From Power to Proclamation to Prayer

June 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 14 Comments
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When God used Peter to heal the lame man in Acts Chapter 3, this man had a wonderful reaction.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Acts 3:6-8

Note that the Scripture says he was praising God, not the Holy Spirit. God is triune. He is one God in three Persons. However, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to bring praise to Jesus, not to the Holy Ghost Himself. (See John 16:12-15.) There are probably some local churches today which place too little emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Ghost, but there is no doubt that there are many charismatic and Penteocostal local churches which unbiblically sing praises to the Holy Ghost to the exclusion of God the Father and Christ the Son.

There is a sense in which this leaping, praising man is a picture of all Christian believers. He was lame. All of us came into this world lacking the ability to walk in a way which was pleasing to God. When Adam sinned, we say he “fell.” When Adam fell, we all fell, and, like the lady in the medic alert commercial, we had fallen and “could not get up” under our own power.

This man was begging alms because he was poor. We were all poor in relation to our inability to pay the debt we owed God – the sin debt.

This man was seated near the temple, but he was outside the temple. All of us were born “outside.” We were outside of the righteousness of God. And no matter how close we came to believing the Gospel message, until we did in fact believe, we were still “outside.” Like the lame man, there was a period when some of us were “so near, yet so far.”

But when this lame man was healed, he was healed instantly. Salvation, the fact of being “born again,” happens in a moment. One moment, you are lost, a child of the devil, bound for hell – the next moment you become a child of God, indwelt by His Spirit, with a home in Heaven. Like the lame man, we should all publicly identify ourselves with God when this happens.

Note that Peter did not use this miraculous healing episode to start a “healing and deliverance conference” focused on curing diseases and healing infirmities. Instead, he used the occasion of God’s power exhibited toward this lame man to convict the hearers of their sin.

And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Acts 3:17-18

These verses show God’s marvelous blending of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. The rulers were accountable for crucifying Jesus, but God had ordained that the Crucifixion must come to pass, and had even foretold it in the Old Testament.

Our finite minds can not comprehend much about God’s divine sovereignty and the concept of human accountability. Both are taught clearly in Scripture. When Charles Spurgeon was asked how he reconciled the two, seemingly contradictory, ideas, he said that he never tried to reconcile good friends.

We get the impression that the first Christian church consisted of a very busy group of individuals. They had a passion for the Word of God, and they were empowered by the Holy Ghost. When these things concur among believers who are in strong unity, many miraculous things happen. It’s just a shame that they all had to share one Honda. (“And they, continuing daily with one “accord…” Acts 2:46) Okay, I know that’s corny, but I couldn’t resist. It’s Joke # 3 in the Official Preacher’s Joke Book. (Joke # 2 is telling everyone in the congregation to turn to “Hezekiah” Chapter 3.)

Acts Chapter 4 contains what might be my favorite Bible verse. It was one of the verses read at my ordination service:

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

The verse not only shows the power and exclusivity of Jesus’s name, but it highlights the absolute insanity of rejecting the only name in the universe that can truly help a lost person.

And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

Acts 4:14-17

There was the proof of the power of Jesus’s name standing right in front of them! But these Jewish leaders still did everything they could to deny it!

Facing persecution, the early Church members turned to prayer. This is the beginning of a prayer that is based on Psalm 2:

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Acts 4:24

It is a prayer that is remarkable for the way in which it seeks to glorify God, and for its unselfish nature. Notice that the Apostles did not ask God to change their circumstances.

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Acts 4:29

Instead of asking God to change their circumstances, they asked Him to change their reaction to the circumstances. I love this submission to God’s power and providence. The Greek word translated as “Lord” in Acts 4:24 is despotes – what we would call a “despot” or “tyrant.” When is the last time you humbled yourself before Christ as your LORD, and not just as your mechanic, doctor, therapist, or ATM machine?

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