Cornelius is not Our pattern!

Among believers, some want to hold the position that Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, in Acts Chapter Ten, is a pattern of Gentile salvation into the body of Christ. This is based on the assumption that "the kingdom was withdrawn at the stoning of Stephen" and so anyone who believed after that time is automatically included in the body of Christ. Most people who hold this view will point to Acts Chapter Two as the beginning of the Church. In other words, the message gradually moved from predominately Jewish to predominately Gentile believers. Most who hold this view only see one body of believers, or only one church, in the so-called "new testament" time period. The bible, however, is clear that God recognizes THREE churches. Not just one. There is the ?church in the wilderness,? Moses was the leader; there is the ?church at Jerusalem, Peter emerged as the spokesman; and then there is the church the body of Christ, a new creation only revealed to Paul. Paul was saved in Acts chapter Nine, hence someone who is able to see these distinctions in scripture will acknowledge that Paul is the FIRST member and the PATTERN of the church, the body of Christ. (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

There are some, however, who believe that the body of Christ began in mid-Acts, but who still point to Cornelius as an example of "transition." Those seem to hold the belief that anyone who was saved after the stoning of Stephen (which is the last time the bible indicates that ?national repentance? was being offered to Israel) fall into what they call "the but now revelation" and therefore MUST be in the body of Christ.

I believe that this position is in error for several reasons, and I'd like to go over some of the more important ones. The most important, first of all, is to state that all men, of all ages, Genesis thru Revelation, are saved by faith. But NOT ALL are saved by grace through faith. Some were saved by faith plus WORKS....or in other words....the doing of something. All salvation is by FAITH IN WHAT GOD SAID. But it is clear in the bible that God says different things to different people at different times.

A prime example of this would be Cain and Abel. God established the blood sacrifice in the Garden of Eden when He made Adam and Eve "coats of skins and clothed them" in Genesis 3:21. Obviously, Adam taught his sons how to worship God, when to worship God and WHAT TO BRING in order to worship. Abel brought the acceptable offering, Cain did not....and the bible records, in Genesis Chapter Four that " the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and his offering he had not respect." Another example would be Noah. The bible says that ?Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.? In order to ?find grace? it only follows that Noah did something in order to find it. Actually, Noah was the only man alive who still kept the blood sacrifice as Abel above did. So God told Noah to build an ark ?to the saving of his house.? Noah did it. In your case, however, you were not told to DO something, you were told to BELIEVE something. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

Now in Acts Chapter Ten, Verse 34, Peter says to Cornelius, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." That is a very qualified statement, because in the very next verse, Peter proves that GOD IS a respecter of persons, dispensationally, because he says, "But in every nation he that FEARETH HIM and WORKETH RIGHTEOUSNESS is accepted with him." The negative of that statement is that even though a man feared God, unless he ALSO WORKED RIGHTEOUSNESS he would not be accepted. It would compare to what James wrote in the book of James, that ?faith without works is dead.? (Please note that GRACE without works is NOT dead!) Paul later wrote, in Titus 3:5 that our salvation is NOT by works of righteousness which we have done. The two verses are at odds with each other unless you recognize the DIVISIONS in scripture.

Now the entire basis of the salvation of Cornelius in Acts Chapter Ten is not at all within the "dispensation of the grace of God" because Peter was not a "dispenser of the grace of God" and never says that he is, nor does the bible anywhere say that any apostle other than Paul was a "steward of the mysteries of God." (1 Corinthians 4:1) Paul says in I Corinthians 9:17 that "a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me." Paul says that ?by grace ARE YE SAVED.? On the contrary, Peter writes from a totally different perspective in I Peter Chapter One, verse thirteen:

1 Peter 1: 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Peter expected to receive grace at the end if he endured unto the end, just as the Lord had told him:

Matthew 24: 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

In II Peter, 1:10 he warns them to "make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.....and an "entrance......into the kingdom.....would be given to them." At the end of his life Peter says: "beware, lest ye fall from your own stedfastness"....II Peter 3:17. In the TIME PAST message preached by Peter and the 12, faith plus works of faith was necessary for salvation. Their salvation would be at the end, either the end of their lives, or the end of the tribulation, whichever came first. They were given power to endure. (Nobody today has the ?power to become the sons of God,? as in John 1:12. That doctrine belongs to a time past message.)

Contrary to the opinion of some, the Pentecostal believers.....and that includes ANYONE who was in Peter's ministry.....or the ministry of James, or John, or Steven, or Philip....or any other kingdom apostle or evangelist, HAD A PERFORMANCE-BASED SALVATION. Acts Religious men have wrestled with Hebrews Chapter 6, verses 4-6 and Hebrews 10:26 and other Hebrew scriptures ever since the Baptists came into being and have insisted that those described in such passages are "false professors." That is NOT TRUE. John 1:11 says, "He came unto his own and his own received him not...." And verse twelve says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he POWER TO BECOME the sons of God." Notice that it neither says that they were MADE sons of God, that they received the atonement, or that they were baptized into the body of Christ. None of those things are in view in the passages.

The baptism WITH the Holy Ghost was for POWER, the power to suffer, the power to endure, the power to "love not their lives unto death" BUT IT DID NOT TAKE AWAY THEIR FREE WILL. God did not overpower their free will and God never relieved them of the responsibility to MAKE A CHOICE. Their salvation was by faith ON TRIAL. So, there were 8,000 baptized believers who were NOT SAVED, and would not be saved until the deliverer roars out of Zion and fulfills the covenant of Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrews 8:8 and Romans 11:27: "For this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins." The salvation of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion is in one accord with this and is no different.

Cornelius was blessed by God in one accord with God's promise to Abraham in Genesis Chapter Twelve, Verse Three: "I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee." You can see this promise at work also in the case of the Syro-Phonecian woman in Matthew 15, the Centurion in Matthew 8:5, the Centurion in Luke 7:6 and Cornelius, the Centurion, in Acts Chapter Ten. These people BLESSED the seed of Abraham.....and God blessed them. They were not SAVED by blessing the seed of Abraham, by blessing Israel, but because they did they were in a position of being ?dogs under the table eating the crumbs of the children?s bread.? (Matthew 15:26) Keep in mind that ONLY in the dispensation of the grace of God is both Jew and Gentile equal before God. Previously, Israel was exalted above all nations. In the future the Israel of God (not the Israel of the television nightly news) will once again be in that position. The bible says that ?all Israel SHALL BE saved.? Peter and all those involved in his ministry certainly qualify.

How could Cornelius be saved by Paul's gospel? If Cornelius was saved by Paul's gospel, the only gospel by which you are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, then why didn't the angel tell Cornelius to send for Paul instead of sending for Peter? At the time of Acts chapter ten Peter had never heard Paul?s message. He only learned it at the time of Acts 15.  ?Faith cometh by HEARING and HEARING by the word of God.? The only way you can be saved IN ANY DISPENSATION is in response TO WHAT YOU HEAR. Cornelius heard what Peter said, and Peter said that fearing God and WORKING RIGHTEOUSNESS makes you acceptable to God....the implication being.....that without working righteousness you are not acceptable to God.

Peter preached to Cornelius, (Acts 10:43) that to Jesus Christ "give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive the remission of sins." That remission was UNTO the second coming of Christ. In other words the blotting out of their sins, according to Peter in Acts chapter three, verse nineteen and twenty, was at the second coming of Christ. Sins in remission is not sins blotted out. That doctrine is contrary to Paul?s doctrine, which says Christ died for ALL of our sins, and by whom (Jesus Christ) we (in the body of Christ) have NOW RECEIVED the atonement. The atonement for Israel, according to Peter, is at the second coming.

When the Lord revealed to Paul that he should go up to Jerusalem, at the time of Acts chapter fifteen, and COMMUNICATE UNTO THEM that gospel that I preach, you can see Peter witnessing the same ?endure to the end? message of salvation for those Kingdom Saints. As a matter of fact, Peter stands up and gives an account of his LONE SERMON to Gentiles. There is no bible record that Peter ever preached to a Gentile other than what Peter talks about here:

Acts 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.

Acts 15: 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;

Acts 15: 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Now some believe that since Peter said there is "no difference between us and them" that this means Cornelius is in the body of Christ. Usually, those who believe that believe that Peter is also in the body of Christ. But that cannot be so. Peter is not in the body of Christ and there is "no difference between us and them." If Cornelius is in the body of Christ here, then so is Peter and so is the entire Pentecostal church. If Peter and those from Pentecost are in the body of Christ then God is the author of confusion, and that cannot be. The doctrine written by Peter in 1 and 2 Peter is quite contrary to the doctrine written by Paul in Romans through Philemon. There is no way you can believe and obey the doctrine written by Peter while at the same time believe and obey the doctrine written by Paul. (A classic example of the difference, and there are dozens of them, is a comparison between 1 Peter 2:9 and Galatians 3:28. One is about a ?holy nation? while the other is about a ?joint body? in which there is no nationality.) The truth is, as in verse Eleven, Cornelius SHALL BE SAVED. There is NO DIFFERENCE in the salvation of Cornelius and the salvation of Peter. Both must endure to the end:

Acts 15: 11 But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

When is it that Peter believes that they SHALL BE SAVED?

1 Peter 1: 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Now James verifies this in verse sixteen and seventeen, when he quotes from the Prophet Amos. The DAY in view in the passage is the second coming of Christ:

Amos 9: 11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

Amos 9: 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

According to prophecy, Christ will return again and Israel will be exalted above all nations, will be a kingdom of priests and an holy nation, and Gentiles will be taught (teach all nations as in the so-called ?great commission?) by the priests of the Lord, the people of Israel. The church, the body of Christ, is not the subject of prophecy. Such a thing as a joint body of believers made up of both Jews and Gentiles, all equal in one body, is something that is foreign to any prophecy in the Old Testament. The body of Christ is not in the Old Testament. So one man says, well he was in the body of Christ.....he just didn't know it....but God did. Well, faith cometh by hearing. How can you have faith in something you have never heard? Cornelius never heard the gospel of Christ, didn't believe the gospel of Christ and was not in the church, the body of Christ.....he was "enduring to the end".....just like Peter. He, and Peter, will be resurrected....and enter the kingdom. Paul?s message is different. In Paul?s gospel, Jesus Christ endured to the end IN YOUR BEHALF.

The Gospel of the Kingdom was to be preached in all the world, beginning at Jerusalem. When Stephen was stoned to death the offer of NATIONAL REPENTANCE to Israel was withdrawn, but the offer of salvation based on the gospel Peter preached was not. After Stephen was stoned to death, all of the believers at Jerusalem were all ?scattered abroad? except the apostles, here are some of the events leading up to Peter?s one and only sermon to Gentiles:

Acts 8: 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

Acts 8: 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Acts 8: 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8: 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Acts 8: 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Will the Samaritans enter the kingdom? Yes. Phillip preached the same gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch and he was baptized WITH WATER. Will he enter the kingdom? Yes. Now we come to the account of Cornelius:

Acts 10: 1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

Acts 10: 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Cornelius heard Peter preach, believed what Peter said, was baptized WITH THE HOLY GHOST.....not by the Spirit into the Body of Christ.....and was also baptized with water. Six other Jews had gone with Peter to the home of Cornelius and they all heard them speak with tongues, the SIGN to the Jews that Cornelius had the same baptism that they had. The power to endure to the end. Will Cornelius enter the kingdom? Yes.

Peter had Apostolic authority throughout the world until the time of Acts Fifteen. The record shows, however, that Peter never went anywhere. He stayed in Jerusalem. Their ?great commission? had a specific order of business. It was FIRST in Jerusalem, according to the Lord?s instructions in Acts 1:8. They never finished that job. All of the twelve apostles remained in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They were prepared for and looking for the second coming of Christ and the Kingdom being established. What happened with Peter?s encounter with Cornelius prepared Peter to stand and defend Paul?s ministry later on. At the meeting in Acts 15, Peter, James and John "perceived the grace that was given to Paul" as in Galatians Chapter Two, verse nine. By a handshake, because of the revelation given to Paul, they agreed to go only to the circumcision.....and so after that time, Peter had no authority among Gentiles. (Anyone who claims to follow Peter, or James or John should furnish bible proof for the authority to do so.) At the time of Acts 28:28 he had no Apostolic authority at all....anywhere. So during the time period of the book of Acts, there were two groups of people, two bodies of following Paul and Paul's doctrine and the other following the rule of the Kingdom Apostles. The doctrine to each of the groups was different.

The Kingdom program faded away during the book of Acts while Paul's ministry increased. As a matter of fact Paul said in Collosians 1:24 that his gospel was preached to "every creature under heaven." That couldn't have been Peter's gospel because the Lord said, in Matthew 24 that the gospel of the kingdom would be preached in all the world and then the end would come. Now you will notice in your bible that there is no record of any of the Kingdom apostles, in other words, Peter and the 12, having any preaching ministry after the time of Acts chapter twelve. At that time, James, the brother of John, was killed by the sword and Peter was arrested and put in prison. An angel freed Peter from what was to be certain death and the bible says that Peter ?went to another place.? We are never told where that place was, and the only thing you know about Peter, or any of the 12, after that time is that they wrote letters to the Kingdom believers.

But Paul said, in Romans 15:20 that he strived to preach the gospel where Christ was not named, lest he build upon another man's foundation. The foundational truth that Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification was different than the foundational truth that Peter preached to Cornelius, that through Jesus Christ he would receive remission of sins. Sins in remission is not the same as sins blotted out. The blotting out for the Kingdom group, for the ?little flock,? is at the second coming of Christ. In Paul's gospel, the believer is eternally secure by faith in the finished work of Christ, but in Peter's gospel, as he preached to Cornelius, WORKS of righteousness were involved and enduring to the end was required, in order to be a partaker of the atonement AT THE END.

Those in Hebrews 3:6 had to hold fast their confidence to the end and in verse fourteen they would be made partakers of Christ "if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast to the end." There is a big IF in that Hebrews salvation and it stands in stark contrast to Paul?s doctrine of being ?complete in Christ.? (Collosians 2:10-14) Even though they were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, having "tasted of the heavenly gift......and the powers of the world to come" it was possible for them to FALL AWAY and could not be "renewed again." Now some claim this is talking about the apostate nation. No, this is talking about people WHO HAVE BEEN RENEWED BUT CANNOT BE RENEWED AGAIN.  In Hebrews 10:26 it is clear that they could not commit a WILFUL SIN and still be saved.

I John 1:9 says, concerning those kingdom believers

(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Some people use the verse to promote a ?salvation maintenance program? for members of the body of Christ. The truth is that 1 John is not even written about the body of Christ, but is about Israel?s priesthood in a tribulation context. The cleansing that John writes about is the cleansing IN THAT DAY of Zechariah 13:1. It is associated with the second coming of Christ. When a person is cleansed from ALL unrighteousness there is no more need for a ?daily, weekly or monthly cleansing? as some claim. 1 John 1:9 stands in contrast to Collosians 2:13.

And in I John 5:16 "there is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." An example of that would be Annanias in Acts Chapter Five who sold some property, but instead of laying it at the apostles feet....he kept back part of the money and lied to God about it. Paul says that greed is a form of idolatry. Annanias.....and his wife....fell down dead because they lied to God. Not slain in the spirit....slain BY THE SPIRIT! Wilful sin was DEATH then and so will it be in the Kingdom. The overcoming power is available to the Kingdom believer....but the choice is always his.....and HE CAN FALL AWAY. Hence, at the end of his life, Peter writes:

(2 Pet 3:17 KJV)  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

Peter's gospel to Cornelius in Acts Chapter Ten is NOT YOUR PATTERN. Here's yours:

(1 Tim 1:15 KJV)  This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

(1 Tim 1:16 KJV)  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Paul wrote Timothy to charge some that they teach "no other doctrine" and to "be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ." The revelation of the mystery pertaining to the church, the body of Christ was committed to Paul, not to Peter. Peter said that the things Paul writes are hard to be understood. Peter?s doctrine is a TIME PAST message that is decidedly different than Paul?s.

Spiritual things are words, according to the Lord, and in I Corinthians 2:13 Paul says "we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth but that which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. When you compare the WORDS spoken by Peter with the WORDS spoken by Paul they are clearly different. Cornelius NEVER HEARD PAUL'S WORDS. He heard Peter's words and was saved by faith in what he heard. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.