C.A.C SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR JUNE 11, 2023 : LESSON ELEVEN: TOPIC – CORNELIUS MAXIMISES GOD’S GRACE
CHRIST APOSTOLIC CHURCH Nigeria & Overseas
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
THEME: SOME CHARACTERS WHO GROW IN IN LORD’S GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE
JANUARY – JUNE, 2023
Unit Three: Spiritual Growth In The New Testament
June 11, 2023
LESSON : ELEVEN
TOPIC: CORNELIUS MAXIMISES GOD’S GRACE
So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God (Acts 10:33).
There is no discrimination when it comes to the grace of God. Cornelius, a gentile and his household were located by the Grace. His grace is available to all.
Though Cornelius was God-fearing, devoted and generous, he didn’t know the truth of the Gospel, ie, in spite of his good deeds, he hadn’t come to know God through Jesus-the only Way, Truth, Life and Salvation. It is possible to be religious while still being lost! But for that, God, in His mercy, graciously encountered Cornelius, who would never have become a believer in Christ, because his morality and benevolence would have blindfolded him from the reality of salvation. Thank God who sent His angel to him, guiding him on what to do to be saved. God chose not to deliver the Gospel message to Cornelius through an angel, but through Peter. What an honour we have in spreading the Gospel to lost souls! Peter’s distance from the place notwithstanding, Cornelius immediately sent for him. The Holy Spirit did the connection (vv. 19-20), but kudos to Cornelius who was very sensitive, prompt and obedient. So I sent to you immediately (10:33a). Cornelius humbly commended Apostle Peter for taking the pain to visit a gentile (10:33b). Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God (Acts 10:33c). This shows the readiness of Cornelius and his people for the Gospel. When the parties met and allowed God, He showed and rained His Spirit like He did at Pentecost. Grace at work!
DEVOTIONAL BIBLE READINGS FOR THE WEEK
Mon. 5: God Chooses Us From The Beginning (Eph. 1:4)
Tue. 6: God Declares Certain Things Unclean (Lev. 11:1ff)
Wed. 7: God Changes The Status Quo (Acts 10:13-15
Thur. 8: God Saves Us By Grace (Eph. 2:8)
Fri. 9: God’s Grace Draws People To Him (Jn. 6:44)
Sat. 10: God’s Gracious Promises Are For Believers (Gal. 3:22)
1. We can’t attain to all of God’s gracious promises for our lives without proper cooperation with, and obedience to Him.
2. Sincerely, cooperation with the Holy Spirit and sensitivity to His leading, are the bedrocks of enjoying God’s grace through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Acts 15:1-32
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
AIM: To show that he who doesn’t appropriate God’s grace in his/her life would end up in disgrace.
OBJECTIVES: At the end of this lesson, the learners should be able to:
i. show that there is no one too bad that God’s grace cannot reach and save;
ii. prove that writing off anyone yet to be saved is a demonstration of self- centeredness (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 4:5);
iii. show that when you understand God’s grace, it only makes sense that you would extend that grace to other people; and
iv. prove that God’s love and passion for man are not first determined by man’s actions, but by His grace.
TEXTUAL SOURCES: ACTS 10:1-11:17
Hallelujah! God has graciously brought us to the conclusion of Lesson Ten: GOD’S GRACE: SUFFICIENT FOR PAUL where we learnt how God’s grace located a die-hard persecutor of the Way, on Damascus’ road, and brought him to the place of mercy; preaching and suffering to promote the name of Jesus he once persecuted. In that lesson, we were also told how Paul continued and did great exploits among the Gentiles, where he had been commissioned by the Lord. May we no more continue to kick against the goads, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This week, by the grace of God, we shall be discussing another personality, in the topic, titled, CORNELIUS
MAXIMISES GOD’S GRACE. We are going to see how Cornelius, though devoted and hospitable, had to be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Of great importance is his cooperation and obedience to God to thread the path that would bring him to a closer relationship with God. His magnanimity in carrying his household along is also worthy of emulation. Together, these Gentiles received unprecedented favour of God that hitherto had eluded them and their past generations. Through the instrumentality of God’s grace, Apostle Peter, and the Word of God, they were baptised first in the Holy Spirit, and later in water, to absorb them into the body of Christ, and break the age-long dichotomy that existed between the circumcised Jews and the uncircumcised Gentiles. “What God has made clean, let no man call unclean.”
May the Holy Spirit help us to be who He wants us to be. Amen.
INTRODUCTION TO EACH DIVISION
This is a week lesson that is divided into parts A and B respectively.
DIVISIONI: CORNELIUS MAXIMISES GOD’S GRACE
The division discusses two important sub-topics: A. GOD’S GRACE LOCATES HIM and B. GOD’S GRACE BAPTISES THEM ALL. God resolves our shortcomings in our exaggerated or affected piety and negative religious zeal (religiosity), by making His grace more powerful than anything we could do to disappoint Him. God, through grace, created an atmosphere for relationship with Himself. Cornelius benefited from this opportunity and really exploited it. Be sensitive, as you make sure the grace of God is not taken for granted.
1. CORNELIUS MAXIMISES GOD’S GRACE
A. GOD’S GRACE LOCATES HIM
B. GOD’S GRACE BAPTISES THEM ALL
Jun. 11 I. CORNELIUS MAXIMISES GOD’S GRACE (Acts 10:1-11:17). To To maximise something is to use it well; to make full and adequate use of it. Cornelius gave us an example on how to appropriate God’s grace that we have received. He made it clear to us, through the way he cooperated with God’s provision, that everyone (including moralists like Cornelius who remained unsaved until grace located him for genuine salvation) has to believe in Christ’s salvation, i.e.cooperate with His provision.
A. GOD’S GRACE LOCATES HIM (10:1-33)
And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God” (v.4).
i. vv. 1-4: Caesarea was a Gentile city where Jews were abhorred, yet there, God saw the simplicity, humility and piousness of the sincere prayers of a man who needed to know Jesus like Saul (Jn. 14:6; Acts 9:5). Grace located him, turning his prayers to acceptable sacrifice (Heb. 11:4).
ii. vv. 5-8: Connecting him with Peter is an act of grace, and not for works (Tit. 3:4,5). God deliberately chose him as the gateway for the Gentile crusade. We can’t attain to all of God’s gracious promises for our lives without proper cooperation with, and obedience to the God of all grace (cf. Gen. 12:1-4; Rom. 10:17).
iii. vv. 9-15:… What God has cleansed you must not call common. The Gentiles would now be reconciled with the spiritual circumcision (Rom. 2:28, 29; Eph. 2:11-13)-Grace in action! Change your attitude to sinners; every sinner is a potential saint.
iv. vv. 24-26: Cornelius maximised God’s grace that reached him, in that, he carried his household along; he wasn’t selfish with it. If they partook of the natural blessings with him, they must also, through him, share in the divine gracious blessings-salvation. Andrew invited his brother to Jesus (Jn. 1:40-42).
v. vv. 27-28: …But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean-GRACE! No one comes to God unless He draws him/her (Psa. 85:8; Hab. 2:1). Cornelius remained the evangelist of his household (cf. Jn. 4: 28-30). Where are your children?
vi. vv. 28-33: They were all present, waiting for the man of God (v. 33) with their minds prepared to receive all that God had for them. Why are you in church? Present or absent-minded, doing other things? Remember the story of the sower (Matt. 13:3-9).
vii. A prepared preacher and a prepared audience for salvation makes a perfect team! Consciously, make a conducive atmosphere (spiritual and physical) for the flow of God’s grace in your life, family, society and the church of God.
B. GOD’S GRACE BAPTISES THEM ALL (10:34-11:17) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word (v. 44).
i. vv. 34-44: Apostle Peter’s presence was to show the grace of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1, 2), the missing ingredient in Cornelius’ devotion, even though His love for, and fear of God endeared him to God (v. 35; cf. 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21).
ii. Grace located Cornelius’ house, else, they would be judged on the last day, for God is no respecter of persons. The awe and great expectation (Joel 2:28; Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4) that fell on Cornelius and his household brought down the Holy Spirit upon them like the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). How long can you wait?
iii. vv. 45,46: The coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles became at
puzzle to those of the circumcision-Jews. How on earth would the Spirit fall upon the uncircumcised (cf. Num. 11:27,28; Mk. 9:38)? But whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:13).
iv. v.47: God is not static in His methods. For some, water baptism came first (Acts 8:12) but here, the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, they must be baptised in water to openly identify them as followers of Christ, and in obedience to the Lord’s command (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38, 39)
v. vv. 48; Acts 11:1ff: This is divine grace for a once condemned people to be baptized in the name of the Lord (cf. In. 4:9). When challenged by the yet ignorant brethren (Acts 11:3), Peter’s defence was grounded in the Word (Matt. 3:11; Acts 1:5).
vi. Our attitude to the move of God’s grace should be, Who was I that I could withstand God? (Acts 11:17). As love covers multitudes of sin (1 Pet. 4:8), so is GRACE. Let your relationship with God and others be seasoned with love!
vii. Everything is a product of grace. The people graciously gathered to listen to the message through the accredited agent of God, and the grace through the Holy Spirit was rained on them exactly like on the day of Pentecost. We need such experiences in our midst today.
1. We have to cooperate with God to be exactly who He wants us to be, not what we think we are, or should be.
2. Both water and Holy Spirit baptism are necessary ingredients to establish us in the faith and service to the God of all grace. Tarry for the Spirit.
1. God is no respecter of persons. Discuss in the light of Cornelius and his household coming to Christ’s knowledge.
2. The place of water and Holy Spirit baptism cannot be over-emphasised in being true followers of Jesus Christ. Discuss?
SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS: ANSWER TO QUESTION 1:
* God is the God of all families on the earth. He has no favourites or permanent enemies. He is the respecter of no man. He has always been in charge of the affairs of man, generally.
* In His prerogative, He does what pleases Him (Psa. 115:3); He can decide who lives or who dies. He enthrones one and dethrones another. No creature can say to Him, “What is it you are doing?”
* Not all Jews had been saved, yet God extended His arm of grace to the gentiles (Cornelius and his entire family). This shows the value God places on every soul, irrespective of race, gender, colour and background.
* The Gospel is for all people. The implication is that, God is out to save the red, black, yellow and white, male and female. He is no respecter of persons. He is the God of all.
• Acceptance of people from every nation. Whatever God has called holy, let no one call it unholy. God taught Peter about the shift in the redemptive agenda of God, which had taken place, even before the world began. In fact, every sinner is a potential saint, and no one is too bad to enjoy God’s saving grace.
* Like Cornelius and his household, you have to appreciate the grace that has located you, and taken you from darkness into God’s marvellous light.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 2:
* Revelation and experience by John the Baptist: I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt 3:11).
* Water Baptism depicts how we died with Christ, and through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, how we are raised with Him, and again, how we will rise to meet Him one day in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-16). Jesus commanded all believers to receive this sacrament.
* The act of water baptism is an EXTERNAL SIGN of the INTERNAL CHANGE accomplished by the baptism of the HOLY SPIRIT. Water baptism is a public display and declaration of faith in Christ and repentance, while Holy Spirit baptism is for the inner man.
* Water baptism is our first act of obedience after putting our trust in God. It shows that we are willing to follow Jesus. It also welcomes us into the family of God and prepares us to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. This is the first testimony of our faith.
* The promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the eternal arrangement of God for His people, the Church. God would release His Spirit upon all flesh. This was fulfilled at Pentecost (Joel 2:28; Acts. 2:1-4).
* Water baptism without baptism of the Holy Ghost is incomplete for a fruitful and fulfilling Christian life. When Paul encountered some brethren who were Christians without Holy Ghost baptism, he made them see how deficient they were, until they too were endued (Acts 19:1-7).
* Therefore, the place of water and Holy Spirit baptisms cannot be overemphasised in being a true follower of Christ.
“Joppa” calls to remembrance the story of Jonah. Jonah actually ran from God’s commission to preach to the Gentiles in Nineveh, from Joppa to Tarshish. Ironically, Peter positively responded to the same grace that Jonah chose to work against, at the same place (Joppa). God who has always had a heart for the nations (redemption), opened doors of opportunities to reach the gentiles through Peter in a different way from the way He used Jonah. Jonah abused the grace while Peter maximised it. Never make light of God’s mission through you at any point in time.
Moreover, “Cornelius’s piety was a factor, but also Cornelius’s location played into God’s decision to choose him for this segment of his mission… God chose Cornelius because it worked well to accomplish his mission” (Chad Harrington. Cornelius in the Bible: The Significance of His Story for Today.
In Cornelius’ story in Acts 10, we realised how two unlikely personalities, who had never encountered each other before were wonderfully brought together. If Peter and Cornelius were left on their own, most likely, they would never have met or even talked to each other, because one was a Roman centurion (Gentile) and the other was a Jewish apostle, and they were far apart from each other. However, through the amazing working of God’s grace, their paths crossed and brought about the blessed encounter. As a believer, always be ready to come across those that need the gospel, and let your life affect them positively as you share the gospel with them; no segregation or discrimination. This is our great commission.