Sermon Quotes: "Bridging the Impassible Gulf"

“In this chapter we will explore how to read and preach the most prevalent genre in the Bible. Narrative is not the most important genre just because it is the most prevalent, but if you do not understand the basics of this genre, you will be greatly limited. Completely limited! For even the non-narrative parts of the Bible take their place within the overarching metanarrative that unifies the Bible. The central character in the organizing story of the Bible is God…The acts of God constitute the plot of the master story of the Bible. And every creature interacts with this divine protagonist…’Tell me a story’ is perhaps the most universal human impulse. We live in a story-shaped world, and our lives themselves have a narrative quality about them. We universally resonate with stories! Do you want to connect with your congregation? Of course. Then don’t underestimate the power of comprehending and communicating God’s uniquely designed stories to people made in his image. You will find no more promising sermon material than the stories God gave to his church and world.” Douglas O’ Donnell & Leland Ryken

“It is difficult for us to grasp the impassable gulf which yawned in those days between the Jews on the one hand and the Gentiles on the other…Israel twisted the doctrine of election into one of favoritism, became filled with racial pride and hatred, despised the Gentiles as ‘dogs’, and developed traditions which kept them apart. No orthodox Jew would ever enter the home of a Gentile, even a God-fearer and no pious Jew would have sat down at the table of a Gentile. This, then was the entrenched prejudice which had to be overcome before Gentiles could be admitted into the Christian community on equal terms with the Jews, and before the church could become a truly multi-racial, multi-cultural society.” John Stott

“Philip was not one of the Twelve and did not eat with the eunuch, nor did the official live in the Holy Land (and hence risk further contact with Judean Christians) as Cornelius did. The conversion of Cornelius, by contrast, would establish a precedent, one that many of Peter’s colleagues would consider dangerous…The issue is not just a Gentile’s conversion but the church’s fuller conversion to Jesus agenda in Acts 1:8.” Craig Keener

“What Peter has to learn is that it is no longer appropriate to apply the distinction of clean and unclean to what you eat, or with whom you eat.” David Cook

“What needed to be resolved for Peter was not whether the gospel was for Gentiles, but how they could receive it in view of their ‘uncleanness’ in Jewish eyes and be one with Jewish believers in the fellowship of the church. In practical terms, Jews and Gentiles could not share food and shelter. By means of the issue of hospitality, Luke demonstrates that the conversion of the first Gentile required the conversion of the church as well. Indeed, in Luke’s account, Peter and company undergo a change that is more wrenching by far than the change experienced by Cornelius.” David Peterson

“Cornelius means no harm, but Peter cannot leave any ambiguity as to who is to be venerated.” Craig Keener

“Peter refused both to be treated as if he were a god, and to treat Cornelius as if he were a dog.” John Stott

“It would change your whole heart and life this very night if you would take Peter and Cornelius home with you and lay them both to heart. If you would take a four-cornered napkin when you go home, and a Sabbath night pen and ink and write the names of the nations, and the churches, and the denominations, and the congregations, and the ministers, and the public men, and the private citizens, and the neighbors, and the fellow-worshippers-all the people you dislike, and despise, and do not, and cannot, and will not love. Heap all their names into your unclean napkin, and then look up and say, ‘Not so, Lord, I neither can speak well, nor think well, nor hope well, of these people. I cannot do it, and I will not try.’ If you acted out and spake out all the evil things that are in your heart in some such way as that, you would thus get such a sight of yourselves that you would never forget it.” Alexander Whyte