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ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. He was obviously chosen by God. Peter said in Acts 10:34 "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:" Romans 2:11 "For there is no respect of persons with God". Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Romans 8:30 "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." Romans 9:16 " So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."
Before I go on to answer this question I wish to make it quite clear that I believe that no person can become a Christian by good works. What I am about to say is not at all meaning a person can be saved by works. Cornelius was a man that feared God and though his works were greatly honored by God it only made him a candidate for the Gospel but not as though his good deeds could save his soul by any means. What it does prove however that we do have the capacity by an act of free will to accept the Gospel when we hear it before we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Act 10:4 And he was gazing at him, and becoming terrified, he said, What is it, lord? And he said to him, Your prayers and your merciful deeds have come up for a memorial before God. This Scripture teaches us that God seeks a man like Cornelius because of his heart attitude and his actions. This is confirmed by the apostle Peter explains what God has revealed to him in Acts 10:35. Act 10:35 but in every nation he who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted with Him. This Scripture right here is proof that God accepts those rare individuals that have a fear of God and do kind deeds that reflect their desire for God. All those good deeds done by Cornelius were done in his unregenerate state yet the Angel tells him that all he did in that regard was received as a memorial in heaven. Though this was true, none of those deeds could give him salvation. God still had to bring him through the door Jesus Christ by grace and through faith. It is a fact that God reveals Himself to some in this way before they are brought into the Church. I refer to an awesome testimony of a Lady Named Gulshan Esther. This woman was a Muslim and the daughter of a Muslim spiritual mufti. Her mother and father died and she had polio. She was cared for by her auntie and she prayed to God and asked to die because of her miserable state. Jesus appeared to her and totally healed her. She presented herself to her relatives and they were enraged when she witnessed to them that Jesus healed her. Then she was led by the Holy Spirit to a Church to completely obey the call to discipleship. God goes to people and they are connected because they fit the same category as of Cornelius as was revealed to us by the apostle Peter. This is sound irrefutable truth that we would do well to accept. If there was any time for God to demonstrate his grace and mercy it was here. God’s ways are not our ways and our ways are not God’s ways. He could have looked for a depraved miserable filthy dirty criminal and saved his wretched soul from their pitiful state. It was not the case. God fetches a man that was already fearing God and doing great deeds of righteousness. Everything that happened to Cornelius was an act of God calling him and instead of the angel coming and declaring, “Listen Cornelius, why are you trying to be good in your own strength? God isn’t impressed by your charitable actions. In fact they stink before His holy presence. Your a dirty filthy rotten sinner and nothing you do can get His attention. So stop trying you fool and realize you only get this salvation because He chooses randomly and forces you to believe whether you want it or not.”. Oh no that is not what happened at all. God honors him for his good deeds and through the inspired words of Peter was going to bring others in any nation “that fear God and work righteousness" in the exact same way.
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