We are saved in the same manner as Cornelius
The method that saves every Christian saved Cornelius and his household. "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they" (Acts 15:11). The salvation of Cornelius was the rule and not the exception. He was not saved by extraordinary events but in the same manner experienced by every Christian.
Now, was the baptism of the Holy Spirit common or uncommon? We demonstrated earlier that it was an oddity. It had only happened once before on the day of Pentecost. And, we have no record that it ever happened again after Cornelius was baptized in the Spirit. In addition, we know that both baptisms of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 and Acts 10 were accompanied by miraculous signs, such as speaking in other tongues. We know that all Christians did not have the ability to speak in tongues and that some had no gifts at all. The baptism of the Holy Spirit could not have the means by which Cornelius and his household were saved since Peter said they were saved in the same manner as all other Christians.
How then were other Christians saved?
- Christians are saved by grace (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:5).
- Christians are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8).
- Christians are saved by confession (Romans 10:8-10).
- Christians are saved by repentance (Acts 3:19).
- Christians are saved when they repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38).
Did Cornelius experience things which were common to other Christians?
- Cornelius received grace (Acts 15:11)
- Cornelius believed (Acts 15:7)
- Cornelius was granted the opportunity to repent (Acts 11:18)
- Cornelius magnified God, thereby confessing (Acts 10:46)
- Cornelius was baptized in water (Acts 10:47-48)
All of this resulted from Cornelius and his household hearing the word of God (Acts 10:44; 11:13-15). The means by which Cornelius was saved, was taught in the word of God. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain" (I Corinthians 15:1-2). Satan doesn't want you to have this word because it will save you from his clutches. As Jesus taught in the parable of the sower, "Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8:12). This is why Paul declares that the gospel contains the power of salvation. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
Cornelius was saved just like you and I. Yes, he experienced several unusual events. He was visited by an angel, but few today claim that you need to see an angel to be saved. His preacher saw visions, but few today would claim that a preacher needs to see a vision before he has permission to teach you the gospel. His preacher was commanded to preach the gospel to him. He was baptized in the Holy Spirit, which only occurred once before in the history of the church. So why do people pick out one exceptional event and then claim it as a rule for salvation? It is especially strange when God through Peter said that Cornelius was saved like everyone else. All Christians were baptized. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4). This is why Peter, the same Peter who commanded the baptism of Cornelius, stated, "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).
Cornelius was saved in the same manner. Are you saved like Cornelius?