Cornelius Receives the Holy Spirit
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!" And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do." And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four- footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, " Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."
And a voice spoke to him again the second time, " What God has cleansed you must not call common." This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate. And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there.
While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."
Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, "Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?" And they said, "Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you." Then he invited them in and lodged them.
On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him.
And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man." And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?"
So Cornelius said, "Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you. So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God."
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
Do we all remember Matthew 28:19-20:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen?
Here we see the next part of the fulfilment of these verses spoken a number of months previously. Peter would have known these words; he even may have been wondering what they actually meant. In today's chapter we see the event that makes the Matthew verses all possible. We read the whole chapter as it cannot be looked at in parts. We saw God working in two households simultaneously, and the Holy Spirit enabling two men to meet in order to carry out the next phase of Christ's plan; the spreading of the Gospel to all the nations.
Are there any lessons in this for us today? After all you are probably gentiles, I am not sure about all your ancestry, and you have received from the Lord the gospel which now has become Christ in you as well as Christ cloaking you. Our passage today is the historical event that led to what we have today in our churches, yes? As I look at this passage a number of interesting applicable things come to mind, which we can look into today. We cannot do the chapter verse by verse, it is not practical in Australia, though in Africa or China, one could do such a sermon, whether it took two or even four hours to complete! But here we live by schedules and the schedule is pretty set, so let us move into some of those things we can learn from the chapter.
As we learned last week, the fact that Peter was staying with Simon the Tanner, in Joppa is again mentioned. Again it emphasises the significance in that one of God's main leadership group was staying in a house of someone who has a smelly job; the less than congenial house, though perhaps the prevailing wind from the sea drove the constant stink of rotting meat away from the house. One cannot suppose that Peter spent all day in the house, perhaps he helped Simon do a few skins, scraped some of the leather clean of its hairs. He certainly spent time preaching and teaching those around the place. But he chose to stay with a poor, and maligned man. I say the latter, for they were living on the outer of society in order to produce a product all folks used - leather, especially in footwear. Again, this passage is a healthy reminder to us that we too need to mix with all Christians, and make no exception, especially if someone is not of our social status. Perhaps it was easier for Peter being a fisherman used to the smell of fish, especially if in summer when the cleaning and scaling would have produced a quickly rotten mess, however, again, for us, this is not an excuse. We must be diligent in our equality with all men, mixing with whomever God has for us to mix with, in order to delve into the Scriptures with them, and do that which God wants us to do, with our neighbour, whoever this may be.
You may wonder why I have returned to this point having laboured it last week. However, it is the thrust of the passage this week. Let us firmly establish that the vision of Peter was not so much about eating various meats that were not kosher (I use this term we tend to have an understanding of what this means, even in Australia), nor is it really about God overturning the Old Testament laws on kosher activities, rather, it was about relationships, and how a Jew must view all other nations and peoples. He needed to remove from his psyche and thinking the stigma that he held against anyone not Jewish. (I put in parenthesis here that these verses do not take away from the Jew their unique and special relationship with God, they are a chosen people, a special people, people that God established as His people, and His chosen race). However, now we see the Gentile being brought into the same adoption as the Jew, that of being children of God, with the same salvation, the same reward of heaven, and the same sainthood and priesthood. It is a strange balance, for on one hand the Jew is special, but then again, we gentiles have the same promise, without the ancestral heritage of being chosen and part of the covenant that God made with Abraham. However, this is not the intent of today's lesson. Today we need to look at how we interact with the world around us, and how our piety and spiritual snobbery can stop us being Christlike in our walk, and therefore stop us fulfilling our own pathway set before us by God, of reaching out to those around us the Gospel.
First though, let us run through the two visions. God appears to Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, one of those people that were occupying the land as part of the Roman Empire, and ruling force. He was from the other side. He was not from these parts; in fact, we read that he was Italian. What does God say to Cornelius? "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God." Imagine that, prayers and alms - God has recognised these two aspects of Cornelius's dedication in serving of God and they are a memorial before God. What does this mean, and what should it mean to us? Leviticus tells us in chapter 2 verse 2: He shall bring it to Aaron's sons, the priests, one of whom shall take from it his handful of fine flour and oil with all the frankincense. And the priest shall burn it as a memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord. The word used here in Leviticus is the same as the word used in our Act's verse for memorial. What Cornelius was doing was a sweet aroma to the Lord. The Lord appreciated his actions, which are two important aspects of the Christian life - prayer, that is, our communion with God, our communication we need to have constantly and consistently in all parts of our living, in order to tell God the troubles, the joys, and the thoughts of our hearts and minds, so we in return can hear what God has in response to those things.
Consider these verses related to prayer: ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' Jeremiah 33:3 - the wisdom of God comes from prayer, we learn stuff we would never learn any other way. Prayer may have challenges in when you have time, or space to get together with God - ‘Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.' Mark 1:35
Now I am not a morning person; this is something I would struggle with, but Jesus did it for he was surrounded by people during daylight hours, and therefore, he could only get alone with His Father before others awoke. Prayer also calms us, allows us to think clearly, to get on with the work before us, the problems that beset our ways, the pain and troubles of the days: ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God' Phil 4:6. Sure, God does not automatically remove pain, suffering, sickness, problems, but He carries the burdens for us, we don't need to do it alone.
The second action was giving of alms - something that is a great way of meeting the second commandment - love your neighbour as yourself. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:3 God tells one how to do it - not even your left hand need know what the right hand is giving!! What do we give God? Are we unlike Cornelius and more like the people 400 or so years before Christ, in their alms giving, or tithes? “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:8-10 However, we see that Cornelius was known for both prayer and alms giving, and as such, God sends an angel to him to tell him of God's pleasure in what it was that Cornelius was doing. Would that not be something in our lives!
What is most interesting is the angel's actual words. A commentator noted that he knows Cornelius's name, his dedication and actions towards God, Peter's name, who Peter is staying with, the address, and what Cornelius is to do. Nothing is left to chance. Cornelius is told exactly his next steps after the angel leaves. As an aside, one can note that Cornelius is afraid when he sees the angel, but unlike the times we read in the Bible the angel saying do not be afraid; this angel does not, he just gets on with giving the message. God knows what Cornelius needs in order to believe, so gives enough information for this to occur, and Cornelius asks no questions, just does the will of God. Is this a lesson for us? How many times do we start to question what is before us, whether this is God's will, whether we are on the right pathway. The difference I think is our relationship with God. We have a relationship that probably needs some repairs, we have a faith that needs to be strengthened, we don't quite trust God. We want to hold onto power in the direction of our own lives just a little bit, or maybe a bit more than that, not willing to hand it all over to God. Cornelius basically does what a well-trained soldier would do - he salutes and says yes Lord, whatever it is you are saying I will do - metaphorically speaking, but that is what occurs.
The next portion of Scripture switches to Peter the next day. Peter was on the roof top, whilst visiting Simon, and was praying. It was noon, that is lunchtime, and he both was hungry and in a trance, a state of mind produced by God, so that he could have the equivalent of today's light and sound show - but God's style. God lowered for Peter out of heaven a large sheet as it were holding a whole heap of different animals. The voice of God said "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." Peter says no way, and God repeats the exercise three times. There are no further references to how Peter responded the second and third time - he seems to need three repeats to get the message. Even then Peter wondered what was going on. He did not have long to wait. For the men sent by Cornelius were knocking at the door. God did not let him think too hard either, and gave Peter strict instructions: “Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them."
This is an interesting contrast to Cornelius, for Cornelius does not say “What? Why? No, I'm not sending anyone to collect a Jew to visit? He said yes Lord, and sends three men, and they get to Peter the very next day by lunch time. So in a space of less than 24 hours - for Cornelius received his communication through the angel at three in the afternoon - his men were knocking on the door of Peter at midday, after hurrying 50 km or so. Peter has received a vision - where he saw: ‘all kinds of four- footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.' We too may have wondered what God was on about telling us to kill and eat, and who knows what was on that sheet, was there giraffe, or hyena, maybe a crocodile, emu or kangaroo. Peter had eaten a pretty narrow diet, so hearing God say this, and repeat it three times, with animals he may have only heard about in children's stories when he was a kid, we do not know - he would have wondered what God was on about, noting his first answer was a firm no.
So what was it all about? We know the reason because we know the whole story. We know that it wasn't really about food, or eating different meats; though that message was in there, for God gave a multi-layered message. He was certainly pointing out to a man used to orthodoxy that this was no longer the way to live. But this was more a message about people. The Jews had lived separate lives and despised many that surrounded them. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan - a classic story Peter had heard when with Jesus, but what had he applied from this to his current life? As we contemplate this, and before we judge Peter, the question is also ours - am I living a life based on all I have been taught through Scripture? The answer is too convicting so let us see what Peter himself tells Cornelius: "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?" This is an interesting statement for there are numerous verses in the Old Testament that tells the Israelites to worship only the Lord their God and not follow after other's idols, not to take up with other's abominable religions, and even to war against and kill every man woman and child of various nations when they encountered them in the battles to take control of Caanan. But of the unlawfulness of a Jewish man keeping company with a non-Jew - there is no such law.
Genesis (12:1-2) has God speaking to Abraham:
Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
However, this was hundreds of years before the Children of Israel became established and were a nation. Abraham had still to leave his home country for a totally different country; one God was preparing for him. Did this statement hold true for the State of Israel? However, we can read in Deuteronomy chapter 10:17-19:
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Here we see that Israel had to love the stranger, which included feeding, clothing them, and caring for them. Would this not to be alongside of them? Would this not be to be with the non-Jew? Another verse that is worthwhile remembering whilst thinking on this matter comes from Isaiah 46:6:
Indeed He says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'
Peter must have known this, but had never really lived it; he lived by the law, he stated; but a law made up by man, not by God. More remarkably, Peter had been with Jesus and knew about the woman at the well. Further, as another example they had stayed in Samaria for two days and he would have seen how Jesus lived the Old Testament precepts perfectly, including feeding those of other national heritages, speaking to the woman at the well about the living water, and his own bread of life. Peter's statement was not true nor based on Scripture.
However, Peter's lights came on and he realised what Jesus had talked of, and realised what God wanted of him. So now he was in the home of the hated Romans wanting to know why he was there. Think of his three Roman companions: they walked the 30 odd miles, perhaps they had horses, but it seems not as there were at least six of them in the party including Cornelius's men who returned the next day all the way back to Caesarea. We know that this is what occurred as we read: Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. What faith we have here, Cornelius knows that by the time they got to Joppa, they would need to rest a little, and they would be coming straight back. These guys had stamina, and Peter and some friends do a bit of fast walking themselves. They all arrive at Cornelius's house when he was expecting them too, and not only that, his faith was such that he was willing to invite the relatives and friends to ensure that not a moment is wasted with Peter, and maximum exposure is had.
Let us stop a moment here and wonder what we can learn from this and the modern church. How often does God talk directly to us here in Australia? He does in other countries. Maybe we should consider the question - why are so few saved here in a country where Christianity is not persecuted, yet many are willing to take on Christ in China, or Indonesia, where life is not so easy for Christians? That aside, who is willing at the drop of a hat to go the same equivalent distant (considering we have cars) just because a stranger has asked us for spiritual help? Sure, some of us have jobs, families or responsibilities. Have we become so much like the world, that this is how we live, restricting our movements, slowing our mission work? Some churches have travelling brothers and that is what they do. They frequently travel, attend meetings, encourage one another and preach the gospel, supported in part by those that love them and care for them, and most of all, love the Lord and support His work. But still I wonder, is our, or is my heart in this mission work? Am I in tune with God that he either sends me to help someone, or thanks me for my attention to Him, and sends a believer to enhance my spiritual life? I don't think I want for myself the real answer.
We now move to the part that God really had in mind; it was not orchestrated to demonstrate a couple of miracles of God speaking to two people in two different towns and they can come together and make friends, having a nice chat, maybe a meal together, and perhaps even staying the night. No, God was ready for phase two of the Church. Up to this stage in the history of the church, it was mostly Jews or converts to Judaism, as we saw at Pentecost, being converted to Christianity (though it wasn't called this yet), and being baptised by the Holy Spirit, who formed the church. The verses were we read about Abraham has not come to pass, nor these verses we find in Amos chapter 9:11:
"On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name".
Nor in Hosea chapter 2:23:
Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, 'you are My people! 'and they shall say, 'You are my God! '.
Of course Peter was there when Jesus said (as recorded in Acts1:8): “…you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Peter preaches the gospel having ascertained what it was that Cornelius wanted. This is a verse one can smile about - the ways of God! He such an incredible player of people, God really at times plays with our minds so we understand His better, I am sure. Cornelius, on being asked - why did you get me to come, answered “therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God." Peter had received a message to go see Cornelius and God made sure he understood that he was to preach to Gentiles, and in this case, Roman soldiers and their families being of Italian in heritage. But we also see that God did not tell Peter what the mission was, just that he had one. Peter therefore had only one option. He did not start a discourse on doctrine, the ways of the Jews, the history of the chosen people, why he Peter a Jew was part of God's people, nor that fact that Cornelius and Romans in general were trespassing on the Jewish inheritance given to them by God! You may think that I am speaking out of turn, however, in a conversation with Jesus just before Jesus went to heaven, and immediately before the statement already quoted about being witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samara and the ends of the earth was the other conversation: “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) If Peter was not there to assist in getting the kingdom back, it must be for only one other purpose - the present the gospel to all people. The Romans could become part of the Kingdom, the real Kingdom; that headed by Jesus Christ. Peter therefore, with wisdom only that can come from God stood and preached the Gospel (verses 34 - 43). In our Bibles, this is exactly 217 words (in my version, 9 verses; 180 words in the Greek). We have read them once today, I suggest you go home and re-read so if anyone calls you to preach the gospel, you already have the 217 core words to speak.
Essentially Peter told them these things:
1. God - He is Lord of all;
2. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth and God was with Him as he did good works, defeating the devil;
3. Those that He worked amongst and for, killed Him by hanging Him on a tree;
4. We saw him resurrected on the third day - we know this because he spoke to me and many others;
5. He commanded us to preach this fact to the people - that Jesus is appointed Judge over all; and
6. Whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.
We see the gospel as first identifying with God, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, God's anointed one. It includes the works and activities of Jesus, including being a defeater of the devil, the death of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ - which Peter witnessed plus many other, the fact this story needs to be spread, for whoever believes on the Lord Jesus will be saved from their sins. Simple really! A story that has many witnesses as being true.
What happened next? God did His work! His servant spoke and God poured the Holy Spirit out on the people present.
God uses the gift of speaking in tongues to ensure the witnesses to this pouring of the Holy Spirit out on the Gentiles understood what had occurred, that the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life comes to all people. Luke writes that those of the circumcision (the Jews) were astonished. Why? Because, though they knew that this was the plan, they never really knew and their eyes were not opened; they had lost the meaning of Jesus's words in translation there being no connectivity between what was already known, and how they preached, practiced or even their thinking!
We then see Peter baptising them all - we see no prayers of repentance, we see no calls to the altar, we just see God at work, and the people accepting and being taken into His kingdom without a question or need for speech. Undoubtedly prayers were being uttered by those that the Holy Spirit had entered, for one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to pray those prayers we don't know how to utter. Baptism comes after the work is done; it therefore a symbolic act that shows the completed work of Christ in remission of sins. The message has now reached the Gentiles, and we are ready to see the Word go into all parts of the world.
Are there life lessons for us and the church in this last portion? Again, I will raise the question: when was the last time you saw a 217 word sermon result in the room all at once accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour? When was the last time you saw the work of the Holy Spirit work with such conviction in such a setting? If not, why not? One reason may be because you have not been in the right part of the world for this to happen. As already mentioned, Australia is dead spiritually. Have we the enthusiasm? Maybe this is not a fair statement, and God works in different ways in different areas, because of the stubbornness of the heart in those areas. How many people in Australia are ringing church pastors asking them to come over because they and a household of friends and relatives want to hear the gospel? God never changes, His ways are perfect, so if we do not see God working in our churches and lives as we see here in the early church, the question must be raised, and our hearts must be examined. The more I think on this contemplate on the Word, see what is happening elsewhere, search my own heart, and somehow, I think that we cannot divorce ourselves from the lack of great spiritual work in our churches. I am talking of true working of the Holy Spirit, with wisdom and the Word of God being expounded in such a way that there is a queue to hear it. Are we excited when we reach into the Word of God? Are we so enthused at preaching the Word we walk 50 odd kilometres to do so, at the whim of a stranger (actually - God working in Him)? Do we hunger for the Word when we have not been in it for a few hours, or is it days, or months? What do we say to others when we see them? What do we write when we write to others about God? Maybe, we can learn from some of the various authors that God has given us, note what creates joy and worship in them:
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. Paul writes in Philippians: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.
Peter writes in 1 Peter:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials. John writes in 3 John: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Jude writes: To God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.
What do we write? How do we express the gospel? How well do we shine forth in real joy, real conviction, real enthusiasm, that shows our love for the Father, and for our Lord and Saviour. When have we truly heard and followed the voice of the Holy Spirit within? This is the lesson for us all. Reaching out to others may take a little effort - Peter walked 30 miles to meet with perfect strangers, and the enemy as it were. Being recognised by God for our prayers and our charity is obviously a blessing that we should have ,for it is not hard to emulate.
Let us leave this place with the words of Paul to Timothy as the key for our week in serving the one we profess to love, honour and obey:
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2-5
Let us pray.