Morning Thoughts on Acts 10:6


Elder Phillip N. Conley

Acts 10:6, "He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do."

This morning, many people use ignorance as an excuse for not doing as they ought. The small child learns this trick very early in life when he tells his parents, "Oh, I didn't know." However, while mercy is enacted from time to time, justice requires nothing short of the mark. When someone does not know the posted speed limit, the officer of the law will still write a speeding ticket whether the guilty party was truly ignorant or not. When the moral code of God is broken by man, the childish excuse, "Oh I didn't know" will not find any lodging for mercy. All of God's regenerate children know the difference between right and wrong (morally). The reason that they do is that God writes His laws in their heart and inward parts. They know God, and their conscience will smite them for disobedience in moral matters. However, there are some things that need to be taught.

On this occasion, we have a devout man (Cornelius) that is about to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, as a Gentile, Cornelius had not been given the oracles of God (as the Jews had). But, he still knew to do some things as Paul mentions in the second chapter of Romans. While the law of God did not come to him from Sinai, he kept the law and became a law unto himself (due to the change of heart given to him by God). However, even though he knew to pray, give alms, etc., there were still things he needed taught.

This is the purpose of the gospel to teach things that God's children need to know. Peter was worked on by God to preach, and the hearers were worked on by God to listen. Today, the circumstance is no different. God must work on both ends to accomplish the knowledge of salvation to His people. So, if Cornelius knew some things, in what was he lacking? Cornelius was lacking first and foremost about the specifics of his Saviour. When Peter comes to preach, he preaches Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The born-again child of God knows his Lord, but he knows very little about the specifics of his Lord until the gospel brings it to light. As the people found when making contact with Helen Keller (the girl born deaf, blind, and dumb), her response about Jesus was, "Oh, I already knew Him, but I didn't know what you called Him." She knew her Lord, and Cornelius knew his Lord. However, the gospel teaches us about our Lord. Still, the gospel teaches more. The angel tells Cornelius that he is going to learn some things he ought to do. The gospel acquaints the child of God with the specifics of the commandments. The gospel acquaints the child of God with the specifics of discipleship. While Cornelius was doing many righteous acts before he gospel came, the gospel explains to him that man is not to be worshipped (after he fell down to worship Peter). The gospel informs him and convicts him of the necessity of baptism. The gospel explains that the believer in Christ will receive remission of sins (relief from the weight and burden on a daily basis).

While Christ has put our sins away, we stand in daily need of relief from our wrongdoings. These are things that we ought to do, and the gospel testifies to these things. When an Arminian says, "Well, if you say that preaching the gospel has no impact on someone landing in heaven or hell, then your gospel has no purpose, weight, or meaning." The truth of the matter is that the gospel is of immense value right now for the instruction and edification of God's children while they walk and sojourn here below. When thinking of a parent's attitude toward their children, parenting has no impact on a child's eternal destination.

However, no parent (with any love for their child) would just say, "Well, since I can't get them to heaven, I have nothing that I can do for them." The parent's teaching and training can keep a child from landing in many undesirable situations in this life, and the attitude of the gospel minister should be to instruct the sheep to not be tossed to and fro in this world like a child with no understanding. May we ever grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour and intently listen to the gospel of our salvation to find out how we ought to behave and what we ought to do.