SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW)


Chapter 10

Heaven Is Near to the Seeker of Souls—In the tenth chapter of Acts we have still another instance of the ministration of heavenly angels, resulting in the conversion of Cornelius and his company. Let these chapters [8-10] be read, and receive special attention. In them we see that heaven is much nearer to the Christian who is engaged in the work of soulsaving than many suppose. We should learn through them also the lesson of God's regard for every human being, and that each should treat his fellow man as one of the Lord's instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His work in the earth (Manuscript 17, 1908). 6BC 1059.2

1-4 (Philippians 4:18). Prayer and Almsgiving as Sweet Incense—[Acts 10:1-4 quoted.] It is a wonderful favor for any man in this life to be commended of God as was Cornelius. And what was the ground of this approval?—“Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” 6BC 1059.3

Neither prayer nor almsgiving has any virtue in itself to recommend the sinner to God; the grace of Christ, through His atoning sacrifice, can alone renew the heart and make our service acceptable to God. This grace had moved upon the heart of Cornelius. The Spirit of Christ had spoken to his soul; Jesus had drawn him, and he had yielded to the drawing. His prayers and alms were not urged or extorted from him; they were not a price he was seeking to pay in order to secure heaven; but they were the fruit of love and gratitude to God. 6BC 1059.4

Such prayer from a sincere heart ascends as incense before the Lord; and offerings to His cause and gifts to the needy and suffering are a sacrifice well pleasing to Him. Thus the gifts of the Philippian brethren who ministered to the needs of the apostle Paul while a prisoner at Rome, are said to be “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” 6BC 1059.5

Prayer and almsgiving are closely linked together—the expression of love to God and to our fellow men. They are the out-working of the two great principles of the divine law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”; and, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Thus while our gifts cannot recommend us to God or earn His favor, they are an evidence that we have received the grace of Christ. They are a test of the sincerity of our profession of love (The Review and Herald, May 9, 1893). 6BC 1059.6

1-6 (Hebrews 1:14). Ministering Angels Note Each Individual—That same Holy Watcher who says, I know Abraham, knew Cornelius also, and sent His angel with a message to the man who had received and improved all the light God had given him. The angel said, “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter.” Then the specific directions are given, “He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.” Thus the angel of the Lord works to bring Cornelius in connection with the human agent through whom he might receive greater light. Study the whole chapter carefully and see the simplicity of the whole transaction. Then consider that the Lord knows every one of us by name, and just where we live, and the spirit we possess, and every act of our life. The ministering angels are passing through the churches, noting our faithfulness in our individual line of duty (Letter 20a, 1893). 6BC 1059.7

Earnest Seekers Not Left in Darkness—Here we are given positive evidence that the Lord does not leave in darkness those who follow all the light given them, but sends His angels to communicate with them. Cornelius was living in accordance with the instruction given in the Old Testament Scriptures, and the Lord sent a messenger to tell him what to do. 6BC 1060.1

God could have given Cornelius all the instruction he needed by the angel, but this was not His plan. His purpose was to place Cornelius in connection with those who had been receiving knowledge from on high, whose work it was to impart this knowledge to those seeking for light. Thus God always deals with His people.... 6BC 1060.2

Cornelius obeyed the instruction given. He united with the church, and became a useful and influential laborer together with God (Manuscript 67, 1900). 6BC 1060.3

God Uses His Appointed Agencies—[Acts 10:1-4 quoted.] The angel did not give him the light that he might have given him, but directed him to take a course whereby he might come into connection with one who could tell him precious truth.... [Acts 10:5, 6 quoted.] 6BC 1060.4

Cornelius implicitly obeyed the instruction, and the same angel went to Peter, and gave him his instructions. This chapter [Acts 10] has much precious counsel in it for us, and we should study it with humble attention. When the Lord has His appointed agencies whereby He gives help to souls, and men disrespect these agencies, and refuse to receive help from them, and decide that they will be directly taught of God, the Lord does not gratify their desire. The man who takes such a position is in danger of taking up with the voices of strangers, and of being led into false paths. Both Cornelius and Peter were instructed what they were to do, and they obeyed the angel's word. Cornelius gathered his household together to hear the message of light from Peter. If he had said, I will not be taught of any man, the angel of God would have left him to himself; but this was not his attitude (The Review and Herald, October 10, 1893). 6BC 1060.5

Many Today Like Cornelius—There are many today who are in the same position as Cornelius. They are living up to the light they have received, and God speaks to them, as He spoke to Cornelius, and brings them by His appointed agencies to the place where they will receive the truth into good and honest hearts. God reveals Himself to those who are striving to form characters that He can approve. The prayers of those who fear Him, who recognize their obligations to Him, are heard and answered. The Lord takes special notice of those who walk in the light that He has given them, who testify by their deeds that they are trying to honor God. Through a Peter He will present the pearl of great price, and through a Cornelius and his family many souls will be brought to the light (The Review and Herald, August 8, 1899). 6BC 1060.6

By the wonderful works of God, Cornelius was led to bring his energetic, faithful life into connection with the disciples of Christ. Thus shall it be in the last days. Many will prize the wisdom of God above any earthly advantage, and will obey the Word of God as the supreme standard. These will be led to great light. These will come to the knowledge of the truth, and will seek to get this light of truth before those of their acquaintance who like themselves are anxious for the truth. Thus they become conscientious light bearers to the world. Themselves constrained by the love of God, they will constrain others, and will improve every opportunity to invite and urge others to come and see the beauty of the truth, and to give their abilities to advance the work of God (Manuscript 97, 1898). 6BC 1060.7

Some who are numbered among merchants and princes will take their position to obey the truth. God's eye has been upon such as they have acted according to the light they have had, maintaining their integrity. Cornelius ... maintained his religious experience, strictly walking in accordance with the light he had received. God had His eye upon him, and He sent His angel with a message to him. The heavenly messenger passed by the self-righteous ones, came to Cornelius, and called him by name (Manuscript 97, 1898). 6BC 1060.8

Much is said concerning our duty to the neglected poor. Should not some attention be given to the neglected rich? Many look upon this class as hopeless, and they do little to open the eyes of those who, blinded and dazed by the glitter of earthly glory, have lost eternity out of their reckoning. Thousands of wealthy men have gone to the grave unwarned. But indifferent as they may appear, many among the rich are soul burdened.... 6BC 1060.9

Riches and worldly honor cannot satisfy the soul. Many among the rich are longing for some divine assurance, some spiritual hope. Many long for something that will bring to an end the monotony of their aimless life. Many in official life feel their need of something which they have not. Few among them go to church, for they feel that they receive little benefit. The teaching they hear does not touch the heart. Shall we make no special appeal to them? 6BC 1061.1

God calls for earnest, humble workers, who will carry the gospel to the higher classes. It is by no casual, accidental touch that the wealthy, world-loving souls can be drawn to Christ. Decided personal effort must be put forth by men and women imbued with the missionary spirit, those who will not fail nor be discouraged (The Review and Herald, April 6, 1911). 6BC 1061.2