Acts 10: 21-23
As Christians, we have chosen church as our path to eternal life. But is it really the only way? What about the people who believe differently, or may not believe at all, but do much more good than us? There are different opinions on this matter. But all our speculations can neither open nor close the gates of heaven.
Today’s sermon is about Cornelius the centurion. He is one of those who sometimes make us doubt the uniqueness of our path. Despite not being a Christian, Cornelius knew that there is one God, and was a “devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God.” One day an Angel appeared to him. Knowing about the righteousness of Cornelius, he could have said something like, “Cornelius, you have pleased God and now you are saved and may enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”
But instead the angel says, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” Cornelius called Peter and heard about Jesus Christ, His incarnation, His earthly life, His crucifixion “for us men and for our salvation” and about His resurrection. While Cornelius was listening, the Holy Spirit descended on him, and he received holy baptism from the Apostle together with his family.
This example clearly shows that it is neither faith in the One God, nor prayers, nor charity that saves us, but only the faith in the incarnate and crucified Lord Jesus Christ. The door of salvation is opened only by His Blood, and we enter this door only through holy baptism, the way that He Himself commanded us.
The Lord wants salvation for everyone. He commanded Peter the Apostle to “consider no single person as profane or unclean.” The search for God is never in vain, and neither are the good deeds. But all of this only testifies before God that our soul is alive and not hopeless. He will send His messenger to show the door of salvation to those who sincerely and diligently seek it. But it is impossible to bypass this door, which is Christ, because only He is the Way, Truth and Life.
So, our question should not be just out of idle curiosity, as to who will be or will not be saved. The question should be: how can I myself be saved? And then, like Cornelius, we may be considered worthy of saving ourselves, our homes and many around us.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds