Paul's Passing Thoughts

Acts 10: Reformed Theology and the Problem With Cornelius

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on March 19, 2015

Originally posted October 3, 2012

I was asked recently what I thought the primary key to discernment is. I answered this way: one of the major keys is daily Bible reading. If nothing else, read through the Scriptures and get a general idea of what is going on.

When you do that, you discover that things you hear from the pulpit may need a little bit more consideration and thinking.

We know the Reformed drill. Man is totally depraved. He can’t do anything to merit salvation. You’re either chosen, or not chosen. We can’t do anything to please God—all of our works are as filthy rags before God, and so forth.

So, as you are taking my advice, drinking some morning coffee and reading through Acts 10, you’re stopped dead in your tracks and immediately realize why Luther hated reason so much.

We read the following there:

1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

Um, is it just me, or does this kinda throw a monkey wrench in the whole “all of our works are filthy rags before God” routine? Now, heretics like Paul David Tripp would quickly step forward and say, “That text needs to be seen in its gospel context.” Oooookay. So, somehow, in the “gospel context,” “memorial” really means “filthy rags.” Right.

Furthering the complexity leading to a need for more consideration is the question of whether or not Cornelius was officially saved when the angel made this statement.

Watch out for neatly arranged theological systems. Especially Reformed ones.

And read your Bible daily.

paul

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