Is the Gospel inclusive or exclusive?
A good Jew would’ve never entered the home of a Gentile. But there he stood, breaking cultural rules soaked in animosity.
In the first century, Christian Jews assumed that Gentiles must follow the Law of Moses (including dietary regulations) in order to follow Christ. But God said, “Don’t call anything ‘unclean’ that I’ve created,” in Peter’s rooftop vision.
Imagine if a voice from heaven told you to slap your mom, or go to a strip club. You’d think it was a trick, a test. Surely God wouldn’t command such things. What God told Peter shook his core.
God brought two men, who loved Him, under the same roof; their backgrounds could hardly be more different: Cornelius, the Roman Centurion, and Peter, the Jewish Christ-follower.
In one brief sermon, Peter answers the question, “Is the Gospel inclusive or exclusive?”
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35).
The Gospel is inclusive. The message of salvation is for ALL people. Everyone is invited, regardless of ethnicity, cultural background, family, economic status or past. God desires to walk with ALL people, now and eternally. The book of Acts tells how the Gospel kept expanding. We read of Jews, men, women, priests, and an Ethiopian submitting to Jesus. And now, Gentiles. James gave practical application:
“The rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name…It is my judgement, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:16-19).
The Gospel is inclusive. But that’s not all.
Cornelius was a centurion. Centurions served Caesar. Caesars often demanded more than loyalty, they demanded worship. They made claims of divinity.
Peter did not sidestep the issue. While everyone is invited, Jesus is THE WAY.
“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all…All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:36, 43).
Following Jesus requires absolute submission. Jesus is the Lord, not Caesar. Cornelius must choose. Centurions thought of themselves as doers of good, peace givers and powerful judges. But Peter makes his point: Jesus is the good messenger of peace, and he will judge the world.
The Gospel is exclusive. Suggesting that submission to Jesus isn’t necessary belittles the cost of sin, the crucifixion of Christ and the hope of the resurrection. Those who make such claims swim in arrogance, presuming that their thoughts are higher than those of God.
Those who teach the so-called Gospel of Inclusion seemingly forget that the original message of Jesus cost the disciples their lives. The Gospel offends people because it says that higher conscious and good intentions won’t save you; Jesus saves. Diminishing the necessity of Jesus is about as loving as not warning someone that they’re about to drive off a cliff.
Love holds hands with truth, always.
The Gospel is inclusive. And exclusive.
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