"So Peter opened his mouth and said: 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be 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.” - Acts 10:34-43
I love this chapter. Cornelius is so humble, so ready to receive the gospel message. God chose him and his companion to be the first ever Gentiles to receive the Holy Spirit because of his unusual humility toward the God of Israel.
This chapter goes far in answering the question, What about those who have never heard? If a person is humble toward God, based on general revelation (creation and conscience), God will find a way to get the gospel message to that person, no matter when or where that person lives. God can use dreams, visions, angels, the Holy Spirit, or missionaries. He's got several options to choose from. In Cornelius' case, he used an angel (v. 3) and Peter (v. 5). God directed Peter by his own voice (v. 13), by messengers sent from Cornelius (v. 17), and by the Holy Spirit (v. 19). It is not difficult for God to reach the unreached who are seeking him. See the Order of Salvation diagram below.
Peter's message quoted above is brilliant in its simplicity. Notice how historical it is. He simply states the facts about Jesus and that forgiveness of sins is available through him.
God shows no partiality. The gospel of Jesus is for absolutely everyone (v. 34).
Father, thank you that the Holy Spirit has been poured out even on the Gentiles! What a tremendous gift to be forgiven my sins and to have received the Holy Spirit, simply through faith in the person and work of Jesus. None of us deserves your grace. But you love to pour out blessing on sinful man. Jesus has made this possible. It all goes back to the cross and empty tomb. Thank you, Father! In Jesus' name, amen.
- Jeff Coleman