34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they[e] killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
I didn't want to break up the last part of the story. Yesterday we ended with Peter asking Cornelius why he sent for him and with him answering that God wanted them to hear what Peter had to say.
Peter opens with the declaration that with God there is no partiality and that people from any and every nation who serve Him are accepted by Him. He then presents Jesus to them as the slain and risen Messiah. As he is preaching the Spirit of God that fell on the disciples at Pentecost falls on the entire gathering in the home of a Roman centurion in Caesarea. The watching Jews who came with Peter from Joppa are in shock. Peter exclaims "Can anyone forbid these from being baptized who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit just as we have?"
Do you see what just happened? Do you see the bigger picture? God sent for Peter before Peter was even ready. God prepared him as the men from Cornelius' home were on the way! The message was just as much or more for Peter as it was for anyone else. The opening line of his sermon was a truth he was just beginning to grasp. The powerful manifestation of God's Spirit falling on these "heathen" was a message from God to His church. The message was crystal clear. "Open the doors. All the doors. Withhold nothing from anyone. All people are My people."
One last interesting note. Everywhere in Acts and beyond the Spirit is given after baptism by water. This story is the only exception. Why? Because God took matters into His own hands. He did for these "foreigners" what His church would not have done. He dynamited a huge wall so dramatically that not one who was there could deny it.
Equal means equal. Same means same. All means all. God is our Father - every nation, kindred, tongue, and people!