“Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.” And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’””
Romans 9:25-26 NLT
Imagine how the Gentile Roman recipients of Paul’s letter must have felt when they read these verses. God, through His grace and mercy, has extended His love to all those not of Jewish heritage but who called upon His name anyway. Paul quoted verses from the Old Testament prophet Hosea – Hosea 2:23 and 1:10. But the entirety of the prophet Hosea’s message didn’t come to fruition until the early Apostles started to evangelise the world of their day. It wasn’t easy for the Jewish men. Acts 10 gives the fascinating account of Peter, and how God gave him a vision about telling the Good News to a Gentile believer, Cornelius. This man, a Roman centurion, we are told, was a God-fearing man who, one day, had a visit from an angel who scared the life out of him. He was told to send for Peter, who was living at the time in a place called Joppa. In parallel with this, Peter received a vision. We read in Acts 10:11-13, “He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them””. Peter wasn’t happy about this, because the sheet was full of animals that Jews were not supposed to eat. He said in Acts 10:14, ““No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean””. But the response to him in the vision was, “ … “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean”” (Acts 10:15). This happened three times and then there was a knock at the door from the men that Cornelius had sent to find him. We can read how Cornelius and his family became believers in the rest of the passage in Acts 10.
Jesus of course prepared the way for salvation for all men. The famous verses we read – John 3:16-17 say, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him“. But Jesus Himself was only sent to God’s people, the Jews. Of course, He couldn’t be everywhere. Jesus told the Syrophoenician woman, as recorded in Matthew 15:24, “He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel’“. But He commissioned His disciples to take the Gospel beyond the Jews, as we read in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age‘”.
Today there are many Christian denominations. But regardless of which one we belong to, we know that Jesus must be at the centre. The liturgy, the prayers – they must all point to Him. He is truly the Son of God and all that we do in our churches must be to His glory. Sadly, there are one or two Christian sects who have demoted Jesus to little more than a prophet. However, the old Apostle John, living as he did in an age of all sorts of erroneous claims about Jesus, wrote in 1 John 4:1-3, “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here“.
We pilgrims are truly grateful that God’s grace even extended to us Gentiles. Wherever we are living in the world, or whichever race we belong to, God’s grace and His Good News reached us. There is no where we can go to escape it. And as we extend that invitation to those around us, we remember how God’s love and grace saved us from a lost eternity. Let us never forget!
Dear God. We are so grateful for all You have done for us. And for extending Your love and grace to pilgrims everywhere. we praise You today. Amen.