Jan 21

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In this sixth article on the subject: “The Mystery of the Holy Spirit,” we shall examine one of the more popular cases of conversion; as it appears to many folks to have all the “mystery” elements within it. It is the case of the conversion of the household of Cornelius which is covered by the inspired Luke in Acts chapters ten and eleven.
We are looking for “the modus operandi of the Holy Spirit” in conviction, conversion, and sanctification. In order words, is there a method of procedure; especially: the distinct pattern or method of operation of the Holy Spirit in these three areas revealed in the New Testament? So far, we have learned, and here is a good place to recall, that once a truth has been discovered, then, it is always true in all such cases! As in, if we learn that one must believe, have faith, to be saved, then, it is always the case that in all reports of people being saved; their having faith is understood, stated or not! Therefore, recall the words of Hebrews: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Then, Jesus said: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). The text does not have say, though it generally does, that people believed who were being saved. The same is true of repentance; Paul said: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). Can anyone be saved without repenting? No! The inspired writer may say nothing about the person being saved, that he repented; but if he is saved, then, he repented! So, it is with “the modus operandi of the Holy Spirit” in the cases of conviction, conversion, and sanctification; if he worked one way, then, this is the way he works in all cases! Truth is always truth!
Now, turning our attention to the conversion of the household of Cornelius and it is most important to keep in mind, it was not just Cornelius but he “had called together his kinsmen and near friends” (Acts 10:24). When Peter arrived at the house of Cornelius, Cornelius said: “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:33). They were not looking for “the mystery of the Holy Spirit” but they were ready to hear words from the inspired Peter! It is here that Peter said: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). The salvation of Cornelius and his household depended on their being able to “worketh righteousness!” Here recall the power of God unto salvation: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17). God’s “righteousness,” which is the same as “justification,” is revealed in the gospel; therefore, it was necessary for Cornelius to hear the gospel, if he was to “worketh righteousness” and this is what Peter was going to teach! The gospel is necessary but Peter said nothing about any “mystery of the Holy Spirit” at the household of Cornelius!
Yes, the Holy Spirit did come up on Cornelius and all that were with him, but he did not come to convict, convert, and sanctify not directly, but indirectly, through the words of Peter! In chapter eleven of Acts, Luke reports that Cornelius was told by an angel to send to Joppa for one Simon Peter; and now read with care these words: “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14). The “words, whereby thou … shall be saved” is the gospel, which is God’s power unto salvation!
My friends, please do not belittle the gospel of Christ, God’s power unto salvation! This is, though it may not be stated or even understood, what is being done when he depends on “the mystery of the Holy Spirit” in conviction, conversion, and sanctification. Here is a question to ponder: “If the gospel does not have the power to bring one to conviction, conversion, and sanctification, just what it the purpose of the gospel?”

Frank R. Williams

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