The book of Acts reads like a national best-seller with exciting plot twists, great character development, surprise characters, and supernatural creatures. Acts will make you excited to be a Christian. It reminds readers that the Holy Spirit is real; this thing called Christianity is alive, powerful, and exciting; that being a Christian is not boring but the greatest adventure anyone has ever be called to; and God is all-powerful and full of surprises for his followers! Do I have your attention yet? Good!
The biblical story I want to point you to today is found in Acts 10 and records the Roman centurion, Cornelius’, conversion to Christianity. Cornelius is thought to be the first Gentile (anyone who isn’t born a Jew) convert to the Christian faith. This is important for people who believe that Christianity is a predominately American religion that is insignificant for the rest of the world. The first Christians were Jews and they marveled that a Gentile could become a follower of Christ. Cornelius was, “a devout man and one who feared God will all his household…and prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2). But even though Cornelius was a devout man who was constantly praying, God sent Peter to tell Cornelius about Jesus. Even though Cornelius was praying to the right God, he was not praying through the right mediator, Jesus Christ. Peter ends up telling Cornelius about Jesus, “through His name (Jesus) everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins”(Acts 10:43). Cornelius and his household accepted Christ right then and received the Holy Spirit.
So why does the biblical account of Cornelius’ conversion matter for us in 2017? A few weeks after studying this story, I found myself in an Uber with a Muslim driver. This man was telling me how he and I, a Muslim and a Christian pray to the same God. Honestly, I was tired, jet lagged, hungry, wanted to get home, and didn’t feel like trying to recall all my apologetics arguments. But then God brought to my mind the story of Cornelius. I told my Uber driver that the Bible says it is impossible to accept God while rejecting Jesus. The idea that all religions are basically praying to the same God is a lie being told in our schools, homes, friend groups, media, and even some churches. That’s why we must know the story of Cornelius, who though he was sincere, devout, religious, and even praying to the right God; he was sincerely wrong until He accepted Christ as his Savior. That is not my word. . . . , that is God’s view of people who try to come to Him without Jesus.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name (Jesus) under heaven that has been given…by which we are saved. Acts 4:12
Christians that teach Jesus is the only way to Heaven are often labeled intolerant. This is why we as believers must rest in the fact that pointing people to Jesus is not harming them. Salvation is more than about hurting someone’s feelings. Salvation is the difference between life and death in this life, but more importantly determines our eternal destiny. You are never ultimately hurting someone by telling them the Truth of the gospel in love.
About the Writer:
Julia is the Girl’s Ministry Director at First Baptist Dallas. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who trained at the world-renowned Meier Clinics. Julia is a professional speaker for Just Say Yes, speaking nationwide on the topics of suicide, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. Julia is passionate about her three favorite topics theology, psychology, and ryanology. She has been married to her junior high sweetheart, Ryan, for eight years and loves ministering to teenagers alongside her best friend and favorite boss. Julia has a heart to see people experience the same freedom through Christ that she has experienced!