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The Simple Gospel

God is No Respecter of Persons

The Bible quotation that is the title of this article is language used in the King James Version of Acts 10:34. There, Luke records, "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." KJV). Modern translations would use the phrase that God “shows no partiality” (NKJV) or “is not one to show partiality” (NASB). Just for clarity’s sake, understand that the modern translations more accurately state the premise. Some have misunderstood the ancient language to mean that God has no respect for mankind indicating some disdain for man. Nothing could be further from the truth. God sent His only begotten Son to the earth in order to save man. God so loved the world, not disdained it.

That initial point dealt with, let us now look into what Peter said and why. The situation in Acts 10 is the record of the conversion of the first Gentile to the gospel of Christ in the person of Cornelius, a Caesarean army officer, a centurion. This was a man of a good reputation as well as powerful military rank. For verification of these details, please see and read Acts 10 and 11 in their entirety. The significance of the events recorded in these two chapters is seen in that up to this point in time the apostles and the initial converts maintained their Jewish bias against all Gentiles and considered them unworthy of a relationship with God, and certainly not with themselves, as the Jews were the chosen people of God. This bias was misapplied, but God had a plan to overcome their prejudice and show them a better way. Peter, a servant of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ as well as a devout Jew, was a tough nut to crack. This would not be the only time he had a problem with prejudice against Gentiles (See Galatians 2, beginning at verse 11). God had a way of dealing with tough nuts, too.

Through a series of events involving God, His Spirit, and certain of His angels, Cornelius, this Gentile, called for Peter, this devout Jew, to come to the house of Cornelius in order that Peter could speak to Cornelius along with his invited gathering of family and friends about God and the matter of salvation from their sins. Peter had it in his mind that going to the house of a Gentile was unlawful before God. Under a different law and in a different time, it had been, but under the law of Christ, such a prohibition had been lifted. Peter and the rest of the Jewish Christians not only had permission to go to the Gentiles, but were being commanded to do so. God, through a vision, had shown Peter that no longer were Gentiles to be considered unclean. Peter thus did exactly what he had been called to Caesarea to do, and that was to preach the gospel. The household of Cornelius, having heard the good news of a risen Savior, received that news with faith and obeyed the command of water baptism for the remission of their sins so as to be saved.

The conclusion that Peter had to reach within himself so as to go to the home of a Gentile with a clear conscience is that indeed God is no respecter of persons. What are some applications we can draw from this truth?

Racial prejudice is sin. The social ramifications of Peter entering the home of Cornelius were at that time revolutionary. Acts chapter 11 is the record of Peter having to answer to people in Jerusalem for his actions in Caesarea in regard to Cornelius. Only the direct operation of the Holy Spirit was sufficient to convince Peter and his company that God endorsed their being present in that home and the preaching of the gospel to Gentiles. With that divine endorsement, Peter continued. God is indeed no respecter of persons. The kids’ song is right. “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Of course His love does not change at all when they grow up into responsible adults. God had decreed that the children of Israel maintain their lineage pure for the perfection of the genealogy of the Messiah. Once Messiah had come, died, been raised from the dead and ascended to Heaven, there was no need for the maintenance of that old provision. Likewise, there is no need for there to be racial prejudice today. It is a problem in our society and a problem in our world. For Christians to maintain any hatred based on race is absolutely sinful. For Christians to show partiality based on race is likewise sinful. Jesus taught in John 7:24; "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." (NASB). "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:15-20; NASB). We know people by their fruits, not by their appearance.

God has not revealed different truths. The Bible is the complete and final revelation of God to man. I have lived my life defending this position. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Jude 3; 2 John 9-11; James 1:25; 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 et. al. all support this position concerning the Bible being total and complete. Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians 15:8 that “last of all” Christ was seen by him. Jesus has not appeared to Oral Roberts, or Joseph Smith, or any other so called latter day prophet to tell them something more, less or different than the Bible. Nor has God imparted to any so-called believer some good feeling about salvation outside of the truth of the Bible. Intelligent and otherwise rational people can read the Bible and understand it. They can understand its teaching about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. They can read and understand its teaching about morality. They can read und understand from the Bible the necessity of faith, repentance and the confession of faith in order for men to be saved. Yet, when it comes to the Bible command to be baptized into Christ in order to have our sins forgiven, these intelligent and otherwise rational people lose all sense of reason opting to rely then on their feelings that they were saved before their baptism. Why is that? It makes no sense whatsoever.

God does not exempt some from His law. When Peter announced that God was no respecter of persons, he also said, “but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:35; NASB). It matters not if you are a white, middle-class businessman in the ‘Bible belt’ of the United States or a jungle dweller in Africa or South America, or a veiled Arabian woman in Kuwait, the principle of Acts 10:35 applies. The command of Mark 16:15 to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature is still enjoined on God’s people. The principle of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) that every man is our neighbor still demands that we treat all people alike and that all people are subject to the law of God. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17; KJV). “Whosoever will” says that the gospel is for all mankind. Its benefits are available to all. Its commands are applicable to all. Whoever wants to live forever in God’s house will live by God’s rules. As it is in your house, so, too, is it true in God’s house.

God is not one to show partiality. He does not play favorites. There are no “teacher’s pets” with God. "'Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.' Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?' Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.'" (Acts 2:36-39; NKJV). For over 2,000 years now, the Lord has been calling people by the same gospel as Peter here preached and as he preached in the house of Cornelius. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He and He alone has the right to direct our lives. He is Lord. He is Christ, God’s own anointed. Based on who He is, and what He has done, we owe our allegiance to Him in all things.