Week 1, Lesson 5: God’s Faithfulness Sent the Gospel to the Gentiles
Congratulations, friends! We have arrived at lesson 5 this week, and I pray you have been encouraged in the journey.
We end this week’s study with what has become one of my very favorite examples of God’s faithfulness, because as Gentiles, we were lost and without hope if God had not been faithful to pour out salvation on us. So, let’s begin with a quiz!
- Were Jesus’ first followers Jews or Gentiles?
- According to Romans 1:16, for whom was the Gospel intended first?
- When did the gospel of Christ go out to the Gentiles?
The answer to the last question is found in Acts 10, and I encourage you to stop and read the entire chapter. Not only will it be the basis of today’s lesson, but it will totally come to life when we visit Caesarea by the Sea!
For context, we peak back at Acts 9:36-41 to discover Peter raising a young girl from the dead, which became known throughout the area. Then, in chapter 10, an angel of the Lord instructed Cornelius, a Roman centurion, to send for Peter. Meanwhile, in Joppa, through a vision from God (Acts 10:9-16), Peter was released from the Jewish law against eating unclean things.
Why do you suppose God released him from this Jewish law? Peter certainly wondered, and as he contemplated that, the men sent by Cornelius arrived to summon Peter, and he followed them to Caesarea. Contemplate the scene in Acts 10:24-33.
- How was Peter greeted by this group of Gentiles?
- Pay close attention to Peter’s statement in verses 28-29. Does his statement lend understanding to why God released him from Jewish law?
- According to verse 33, for what reason had Cornelius sent for Peter?
Talk about asking to be evangelized! Wow! Those Gentiles were hungry for the Gospel.
Press the pause button in Acts 10 and recall the disciples on the road to Emmaus (yesterday’s lesson). Luke 24:34 references “Simon,” which happens to be Peter’s Jewish name! (“Peter” is the Greek name Jesus gave him in Matthew 16:17-18!) That encounter on the road to Emmaus set the stage for Peter to become a great evangelist.
Now, read Peter’s “sermon” in verses Acts 10:34-43.
- How did he begin his sermon? (Verses 34-35)
- Verses 36-41 are filled with evidence of God’s faithfulness. What are some examples?
- According to verse 42, what did God command the Jews who witnessed all those things to do?
- According to verse 43, who receives remission of sins?
Pure Gospel! Then, Acts 10 closes by describing how the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard, and they were baptized because they believed.
Gentile friends, this was the most faithful act God ever performed specifically for Gentiles! Until then, the Gospel had gone out “to the Jew first,” just as Scripture said it would. But in a very unique way, God sent it out to Gentiles right there in Caesarea by the Sea! When we go there, it will be like finding our spiritual roots!
God’s faithfulness to us is beyond comprehension. Remember Abraham? He was a pagan, idol-worshipping Gentile with whom God cut a very unique covenant. In doing so, God ordained him father of the Jews. The Jews, then, brought us the Messiah, and the Gospel went out to them first. Yet, Ephesians 1: 3-6 says:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
From before the foundation of the world, God called us to adoption. That means we had to be chosen and “taken in.” It also means God made a promise before the creation of the world and He had to be faithful to fulfill it! To the praise of the glory of His grace, He did so!
But what about that idea of “taken in?” Romans 9-10 describe Israel’s rejection of the Gospel, despite the first believers being Jewish. Romans 11, however, shows us just how faithful God was to us! In verses 17 and 24 of Romans 11, we are described as a “wild olive tree” grafted into the “cultivated olive tree” so that we might become “a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”
So, what first was intended for the Jewish people was offered to us Gentiles because of their rebellion. We are now grafted into the spiritual heritage meant for the Jewish people. What amazing grace poured out upon us because God was faithful from before the foundations of the earth!
Now, lest you lose heart concerning our Jewish friends, God has always been and will always be faithful to them, too…despite their rebellion. (That gives us hope!) The way we show gratitude and faithfulness in return is to provoke to jealousy those to whom the Gospel was first intended. We have their Messiah, and it is our privilege to share Him back!
A Jewish person comes to faith in Yeshua (Jesus) the exact same way a Gentile does: by grace through faith in His death, burial, and resurrection, believing that He indeed paid the debt for sin. True, a veil currently covers the eyes of the Jewish people in general, but they can all witness the life and love of Jesus when we encounter them, so keep that in mind as we visit Holocaust survivors, IDF soldiers and other Jewish people in Israel. You might be the Jesus they see that opens their eyes and heart to believe in Him!
As you contemplate this week of study:
- What example of God’s faithfulness has been especially impacting this week?
- Have any of these examples heightened your excitement about experiencing a particular place? If so, ask the Lord for special discernment and special favor as we go there.
- Do you believe God has a “special moment” for you somewhere and sometime in Israel? I believe so, and He is preparing it for you right now!
We are only a few weeks away. Pray for one another and pray for our leadership team. As we all seek the Lord together, I am convinced that “special moment” will happen for each one of us!