Nana Yaw Aidoo
If Cornelius and his house were saved before baptism, then they were:
Saved Without Faith in Christ
After Peter’s encounter with the Gentiles had rendered fellow “Jewish Christians” unhappy (Acts 11:2), Luke records that in trying to explain the incident, “…Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them…” (Acts 11:4). This clearly proves that Luke’s own report of the conversion of the first Gentile converts to Christianity in Acts the tenth chapter, was not the order in which the events happened.
In giving the order in which the events happened, Peter revealed that as he “…began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). Notice the word “began.” It is translated from a Greek word that means “to commence (in order of time)” (Strong’s Greek). What this means is that, Peter had barely spoken a word when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles. The apostle at a later time, made known how God chose him to be the mouthpiece by which the Gentiles “should hear the word of the gospel, and believe” (Acts 15:7). Yet, in the house of Cornelius, he had barely began preaching the facts of the gospel when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles.
Therefore, if Cornelius and his house were saved before baptism, when “God gave them the Holy Ghost,” then they were saved without hearing the gospel and thus they were saved without belief in Christ since from Peter’s mouth, they had to “hear the word of the gospel, and believe” (cf. Rom.10:17).
Saved Before They Were Told What to do to be Saved
Notice if you would that Cornelius was commissioned to send for Peter so he and his house would be told what to do to be saved. “…call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter…he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do” (Acts 10:5-6). “…call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:13-14).
From the foregoing, we see clearly that the Gentiles had to be told what to do to be saved by Peter (cf. Acts 15:7). We know however that they had heard almost nothing from Peter when the Holy Spirit fell on them (see Acts 11:15). Did God go back on His word? Did He grant salvation to the Gentiles, when He had in effect said, “no words from Peter, no salvation?” (Acts 11:15)? If Cornelius and his house were saved before baptism, when the Holy Spirit fell on them, then they were saved before they were told what to do to be saved.
Peter, who was sent to tell Cornelius and his house what to do to be saved, commanded that they be baptized (Acts 10:47-48). We wonder why an apostle would command that which is non-essential to salvation, if denominational preachers are to be believed. This same apostle would later write in an epistle; “…baptism doth also now saves us…” (1 Pet. 3:21). Now watch carefully. If it is the case that baptism saves us, and if it is the case that Peter was sent to tell Cornelius and his house what to do to be saved, then clearly, Peter was sent to tell Cornelius and his house to obey the gospel, a course of action which culminates in baptism (cf. Acts 2:38; Rom. 6). Little wonder, then, that Peter who was sent to tell Cornelius and his house what to do to be saved, “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
While it is true that the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his house before they were baptized, to assume that this was proof of their salvation is to make a false assumption. If Cornelius and his house were saved before baptism, when the Holy Spirit fell on them, then they were saved without faith in Christ and before they were told what to do to be saved. That which proves too much proves nothing.