Dear friends, greetings in the blessed Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians we know that there is no other Name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved other than the blessed Name of our Lord Jesus (Acts 4:12). We also know that the Lord Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6). But what we may not realize is that God has His own ways of reaching out to men and women in all races and religions which may confound our stereotypical church baptisms or evangelical crusades (which are definitely the more traditional routes to salvation).
I’d like for us to turn to Acts 10:1-8. This is the story of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion who was called and accepted by God. According to the narrative, Cornelius was a commander of the Roman legion, a good and God fearing man. I can only guess that he was worshipping the Roman gods like Jupiter or Aries. I can also surmise that as the commander of the Italian regiment that was maintaining law and order in Caesarea, he was loathed and despised by the locals. But God knew his heart and that he was seeking the Lord whom he didn’t know (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So great was his piety that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a vision (trance) and spoke to him (Acts 10:3) personally. This is a classic example of how God looks into the heart of man/woman and their personality, unlike the world which only judges our individuality (1 Samuel 16:7). Although Cornelius was a pagan, he feared God and prayed regularly and helped the poor and needy (Acts 10:4). Compare this behavior with that of many self-professing Christians who may be damned in the end (Matthew 25:31-46). Cornelius had never been to a church nor had he ever heard the gospel. Most of us would have thought that it’d be impossible for a man who had never heard the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14). But God had His own ways of reaching out to Cornelius. We’re all familiar with the rest of the story about how the Apostle Peter preaches salvation to Cornelius and baptized his family (Acts 10:9-48).
Let’s now turn to another classic example of God’s unconventional methods of saving people, the story of conversion of Saul the Pharisee (Acts 9:1-19). While Cornelius was godly, Saul was religious (and I’m quite sure we all know the difference between the two). Cornelius had never heard the gospel, while Saul had not only heard the gospel but was actively trying to destroy it. Cornelius was a gentile, while Saul a zealous Jew (Philippians 4:3-6). The contrast between the two couldn’t have been more poignant. Most of us could have understood why God loved and saved Cornelius, but would have certainly written off Saul as the one to be damned (Mark 16:16). Again, God had different plans for Saul. Since Saul was adamant in not accepting the gospel that he heard, God had to strike him down with blindness (Acts 9:3-4, 8-9). Jonah suffered a similar fate (Jonah chaps 1-2). This should be a reminder to all of us that God Almighty can and will influence our ability to choose, if it contradicts His will.
To summarize friends, we can never anticipate or second guess God. The Lord has billions of children on this planet, and He has infinite ways of reaching out to them.
Dear friends, I’m quite certain that all of you are sanctified, Holy Ghost baptized saints. Should there be any among you that don’t know the Lord yet, I pray that the Lord of the Universe will set you free from sin and disobedience into His glorious light and freedom. Amen.