Acts 10 tells us about the conversion of Cornelius, the first Gentile admitted to the church. The narrative describes him glowingly: devout, generous, well-respected, and prayerful (10:2). Later in the story Peter acknowledges that God accepts anyone “who fears him and does what is right,” (10:35), implying that Cornelius is one such individual. We would be hard-pressed to find a better person.
Yet this “good” man is instructed to hear the message of the Gospel. Peter presents it to him, and he receives baptism for the remission of his sins. Church officials will eventually glorify God for granting him and all Gentiles “repentance that leads to life,” (Acts 11:18).
We are tempted to think that such a man has no need to repent; he is good, decent, and well-respected. Perhaps we have met his type in our own experiences, and though we hold such people in high esteem, we often fail to realize that they need salvation like everyone else: “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).
Cornelius had a need inherent in all humanity: redemption from sin. Despite his apparent goodness, he was still as lost and dead as the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. His story is a reminder of humanity’s sinfulness, something that transcends nationality, race, and family identity. Even “good” people need the grace of God.
- Bob -