Sermon Series:Acts

In Acts 9, we find Peter moving from city to city up the Mediterranean coast proclaiming the Gospel and performing miraculous signs and wonders. He does not have his own agenda, but is going with God’s agenda; listening to the Spirit, following His leading. He is in step with the Spirit. The question for him (and us) is this: What happens when you are in step with the Spirit and the Spirit takes a major detour? That’s exactly what happens in chapters 10 and 11. The Book of Acts records the movement of the Gospel, the expanse of the Kingdom of Jesus into the unlikeliest of places; moving out from the epicenter of Jerusalem to the outsiders of Samaria, to the African continent, and throughout Palestine. Up to this point, every new Christian has been from a Jewish background, but that changes dramatically as Luke retells the extension of God’s grace and call to the Gentiles. The story of Peter and Cornelius, which includes angelic visits, disturbing dreams, perfectly synchronized knocks at the door, Peter’s confusion, yet obedience, the Holy Spirit interrupting Peter’s sermon, and Cornelius and his friends and family getting baptized… is an awesome story of the Big Plan of God, the grace of Jesus, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit as the Gospel comes to the Gentiles. It is a story about conversion, not just Cornelius’s household, but for Peter, also, as he is coming to grips in real time with the ground shaking realization that the box of his assumptions and traditions was breaking under the weight of God’s grace. No one is beyond the outstretched arm of Jesus. Conversion stories are stories about beginnings (new life and new paradigms) but also about ongoings. God, meets us where we are, but (in His grace) doesn’t leave us as we are. To keep in step with the Spirit is to continue to work out the implications of salvation. We are converted to Christ but also converted from self-sufficiency, from ongoing cycles of sin and apathy, from prejudice and ego, from creating wall to isolate ourselves from others. Ongoing repentance. Ongoing conversion. Ongoing transformation. Ongoing trust in the love and grace of Jesus. Ongoing listening to His voice and responding to His invitation.