Is it enough to believe in God to be saved?
Is it enough to give in the offering?
Is it enough to do good works?
The simple answer is "no"!
Cornelius is mentioned in the tenth chapter of Acts. The first two verses describe him and his devotion to God.
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
Cornelius was an influential and important person. He was an officer in the Roman Army with 100 men under his command. The Bible says that he was "devout" meaning "pious". He "feared" or revered God and placed a lot of money in the offering. He had a life of prayer.
Cornelius would be a church going, tithes paying believer in Jesus Christ that fill so many churches today. That was not enough.
Cornelius did not have the New Testament and he was sincere in what he believed, and God gave him a vision of an angel. The angel could not preach to Cornelius. He was told to send for Peter. Peter had the keys to the kingdom and had already opened the door of salvation to the Jews (Acts 2) and the Samaritans (Acts 8).
What about Cornelius' walk with God did not save him?
This question is revealed in a conversation that Jesus had with a man named Nicodemus in John 3.
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
There is no doubt that Cornelius was a wonderful person with a heart for the things of God, but he had not been born of the water and the spirit. This experience would be documented at the end of Acts 10.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.(Spirit)
46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (water). Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
The New Birth experience was repeated with another devout group of followers in Acts 19. Paul did not question their belief, but he did question their experience. Experiencing the infilling of the Holy Ghost and being baptized in Jesus name is necessary step in your Christian walk just as it was for Cornelius.
The Bible does not have a you do it your way and I will do it mine plan of salvation. We are "saved" through grace and obedience to the Word of God. If Cornelius had to do more, shouldn't we?
If you have questions concerning the New Birth please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find a church that teaches the New Birth at www.UPCI.org.
Have a Happy New Year!