Great Gospel Meeting At Caesarea
Gospel meetings have been around for as long as the church has existed. The very first Gospel meeting ever conducted was on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). This day of Gospel preaching gave birth to the church of Christ. They had an excellent preacher (Peter); a powerful message (the Gospel of Christ); a good audience (Jews from all over the world); and spectacular results (3,000 were baptized in one day). Philip, the evangelist, preached a Gospel meeting in the region of Samaria (Acts 8). Gospel preaching had a tremendous effect on the people who heard it there.
Acts 10 records that an angel of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, a Roman centurion, and the apostle Peter, combined their efforts to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. The angel prompted Cornelius to ask for Peter's help. The Spirit commanded Peter to go to Caesarea with Cornelius' servants. Cornelius himself was busy inviting his friends and relatives to attend the meeting (Acts 10:24). Isn't it amazing that Cornelius was a soul-seeker even before his own conversion?
After exchanging a few brief remarks between them, Cornelius said to Peter, "Now therefore we are all here present before God, to hear all things commanded thee by God." (Acts 10:33). Are there not lessons in this disposition for us? Will we exercise as much concern for our meeting as Cornelius did for his? Will we be as interested in inviting friends and family to our meeting as Cornelius was to the meeting in Caesarea?
Cornelius sent for the right kind of preacher. He did not send for Jewish teachers of the law, Pharisees, or Sadducees. Peter was called for because the angel knew he would speak words of salvation (Acts 11:13,14). We expect the same from our preacher in this meeting.
It is also worthy of note that Cornelius was glad Peter came. He thanked him for being in Caesarea (Acts 10:25,33). He was pleased that a Gospel preacher would be there to speak to him and his family and friends. Sometimes, Gospel preachers are not welcome! Some would rather not have a Gospel preacher speak to their kinsmen and near friends. Could it be that we are ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? Thankfully, Cornelius was not so disposed. In fact, Peter was encouraged to preach anything God had commanded. Cornelius was not interested in speculative theories, philosophy, psychiatry, or other rhetoric. He wanted God's commands preached! Our preacher in this meeting will be free to preach what God expects us to know.
Finally, the Caesarean Gospel meeting was conducted in the "presence of God" (Acts 10:33). Do we not get the idea here that this was a respectful, reverent gathering? They were aware of God's presence among them. Would there have been any habitual late-comers in this crowd? Were any of them inattentive to the things preached? If they sang or prayed, don't you suppose they did so worshipfully? Our meeting must be conducted with the knowledge that we are gathered together "in the presence of God."
This ancient Gospel meeting was a great event for many reasons. There was a great preacher, whose chief interest was truth and its unswerving proclamation. There was an interested audience. There was a reverent audience. There was an evangelistic spirit, spurred by Cornelius' personal invitations to the meeting. The meeting was so edifying that these Caesareans asked Peter to stay and preach some more (Acts 10:48).
Our congregation begins a Gospel meeting today. How much like the Caesarea meeting will ours be?