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The Heart Of The Gospel

10:34-43 So Peter opened his mouth and said, "In truth I have come to understand that God has no favourites; but that in every nation he who fears him and acts righteously is acceptable to him. As for the word which God sent to the sons of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ--this is he who is Lord of all you all know the affair that happened all over Judaea, after the baptism which John preached--you know about Jesus of Nazareth, about how God anointed him with the Spirit and with power, about how he went about healing all who were under the sway of the devil because God was with him; we are witnesses of all he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they took him and hanged him on a tree. It was he whom God raised up on the third day and made him evident, not to all the people but to the witnesses elected beforehand by God, to us who were with him and who ate with him and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he gave us orders to preach to the people and to testify that this is he who was set apart by God, to be the judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets testify that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

It is clear that we have here but the barest summary of what Peter said to Cornelius which makes it all the more important because it gives us the very essence of the first preaching about Jesus.

(i) Jesus was sent by God and equipped by him with the Spirit and with power. Jesus therefore is God's gift to men. Often we make the mistake of thinking in terms of an angry God who had to be pacified by something a gentle Jesus did. The early preachers never preached that. To them the very coming of Jesus was due to the love of God.

(ii) Jesus exercised a ministry of healing. It was his great desire to banish pain and sorrow from the world.

(iii) They crucified him. Once again there is stressed for him who can read between the lines the sheer horror in the crucifixion. That is what human sin can do.

(iv) He rose again. The power which was in Jesus was not to be defeated. It could conquer the worst that men could do and in the end it could conquer death.

(v) The Christian preacher and teacher is a witness of the resurrection. To him Jesus is not a figure in a book or about whom he has heard. He is a living presence whom he has met.

(vi) The result of all this is forgiveness of sins and a new relationship with God. Through Jesus the friendship which should always have existed between man and God, but which sin interrupted, has dawned upon mankind.

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