The worldwide Church - Page 3
The men sent by Cornelius
While Peter was wondering what this meant, three men arrived at the gate of the house and asked to see him. When Peter went down he found that one of the men was a Roman soldier. Peter asked why they had come, and they told him. They had been sent by a centurion or sergeant-major of the Roman Army who was stationed at a place called Caesarea 30 miles along the coast. His name was Cornelius and he was a good man who attended the synagogue services although he was not a Jew himself. The afternoon before he had had a strange experience. An angel had appeared to him, telling him to send men to Joppa and fetch Simon, who is called Peter. The angel said that Peter was staying with Simon, a tanner, in his seaside house (Acts 10:3-6).
When he heard this, Peter asked the men to stay the night and the following day they set out for Caesarea. He now understood the vision: the sheet stood for the Church which God meant to contain people of all nations, Gentiles as well as Jews.
Cornelius and his friends are baptised
When they reached Caesarea, Cornelius met them and, bringing them to his house where many of his friends and relations were waiting, asked Peter to talk to them. Peter began by telling them about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but before he had finished the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come to the Apostles themselves at Pentecost. When Peter saw this, he had them baptised immediately. Thus for the first time people who were not Jews became members of the Church.
The worldwide church
Since then, men, women and children in all parts of the world have been baptised and have become members of the Church like Cornelius and his friends.
We must always remember to pray that the Church in this country and throughout the world may grow, and that more and more people may come to know and love Jesus. We must also not forget to help the Church with money. In some countries, Christians do not have enough money to pay for churches and schools and hospitals themselves and they need our support.
For all these people who belong to the Church, wherever they may be, are our Christian brothers and sisters, and we must help them and pray for them and ask them to pray for us.
1. As Jesus died that all might have the opportunity of being saved, so his Church is open for people of all nations to join.
2. The first members of the Church were all Jews but, since Cornelius and his friends were baptised, people from all races have been baptised and are members.
3. These members are our Christian brothers and sisters, and we should help them by our prayers and, when needed, our money. And we should ask them to pray for us.