Quote:"That's what some say, but I think the truth is not so clear. The Bible says that:
"In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34a-35)"
'acceptable' for what? For salvation...in and of itself? Or....for God to choose to send an angel to this Roman soldier (Centurian).....for what purpose? To commend him as having 'enough'? or....to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to him...so he could enter the 'Kingdom of God'?
Sigh.... Let's look at the entire context, shall we?
This man was apparently not even a proselyte to Judaism...but who HAD been exposed to it....and, within his 'light'....was an upright and sincere man, worshipping God as best he knew how.
(the entire story starts in verse 1...not in verse 34/35. The most that can be said....is that while Peter was being supernaturally prepared by God...to expand his vision to see that God intended to redeem Gentiles as well.....God was supernaturally preparing Cornelius....and arranging for him to hear....what? The 'GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST'.
In verse 5 & 6...Cornelius was plainly told that he was to send for Simon....and he would tell him what he MUST DO.
Immediately after the verse you quote...Peter carries on with THIS...
Quote:"Act 10:36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
Act 10:37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;"
Peter speaks of the 'word' that god had sent to the Israelites....the message of 'peace by Jesus Christ'....and then Peter went on to PREACH THE GOSPEL to Cornelius, his relatives, and his close friends. The only one of the large group that had gathered....who was said to also be 'devout'....was one of his soldiers.
Now...was Cornelius....or ANY of his friends/neighbours....indwelt by the Holy Spirit prior to this moment? (rhetorical question...answer NO)
Was any of them justified...prior to Peter preaching the Gospel to them? Same answer.
WHILE Peter was preaching...when recounting the story to the church back in Jerusalem....Peter said that he had just BEGUN speaking....preaching THE GOSPEL....and the Holy Spirit fell on those present....as He had on the Disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.
Quote:"Act 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.Act 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;Act 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith."
So....far from indicating that God saved/saves those who don't yet 'believe' in Jesus....what happened here is that God supernaturally brought about the chain of events to ENABLE these people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.....BELIEVE on Him....RECEIVE the Holy Spirit....and thus enter the Kingdom of God.
What's important to note....is that this man....while apparently NOT a 'proselyte' to Judaism, might have been one of those who hung around in the outer courts of the synagogue....who had an interest in the things of God...as understood by the Jews.
So....he was a far cry from those....like, for instance, those Mother Theresa ministered to in India.....steeped in a pagan, godless religion....with many gods identified as demons by name.....he knew a fair bit about God....and worshipped Him according to the light he had....YET....he is not said to be in God's Kingdom....part of God's people...UNTIL AFTER he'd begun hearing the Gospel....and God, looking on his heart.....saw his belief....and honoured it by sending the Holy Spirit in power upon him....and upon his believing relatives and friends as well.
So....in light of all this.....I think it's highly inaccurate to attempt to use those verses to somehow justify a syncretistic belief that other religions are 'acceptable' to God and sufficient for salvation.....WITHOUT coming to a 'belief' in Jesus, a 'putting faith and trust in Jesus Christ Himself'.
At most....verses 34/35 reflect Peter's paradigm shift...from a traditional Jewish belief that for anyone to become acceptable to God...they had to convert....become a proselyte to Judaism....be circumcised, etc....but through the supernatural intervention of God...with BOTH Cornelius AND Peter....Peter now saw that God could and would 'save' Gentiles directly...just as He would save 'Jews'.....with no intermediary step required in between. Gentiles were or could be....'acceptable' to God....for salvation.....WITHOUT BECOMING JEWS FIRST.
However....the story clearly tells us that they HAD TO HEAR the Gospel....and respond to it in faith.....and THEN...they received the Holy Spirit.....ie; spirit baptized into God's family.