In my younger days, I was desperate to see the power of God, I longed for more. I probably claimed miracles that I fear had more to do with wishful thinking. I was in search of not just signs and wonder but for assurance and proof that what I believed is real and true and that what I gave up was worth giving up. That the Jesus I trusted was indeed alive.
Today we will the find the assurance we are all looking for and why don`t have to pretend. The story begins in the temple.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. ~Acts 3:1 (NIV)
These new Jewish Christians followed the pattern of prayer of the Jews and 3 times of the day they spent in prayer at the temple. At the temple we find one desperate man:
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)
He was disabled from birth for over 40 years, so powerless he had to be carried and so desperate he was forced to beg. He was placed near the gate called “Beautiful” that was marked with an enormous bronze artwork, hoping visitors would stop and also notice this man. This gate was as close as he could get to the temple and he hoped that people who came to love God would love him. While the Spirit-filled Jewish Christians had no needy person, the same could not be said of the rest.
Jesus would have walked past him for 3 years, he never asked Jesus for healing, even now he only asks for money.
When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. ~Acts 3:3-5 (NIV)
Hoping he could have a piece of Christian generosity Peter and John look straight at him, Peter wants this man to give him his full attention, this was not going to be another shekel in the hat. Then the man focused his attention, could this be the day he was going to get the $100 note?
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have… ~Acts 3:6 (NIV)
The apostles were the opposite to the prosperity gospel preachers because the prosperity preachers are rich and these apostles were poor, prosperity preachers do fake miracles and the apostles actually do real miracles. We are about to see one.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 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 3:6-8 (NIV)
Dr Luke gives the specific details, the 2 words often used to describe a miracle. First, he was healed straight away
“…instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.” ~Acts 3:7b (NIV)
He did not slowly get better over the next 6 months.
Second, he was completely healed. Notice the man didn’t go from a wheelchair to a walking frame and then 2 years of intensive physio, he went from being totally disabled to totally healed in an instant.
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)
With Jesus they don't limp out, they don’t walk out, they go walking and leaping and praising God.
It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. ~Acts 3:16b (NIV)
Third, this miracle was on public record, it didn`t happen to some anonymous stranger. When faith healers fly into town in their private jets raking in $100,000s of dollars claiming to heal people, you don’t know the person on stage, you can’t verify anything, I commend the documentary on American Gospel.
Everyone knew the man who was lame from birth now walking and leaping.
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)
Don’t every apologise to ask questions when people claim miracles.
Ray Galea quote: “God is never glorified when you praise Him for a miracle that did not take place.” It only harms the gospel!!!
Everyone knew this man was the beggar at the temple gate. No one at the time of Jesus and the apostles doubted the miracles. They may say they did it in Satan`s power, but it did happen. It`s not lack of faith to test the genuineness of a miracle. This was a miracle. The reaction to this miracle is the same reaction done by Jesus, filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him, and the man was filled with praise, he could not just walk but he could now join Peter in the temple to pray, at last he could enter that which had been off limits.
Now we have the explanation.
While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? ~Acts 3:11-12 (NIV)
When a miracle happens, the temptation is to think that the healer has some magic touch, or he must be especially holy or have special powers. If you don’t have the right explanation then you end up with the wrong conclusion.
This miracle is a sign and signs point away from itself to the living Jesus. Peter makes it clear...its not his power but the power of the living Jesus and that was both the good news and bad news.
Why bad news? Because he was healed in the name of the one they killed and this healing meant one thing, Jesus is alive and he is Lord and they were in serious trouble.
Notice: Peter will not let them off the hook, he tells them, you handed Jesus over to be killed and what made it worse was when the Roman Governor declared him to be innocent, you cried out "crucify him". You disowned the Holy and Righteous one and what made it worse was when given a chance to set him free you chose a terrorist to be released instead of Jesus.
You killed the author of life, who gave you life. Like the ice addict who was choking on his own vomit and then stabs the paramedic who saved his life.
They killed the author of life. What`s really surprising is that they are deemed fully responsibility and yet ignorant. Their sin is not excused and it's not covered up but it was done in ignorance.
“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. ~Acts 3:17 (NIV)
You killed him not knowing that he was the Christ. The sin of ignorance not the sin of presumption, both responsible and ignorant. That is what Jesus said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"
That is what Paul said of his own rejection of Christ. Paul says:
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. ~1 Tim 1:13 (NIV)
We probably need to remember this, don't we? When non-Christians attack us and who blaspheme the name of Jesus and who sin without shame… responsible but ignorant.
But as Christians it is the one thing that we are not, you may have been ignorant but you are not now, so no more excuses. That is why it is a greater judgment on those who have come to Jesus and then walk away. That is why it's said of Judas, it would have been better if he were never born.
For those who are thinking of walking from Christ, I plead with you, there lies a greater judgment on you. The word for those who killed Jesus is the word for you and me
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, ~Acts 3:19 (NIV)
Three Words beginning with 'R'.
Repent: Do that you do what everybody has to do, everyone needs to acknowledge that they were born heading the wrong direction. Turn from your sin and turn to God.
And the promise is that your sins will be wiped out, completely obliterated, just as if you have never sinned, not one left to condemn.
That is why we are promised to be
Refreshed: If you repent you don’t have to carry fear or guilt or shame any more. If that is not grace then I don`t know what grace is. Grace is not just getting what we don’t deserve, grace is getting the opposite to what we deserve
Jerry Bridges “Grace is God’s free and unmerited favour shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment.”
If I give $1000 to a person who lost their job then its mercy but if I give $1000 to a person who stole and trashed my car then its grace.
That grace comes only through Jesus–the promised prophet.
For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. ~Acts 3:22 (NIV)
There is just one you must listen to. This is the KISS principle and it cuts through the complexity where you’re bombarded by never-ending options.
We live in world cursed by so many choices. Go shopping and you go nuts because there are 20 different types of milk and 30 different types of cereal. In the public square, there are 100 world views, options range from no gods to a million gods.
But there is but one Lord, one Christ, one author of life, only one whom the prophets pointed to, only one whom the Apostles witness to, only one whom God raised to life and only one who we have listen to.
Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people. ~Acts 3:23 (NIV)
I remember one woman saying, “I'm not interested in Jesus, whether he is Son of God or not, Jesus is irrelevant to me, I'm interested in God”
But its that God who said “This is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased, listen to him or you have no place among my people”
Jesus will not be ignored. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people. For now, we receive the refreshment of sins wiped out.
When Jesus returns it will be a time of restoration.
Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, ~Acts 3:21 (NIV)
They killed the agent of blessing but they did not kill off the blessing. In Christ we live in the time of refreshment now we end up in the time of restoration.
There are only 2 stories to believe in:
Story one: you are the result of a billion random accidents and will live a miserably short life marked with pain and then die a meaningless death and you will soon be forgotten.
Or, story two, you repent and take hold of Jesus, who refreshes your soul now and restores this universe when he returns. What Jesus did to this crippled man he will do to this crippled world. The picture of this man walking and leaping and praising God is a picture of new creation restored and released from its enslavement to death and decay.
We have such good news to enjoy, we have such good news to share, and oh, how the world needs to hear it. The west of Sydney is lost in its ignorance yet still responsible for its rebellion.
Pray that at MBM we bring the name of Jesus to our suburbs and our city and that they ache to hear that God refreshes their soul and restores this universe and that they long to know that there is a better world and a better future. The one who wiped out sins will wipe away our tears…and who will never wipe our names from the Book of Life. That is the assurance we need to hear.