God is not one to show partiality
Acts 10:24-48 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
On the following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” 27 As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. 29 That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.”
30 Cornelius said, “Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, 31 and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”
34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.36 The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— 37 you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. 38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 40 God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. 43 Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.
Christians are often criticized for being intolerant and not inclusive for believing that it is only through Jesus that anyone can have relationship and fellowship with God. In today’s text it says: Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” The fact that God has set forth parameters for how people are welcome to Him, does not make Him intolerant or not inclusive. In fact, that He determined that there would be one way; the same way for all to be welcome, is the ultimate impartiality. In John 14:6 Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Those who reject the parameters set by God and Jesus; the parameters believed by Christians are actually the ones who show partiality. That there would be any unequal method used to determine who is welcome to God, would be the ultimate of partiality.
Some will argue and try to make a case for those who have never heard the gospel; never heard of Jesus. I would say that is not my problem nor is it the problem of those who make the argument. Obviously they have heard of Jesus and are disputing the parameters set forth by God. For those who have not heard, it is up to God to determine how they can be welcomed based on the impartiality of God. Perhaps though, we can look at the example of the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus. Luke 23:39-43 says: One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Do you suppose that in the same way that Christ was revealed and the one was welcomed into paradise, even in his last moments of life, that the God who gives every person their every breath and numbers our days, could not reveal Christ even to those who have never heard the gospel message? An omnipotent, omniscient and impartial God will do what is necessary to maintain His impartiality. The impartiality of God does not accept or excuse our sin. Jesus sacrifice on the cross forgives and redeems us from our sin, regardless of who we are or what we have done; if we believe. In the text Peter says: He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.
In Acts 4:12 Peter said: There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. These are not words of an intolerant radical Christian. They are words spoken in agreement with the one who is the way, Jesus Christ. His impartial sacrifice on the cross is the way of salvation for all. If you have read this and heard the gospel message you cannot hold the argument any longer that God’s parameters are unfair to those who have not heard who Jesus is. Let the impartial God of creation determine how to reveal Jesus to each one. As for you, just believe.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit for Your love, Your grace and Your forgiveness; all of which You gave impartially and freely, through the cross, to all who believe. Amen.