34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Salvation for All: Believing and Forgiveness
Richard Mario Procida, Esq.
God “desires everyone to be saved”. [1Timothy 2:4] As Christians, we are called to bring God’s salvation to all the nations of the world. [Matthew 28:18-20] We must take this challenge seriously.
Peter has just had a dream. In that dream Peter sees “four-footed” animals, snakes, and birds and hears a voice saying “get up and eat.” Peter, a Jew who followed Jewish dietary laws, exclaims “No! All my life, I’ve never eaten anything profane!” To this the voice replied “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” [Acts 10:11-16]
At the same, Cornelius, a Roman centurion and captain in charge of over a hundred soldiers, is visited by an angel. Cornelius respected Judaism and gave generously to the local community. The angel tells Cornelius that God hears his prayers and accepts his gifts. The angel instructs Cornelius to invite Peter into his home.
When Peter arrives, he begins to speak: “God shows no partiality.” Anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God. Christ, God’s messenger of peace, is “Lord of all.”
Jesus did right and healed the oppressed. Though by law anyone hung on a tree is cursed by God [Deut. 21:23] God was with Jesus.God raised Jesus from the dead. His followers ate and drank with him. God made him judge of the living and the dead. Anyone who believes in him is forgiven.
We are to believe in Jesus. We trust him. We have confidence in him. In Old English, be loef meant “to hold dear.” As Marcus Borg has pointed out, the meaning is similar to the modern English word belove, which means “to love”.
“God is gracious and forgiving, compassionate and loving, passionate about our transformation and the transformation of the world.”
It is good to fear God.
Fear of God in this context stands juxtaposed to fear of the Empire and its rulers. They can kill only the body but not the heart. [Matthew 10:28]
Our souls are not just the essense of our spiritual being, they are the spirits of our institutions and the energy behind our collective actions. They are our indiviual conscious and the conscious of our nation. (Wink 1992)
Those who killed Jesus were the authorities, the Roman Empire. Jesus taught us to not fear our rulers. Even the Law is not to be trusted. [Deut. 21:23]
Cornelius was a Roman centurion, a symbol of the Roman Empire. Cornelius feared God; he treated others well. So God accepted him despite his being an agent of Roman rule.
We are all Children of God. The power of Christ is the collective power of those following God’s call to believe in the messenger of peace.
We are all redeemable. We are already forgiven. Repent and do right. For God can touch the hearts of our enemies.
Salvation is liberation from bondage. [Exodus 15] Death has been defeated. Rise up. Believe in what Jesus did. Trust in his way. Follow him.
Do not fear death. Hold Christ’s example dear. Though he died on a cross, he lives. He lives within us, just as all martyrs live in the hearts of the people of all nations.
We are now made free to carry out God’s will, that all find liberation. That all be made free. “We can now participate in God’s passion for transformation—of ourselves and the world.”