Miracles & The Church - Acts 3:-4:4 NIV
Lots of questions about miracles. Hopefully we discover some answers from Acts 3 today.
#1 - The challenge: _________________________ .
“Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.” Acts 3:2 NIV
“Lame from birth.” Not the result of an accident. Not recently. The way this man has always been. He was born this way. We have a word we use today - “Congenital.” Most likely he lived in the same place he was born. Everyone knew him and knew his condition. How would someone like that survive. Only one way - beg. Most profitable place - temple gate. Everyone wins. He received means of survival. Others receive righteous feeling before going to church. It was all automatic. Routine. He didn’t have to look at people and they didn’t have to look at him. That’s why Peter stops and says, “Look at me.” Today would be different!
#2 - The new currency: ________________________ .
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Acts 3:6 NIV
Money has always been the common denominator. Still is. I can take anything and divide it by currency. Our wages. Our costs. Our prices. Our goods and services. Rather than barter or trade directly, we earn and spend money. Peter says something very important for us in the church age. Money is no longer our common currency. Some of us have money. Some of us do not. That’s the currency of the world and the world’s way. But the church will have a new currency - God’s power. Works done in the name of Jesus of Nazareth! As Christians filled with God’s Holy Spirit we all have this. Different gifts. Different ways of serving. Peter’s way would be to perform the very first miracle in the church age…
#3 - Four results of miracle:
R - ____________________________ .
“He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” Acts 3:8 NIV
The man with the congenital lameness was not just healed by a little bit. He was completely restored. It wasn’t a slow process. It was immediate. He didn’t limp. He walked. And then he jumped. And then he started dancing! Praising God! He had no doubt at all that a miracle had happened. Consider this - He was an adult and yet he had never taken his first step! Now suddenly he was stepping, jumping & praising!
A - _________________________ .
“When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” Acts 3:9-10 NIV
Wouldn’t you be filled with wonder and amazement too? Not something you see in the news. Not something someone tells you about. Someone you have known as lame all your life. Personal. You’d want to know more
G - __________________________ .
“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.” Acts 3:13 NIV
Here we come to the ultimate purpose for miracles - still true today - to bring glory to Jesus. Yes, healing is a blessing to the one who is restored. From God’s perspective, though, all things and people will ultimately be restored. A miraculous healing is just a small picture window into the larger landscape of what God is accomplishing - and it’s marvelous! Worthy of praise and worship! While we worship God in every way and every person - the focus of our attention is upon the 2nd person of the Godhead - Jesus! It was in HIS NAME (reputation and honor) that this man was restored. And it is to THIS NAME that all glory is bestowed.
E - ___________________________ .
“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” Acts 3:16 NIV
We must always put words to the miracle. The why? Otherwise people will just fill in the blanks with their own worldview. The whole purpose of the miracle is to give glory to Jesus and that does not happen without words. (Consider this the reason God gave words to humankind!)
Everything we talked about in weeks 5 and 6 about preaching we see here again. Peter again sets the example. He leads. He relates. He knows his Bible. He is moved by God’s Spirit. He focuses on Jesus. He personalizes the gospel. He teaches the Trinity. He convicts. He preaches life change. It’s all here in Chapter 3 just like chapter 2. With very similar results…
#4 - Two responses: R.A.G.E. or ___________________ .
“They were greatly disturbed… but many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about 5,000.” Acts 4:2,4 NIV
The first result is “very disturbed” - the initials of our results - R.A.G.E. Not everyone responds favorably. We should be prepared for this. Those who go into the preaching ministry - or anyone who shares their faith with someone else - should understand that this is never about being liked or affirmed (at least not by other people.) Verse 3 tells us that the religious leaders imprisoned Peter and John overnight. There will always be people who don’t like the message of the gospel. There will always be people who will respond with anger, with derision, with laughter, with ridicule and scoffing. “How could you possibly believe THAT?”
But understand this - the gospel does not return void! Some WILL believe. We’re told that in this second of Peter’s sermons that many who heard his message believed and that the total number of men who believed in Jesus grew to about 5,000. Do you remember the number who believed at the end of Peter’s first sermon? 3,000 men (2:41) So a little math tells us that 2,000 more men were added in this 2nd sermon.
Conclusion - God had a reason for the this first miraculous healing of the lame man. The church of believers grew by 66% (2,000 / 3,000). The result was also an overnight jail sentence for Peter and John. Imagine their uncertainty that evening. They didn’t know the end result. It could have been their execution. Their lives were quite literally in God’s hands. What about you today? Do you look for God to do miracles? He still does. But He also needs faithful people to put words to those miracles.