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Discovery Magazine 12/1/2008

Cornelius Becomes a Christian

by  AP Staff

Have you ever known someone who did some very good things, but was not a Christian? There are many people who help others, but never go to church. These people may even believe in God and pray to Him, but they have never been taught the truth about Christ. There is a man like this in the Bible. His name was Cornelius.

Cornelius was a leader in the Roman army. He was stationed in the Jewish city of Caesarea, where he learned about God from the Jews. He is described as “a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). It is clear that Cornelius tried to be a very good man and wanted to please God. Yet, the things he did were not enough. Praying and helping the poor are good things to do, but by themselves they could never save him (Ephesians 2:8-9). Cornelius wanted to please God, so the Lord sent Peter to him to tell him what he needed to do. The conversion of Cornelius is very important, because he was the first Gentile the Bible records who became a Christian. Up to this point, God allowed the Jews (and Samaritans) to hear the Gospel. It was first preached to the Jews by Peter and the rest of the apostles on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Peter would now be the first to present the Gospel to the Gentiles. God told Peter that the Gospel was for everyone, both Jews and Gentiles, and he began his sermon to Cornelius by saying that “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34).

After Cornelius and his family were taught about Jesus, they decided to commit their lives to Him. Cornelius was a good man, but he still needed to believe in Christ and be baptized in order for his sins to be washed away and to be pleasing to the Lord. In this way, God brought salvation to the Gentiles. The story of Cornelius shows us that it is not enough to try to be good and believe in God; we must also be baptized “in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). This story also shows us that the Gospel is for everyone. It is wonderful that God doesn’t leave out anyone who will obey Him!

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