If you can remember only 1 thing from today’s message, this is it: Knowing Jesus Will Provide Us With That Never-Ending Supply Of God’s Acceptance, Mercy, And Forgiveness.
There are certain clichés you hear all through your life that when you look closer, are false. They are so ingrained in our consciousness you can probably say them along with me. For example: It takes money: To Make Money. But there’s Sam Walton and Bill Gates. Neither one was wealthy when they began their career. Both men discovered it doesn’t always take money to make money; you can make money through hard work and innovation. Another one: You can’t fight: City Hall. Sonny Bono opened a restaurant in Palm Springs, got mired in the red tape of local politics, and he fought and won. He also ran for mayor and won, and then became a U.S. Congressman before his untimely death in early 1998. Of course, his story reminds us of another cliché: If you can’t beat `em: Join `Em.
Another cliché we hear from time to time is: It’s not what you know it’s: Who You Know. Unlike the others, we all know of cases where this cliché is painfully true. Each each of us has had the experience of being excluded from something—maybe a club, a job, a business opportunity, and you never got a chance because you weren’t “in” with the right people.
At the time it may have seemed absolutely unfair. Today we’re going to examine how this cliché works in your favor. In Acts 10, Peter had a vision that changed his entire outlook on life. Like most of his fellow Jews, he believed that God a showed special favoritism to them.
But in the vision, he saw a large sheet lowered down to earth, filled with all kinds of critters. A voice told him, “Get up Peter, kill and eat.” Peter was caught off guard. He said “Surely not. I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” Peter had always adhered to the strict Jewish dietary laws, which prohibited eating things like shrimp, pork, fried catfish, and so on. Then the voice said, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
Peter had this same vision three times in a row; it was obvious that God was about to teach him something new. Right after this vision, Peter was invited to speak to the household of Cornelius, a God-fearing Gentile who lived in Caesarea. Peter accepted the invitation. When he gets there, Cornelius gets carried away and starts to bow before Peter. Peter gets him up and sets him straight. As he looked across that room, Peter had that light bulb moment and now he understood the meaning of the vision. Now, let’s pick up the story in Acts 10:28-43 (NLT)
28 Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. 29 So I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. Now tell me why you sent for me.” 30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago I was praying in my house about this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man in dazzling clothes was standing in front of me. 31 He told me, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God! 32 Now send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner who lives near the seashore.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here, waiting before God to hear the message the Lord has given you.”
34 Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. 36 This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. 38 And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
39 “And we apostles are witnesses of all He did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross, 40 but God raised Him to life on the third day. Then God allowed Him to appear, 41 not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be His witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. 43 He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.”
This brief but powerful message can be summarized like this: “It Doesn’t Matter What You Know, But WHO You Know!” He told them that God’s great love is available to everyone, regardless of race, nationality, or social status. He told them that God loves everyone the same. We’re looking at this thought: It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s not perfect, nor is it always easy. But it is promised to be Wonderful. Today, we’re going to take a look at Peter’s sermon to find another reason why It’s A Wonderful Life:
1. God Accepts Everyone The Same.
Years ago singer-songwriter Mac Davis penned a song titled: “It’s Hard To Be Humble When You’re Perfect In Every Way.” This is the attitude many religious Jewish people had. In the Old Testament we see the people of Israel were designated as God’s chosen people. Most thought this meant they were his favorite people, that God loved them more than the others. They believed that God had no use for Gentiles.
It was this kind of racial prejudice that God wanted Peter to overcome. He wanted to use Peter to tell the world something new: God Is Not Only The God Of The Jews, He Is The God Of All Creation—and God loves us and accepts us all the same. Vs. 34—“I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.” Some are born with greater opportunities than others, a better family, more money, more talent, more intelligence, more resources.
There Is Only One Place In This World Where True Equality Exists: In A Relationship With God. God accepts everyone the same. He doesn’t show favorites. He doesn’t favor America over all other nations, He doesn’t favor white people over all other races, He doesn’t favor men over women, or the poor over the rich. It doesn’t matter who you are, God loves you as much as He loves everyone.
This is good news, because The Only Thing That Really Matters In Life Is A Relationship With God, And It’s Equally Available To Anyone. Anyone can Know Him. Anyone Can Talk To Him. Anyone Can Experience His Love. Anyone Can Be Forgiven. Anyone Can Do His Will. Anyone can Live A Life That Brings Him Glory. In all of the inequality that exists in our world, it is great to know that it doesn’t matter who you are because God accepts everyone the same.
2. God Judges Everyone The Same.
The Bible says that Jesus is our friend, our brother, our advocate. Peter reminds us that Jesus is also our judge, vs. 42b—“Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead.” There is no other judge I would rather have. Think about it. When you stand before the judgment throne to give an account of all you’ve done, who do you want to face? Your high school football coach? Your boss? Your mother-in-law? Your ex-spouse? Do you think they would be able to judge with both fairness and mercy?
The Bible teaches that God is a fair and merciful God—not at all like a human judge. Some have argued that the rich have the advantage over the poor, and white men have the advantage over everyone else. But it doesn’t work that way with God. Human courts fail at administering justice, but God won’t. He judges everyone the same with absolute fairness. This means two things:
- There’s no personal privilege you can invoke that will get you off the hook.
- It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or who you did it with.
It’s not going to work for you or against you. God treats everyone the same— with the same grace, mercy, love!
3. God Offers Salvation To Everyone The Same.
Without exception, we all are guilty. He won’t let you off the hook just because you are who you are, but—here’s the good news—He Will Let You Off The Hook Because Of Who He Is. His purpose for sending Jesus into the world was to save us from our sins. Peter said in vs. 43—“He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in Him will have their sins forgiven through His name.”
Nothing you will ever do will make you worthy enough to stand in the presence of God. So Jesus died on the cross for you. If you believe in Him you can experience God’s forgiveness, you can live in God’s presence, and you can be filled with God’s power every day of your life. This is how you begin the Christian life—by believing in Jesus. He Accepts You No Matter Who You Are; He Will Show You Mercy No Matter Where You Are; He Will Forgive Your Sins No Matter What You Have Done.
And this is how you live the Christian life. Coming To Jesus Is A Matter Of God’s Grace; Continuing In Jesus Is A Matter Of God’s Grace, Too. When we put our faith in Him we are covered by His mercy. We will make mistakes along the way. And He still forgives us as we choose to live like Jesus. It Doesn’t Matter What You Know Or Even Who You Are, It Only Matters Who You Know.
Sin is a serious matter and must be dealt with in a serious way. God has already done this for us. God offers you acceptance, mercy, and forgiveness. Knowing Jesus Provides Us With That Never-Ending Supply Of God’s Acceptance, Mercy, And Forgiveness. If you want to have A Wonderful Life, it all comes down to this: It Takes The Surrendered Life To Jesus, And It Only Happens One Way—When you do 3 things:
- Admit That You Resist Total Surrender. The old nature—that nature of sin that attacks our life—resists surrendering to God.
- Ask Him For His Power To Enable Your Unconditional Surrender. The Resurrection of Jesus happened because of His Unconditional Surrender to dying on the Cross for all of us.
- Then Operate With The Confidence That His Resurrection Power Is In You. It’s more than just liking Jesus; it’s about The Deepest Commitment Of Your Heart. It’s facing those battles head on because His Resurrection Power—whether you feel that Power or not—you know it’s there because HE SAID it’s there.
And because we can’t follow Jesus and stay where we are, here is our Next Step:
Decide To Give Jesus All Of Your Life. Admit it! There is a part or parts of our life we haven’t given over to Jesus. Here are some examples:
- A wound from a past hurt that you refuse to deal with;
- A secret shame—from years ago or just last week;
- Refusal to forgive someone;
- An area of personal pride—you’re good at something or you have really achieved recognition for something good—and you’re holding on;
- Here’s just one word: Time—you see it as yours and that makes you want to spend it on you, for you and make it about you;
This is what it takes, all it takes—it’s the one thing you haven’t offered to Him—AND It’s The Only Thing He Wants From You Right Now! Have you made—I mean really made—I mean absolutely made—Your Decision To Surrender Your Life—To The ONE Who Made You, Who Loves You, And Can Take Your Surrendered Life—And Make It A Wonderful Life!