be fixed through the forgiveness of sins. Just as previously stated in John 3:16, God loves the world and made a way for us to be right with Him through the shedding of Jesus’ blood. God gave Jesus in exchange for your life. If you accept Him as Savior not only do you get to become right with God, but you get to become right. Through forgiveness you will gain a rest and release on the inside of your being that no life experience can provide or sustain.
The burden of sin, the desire to live messed up and to stay messed up because you think it is easier than the alternative… that messed up desire and life will be transformed into peace, joy, and self-control, a state we like to call holiness. Think of it as “wholeness.” When a person experiences what it means to have their sins forgiven it produces a feeling of wholeness, rightness, or completeness unlike they thought possible. It is like for the first time the person can breathe easily with the revelation, “This is the way it is supposed to be.” How wonderful to not have to live life running from something or running to something deceitful and dirty to try to feel better. That is the power of forgiveness. What a gift! And it is available to anyone. Is God speaking to anyone? Is this good news for anyone? How many people on the street need to hear this Good Word?
Have you heard the “Word on the Street?” God has no favorites. Jesus is Lord. Anyone can be forgiven. Will you commit to sharing God’s Word on the street through your words and actions this week?