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The Life Changing Power of Christ - Acts 3:1-11

 

The Life Changing Power of Christ                 (click here for audio)

Acts 3:1-11

I want to begin the message by reading the first verse of chapter 1 – “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.”   Luke, the author of Acts, tells his friend Theophilus of the first book that he wrote,  the Gospel of Luke, which was a record of all that Jesus began to do and teach.    There were things that Jesus “did”; and  things that Jesus “taught”.  Jesus’ ministry was both a ministry of miracles, and a ministry of teaching.  Jesus performed miracles to point people to the message and the messenger.

The purpose of Jesus’s miracles was a clear sign that God was with Him.  The miracles of Jesus confirmed the truthfulness,  the authenticity of His message, His person, His identity, and His mission. Peter, also, reminded his listeners of the purpose of Jesus’ miracles in Acts 2:22:

          Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you

          By God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him

          In your midst, as you yourselves know….

 

What began in the Gospels continued in the ministry of the early church. The ministry of Jesus’ teaching continued with the voice of the apostles. The ministry of Jesus’ miracles continued through the hands of the apostles.

 

Last time we saw in Acts 2:43

And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

It’s interesting to see both the Message and the Miracles continued in the book of Acts.

In chapter 2 we have the MIRACLE of Pentecost;   the sound from heaven that sounded like a mighty rushing wind;  cloven tongues as of fire appeared to them;  speaking in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance.

After the MIRACLE,  came the MESSAGE of Pentecost -  Peter preached a sermon and then came the Response -  3000 believers were added to their number

 

Again, the same pattern is seen in Chapter 3 -  The Miracle of the healing of the lame man;  then the Message Peter gives,  and then the Response   is seen in Acts 4:4 with 5000 men coming to faith in Christ.

The purpose of the miracles, the signs and wonders served to verify the message.  The miraculous works authenticated the apostolic messengers and the apostolic message to be from God. 

Paul called them signs of an apostle in 2Cor. 12:12   The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.  The Apostle’s teaching became Holy Scriptures.  Now it would be 60 years later before the final letters of I, II, III John would complete the Bible.   

Today, we have the complete errant, infallible Word of God.  Today, a preacher of the gospel is verified not by signs and wonders, but rather by the Holy Scriptures.

There are groups today who believe miracles, signs and wonders should be as common as they were in the book of Acts.  However, as we follow the narrative in the Book of Acts, we will see less and less occurrences of signs and wonders.

The Apostles and those closely associated with the Apostles were given apostolic gifts of healings and miracles.    As we follow the history of the early church, we see a decrease of  miracles.    Finally, with the passing of the apostle’s, also went the signs that accompanied the true apostles.   I’m not saying God never heals, or never performs a miracle.   It’s just a rare occurrence, and not commonplace as some suggest.  If we never become sick because Jesus heals us every time, then we would never die.    Physical healing was not purchased at the cross.  Some say,  “I know I’m healed because the Bible says, ‘by his stripes we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53:5)

The healing described in Isaiah 53 is that of the sin-sick soul.  By his stripes we are healed spiritually.   We are saved spiritually by the death of Christ.    We can pray for God’s healing, and pray for a miracle, but we must always filter our request through the will of God.   It is not always God’s will to heal.   If it is,  why did Paul not call for his companion Trophimus to be healed?

               I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus  2Tim 4:20

And Paul told Timothy who was suffering from some stomach ailments to

Stop drinking only water. And use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.  1Timothy 5:23

 

I believe we should maintain a proper balance when it comes to signs and wonders. We don’t want to be on one side totally denying God’s sovereign work in performing miracles. Also, we should not be unscriptural in advocating that it’s always God’s will to heal. We are invited by God to pray.  God is all wise and He knows what is best for us.  One day we will have a glorified body that will never get sick. 

In order for us to glorify God in the church, we are not to seek foremost the health of everyone, but rather to seek the salvation of all who will hear the gospel message. You can have a healthy body and still go to hell.  But if you are saved, you will go to heaven, even if your body is sickly and diseased in this life.

Jesus did not come to seek and heal the sick;  but according to Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

That’s what Jesus does here in Acts 3 -  Jesus heals him, but most important Jesus saves him.

Divide vv.1-11 around  four words…. Or call them four hooks to hang our thoughts on…

1.    The Request

2.    The Relief

3.    The Response

4.    The Reaction

 

The Request    vv.1-3

v.1 Peter and John - - temple – hour of prayer -  ninth hour -   3pm –

3 times the Jews went to the temple for prayer -  3rd hour (9am)      6th hour (12noon) 

        9th hour – 3pm     this was a Jewish custom…    remember Daniel prayed 3 times a day…

The Apostles and the Early Christian Jews ….will eventually break away from Judaism…it will come….and in 70 AD  the temple will be destroyed by the Roman army.  

Peter and John go to the temple because their first witness is to the Jews.  Salvation is for the Jews, first.  Even the Apostle Paul would first go to a synagogue to proclaim Christ. 

 

As Peter & John were going up…they meet this man who had been lame from birth…

1.    Here was a helpless man --    v.2   being carried….   Laid daily …. At the gate of the temple…         gate called Beautiful……… made of bronze and overlaid with silver and gold……..based on what I’ve read…75 feet high…very impressive….

Strategic location for the lame man to be….

·         Reminds us of the rich man and Lazarus---his strategic location  at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table.  (Luke 16:19-21)   Lazarus was “helpless” and had to be brought to the rich man’s house… Hoping to get some food from the rich man.

·         Reminds us of Blind Bartimaeus – his strategic location -   sat on the roadside at the entrance to the city of Jericho….

SOME beggars --  were laid at gates that led up to the temple;   some at the gate of the residence of the rich;   others at the entrance to a city….

The LAME MAN in our text…  sat near this gate…

this gate separated the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of the Jews….. The Gate attracted Gentiles because it was definitely “Beautiful”….and according to historian Josephus, Herod’s Temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world.

 

Very strategic for the lame man to be sitting---  and the goal was to receive alms, money from those who walked about….and from the Jews who entered the Gate on their way to Prayer.

 

He was in a HELPLESS condition – had to be carried there EACH DAY…

 

2.    He was in a HOPELESS  condition --  “lame from birth”    He never had the experience of walking, running, and jumping…   He never had the freedom to move from one place to another on his own..  His condition was hopeless….

He was a sharp contrast to the Beautiful Gate… the Gate was Beautiful...and he was blemished…

Man can make some beautiful things…  beautiful paintings….beautiful houses…beautiful clothes….He can make himself look good on the outside….but man can not improve his condition on the inside….apart from saving grace….MAN IS HELPLESSLY, AND HOPELESSLY  LOST

 

Ephesians 2:12

remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world...

 

NOTICE v.3  “Seeing Peter and John…….. he asked to receive alms

 

He requested from them money.     His infirmity had placed him in poverty.  Without money he could not buy food.   Without food he could not live.

His livelihood was dependent upon the generosity of the people who passed by.

 

His request to PETER and JOHN was alms –It was for financial assistance.

 

But something else was about to happen.

Peter must have known what the Holy Spirit was leading him to say next.

 

We come now to the 2nd word …  RELIEF

 

 

The Relief    vv.4-7

  v. 4    And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John  …….  LOOK at US..

this lame man is about to get something better than financial relief.   

He’s going to get a new set of feet, and he doesn’t know it yet.

LOOK at US….. says Peter and John….   Probably after making his request for alms, the man was already looking to other people who were coming up in the same direction…  Peter and John were not going for their wallet, so he already lost interest in them and was looking for others who might contribute to his need.

Peter Has GOT SOMETHING to say to this crippled man, but first the crippled man’s attention must be focused upon the Apostles…  LOOK AT US…

v.5  and he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them

His LOOK toward the Apostle was NOT at first a LOOK of FAITH….   He fixed his attention on them with expectations of getting some donations from them.

v.6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold………name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk….

Now the gaze is not ON the APOSTLES….the Gaze is on Christ….  and to be sure he understood who he was talking about….JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH…. The one that was crucified….the one that was buried and rose from the dead the third day…

Have you heard about Jesus Christ of Nazareth?    His power is here to give you strong feet and ankles….I command you,  “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!

v.7   and he took him by the right hand….    ( I can just see the lame man laying down his beggar’s cup…..and reaching upward to be pulled up….)      and raised him up,

and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong

 

How did the RELIEF come?    Skip down  to  v.16   “and his name---by faith in his name--

·         Peter didn’t get on one side and John got on the other side   to Help Him up….

·         Peter took him by the right hand….and he got up….as if he had been doing it all his life

·         He RAISE HIM UP……..his feet…his legs….ONCE were DEAD …..NOW …alive…..

Reminds us of Ephesians 2:4-6

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

·         Immediately  -  his feet and ankles were made strong---   (immediately & completely)

·         No long term therapy---  Peter and John didn’t say….now stay off your feet for a few days…it will take a while for this healing to really kick in ….NO !!!                Same way of being saved…. you are saved immediately & completely  upon coming to faith in Christ….when Christ saved us…He saved us immediately…He doesn’t save us on the  installment plan……get you 50% saved and then hopefully save you completely later on……  won’t really know until you face God one day…..no way!

The man who had been lame all his life…..  he knew he had full RELIEF…FULL Recovery… he was fully restored. 

Didn’t have to ask him….are you completely healed….   ???       Oh,  I don’t know…guess I’ll have to wait till I face God one day to see…   I think I am….  I feel like I am…

I know I’m saved….You can know for sure you’re saved…

John 20:30-31

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

1John 5:13

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

In Christ we have  a FULL Salvation….a Complete salvation….it comes immediately to all who truly believe…

 

The Response   v.8

This man who had been lame….did not WAIT to be pulled up…    v.8 and leaping up, he stood

His response was an immediate response   just like his relief was an immediate relief.

What did he do?     He did something  he had not been able to do for his entire 40 years of living……he did something that he only dreamed he could do….he began to walk….

Where did he go?    He entered the temple.    The place where he was not allowed to enter.  Lame people were considered by their rules to be unclean and unfit to enter the temple.  This man entered the temple….once a place forbidden,  now he walks freely, no restraints,   nothing holding him back….

What’s he doing in the temple?

#1 Walking -   he’s walking, but how is he walking????

Walking by faith – not by sight -    someone says   “you can’t walk”     Jesus said I could.    Can you hear Peter chiming in….don’t worry about what people say…  they told me I couldn’t walk on water….but Jesus said I could…I did….  Doing pretty good as long as I kept my eyes on Jesus. 

Just remember , let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

How is he walking?

 

·         Walking in newness of  life… (Rom 6:4)     that old life is gone…the new has come.

·         Walking  in a manner worthy of the calling to which he’s been called,  (Eph 4:1)

·         Walking in the Spirit, and so that I will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:16)

#2  He’s Leaping -  He’s catching up on what he missed as a little boy…..  a little boy jumps around full of energy….   He jumps to see how far he can jump….cause he missed out on that when he was a kid.    He jumps to see how high he can jump…. He missed out on that too as a small kid…

#3   He’s praising God…..

Here’s evidence  a change had come to this man….   He’s got something to praise God for…

What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought….Since Jesus came into my heart!

I have light in my soul for which long I had sought,  since Jesus came into my heart!

 

I can imagine this man praising God…and quoting from  Psalms 122:1-2

I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet have been standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem!

And  he is praising God….maybe he is recalling one of God’s promises from Isaiah 35:5-6

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;

 

The Reaction  vv.9-10

How did all the people react to this man who had been healed of his condition?

They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

They reacted the same way given in Acts 2:43   “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.”

Their reaction was that of shock and awe because…..

1.   They saw him in the temple walking around and praising God.

This was amazing and really shocking for those who looked on,  because this man has never been seen in the temple.  He’s new.   He’s a little bit beside himself.  He can’t sit still and be quiet.  He’s walking around.    For 40 years he has been sitting still.   He can’t contain himself. He must move around.   He’s empowered by the Spirit.  He’s energized by the Word of Christ.

The people could not believe their eyes.    V.11 says “the people, utterly astounded”

They were astonished!  They were blown away!

Their shock,  their astonishment and amazement was due to the fact that…

2.   They recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms.

Can you imagine people whispering to each other  “is that who I think it is”?   “Is that guy who’s walking and jumping around the same one who always sat at the Beautiful Gate?”

I can imagine the little children taking notice,  “Look Mom!  Look Dad! There’s the lame man we see every day outside at the Beautiful Gate.  He’s so excited.”

There was no debating as to the identity of this man.    The Bible says clearly (v.10)  “they recognized him”      This leads to the next part---  Peter will speak and point the people to Christ.   Peter will lead them to “recognize Jesus Christ of Nazareth”.    Yes,  it’s important they recognized the lame man who was now walking.  Yes, it’s important to recognized the change that’s come on his life.   The important thing is  “Do you recognize the hand of God?  Do you recognize the Lord Jesus Christ?  We’ll look at Peter’s sermon next time.

Some closing thoughts..             

Peter said to the lame  man,  “Look at us”.       I remember a person in our community posted on face book asking people to help recommend a church. There were several suggestions.  Have you considered this church?  Or that church?     Look at us.   Many churches advertise with slogans and basically what they are saying is   “look at us”.    Consider us.   This is what we offer.

1.   What does the world, the community think when they look at us?   What do they say about us?    I know we should be more concerned as to what God thinks when He looks at us. But just as Peter pointed this helpless man, this lost man to Jesus Christ,  do we give a strong message of Christ in our actions, in our words, in our behavior?  Do we display the love of Christ to those who are in need?   Do we even show that we care?     

When others  “look at us” may we give clear messages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

2.   Is there evidence in your life that you have interest in the things of Christ?

Just like the man who was lame, a change was wrought in his life.  He got up and walked. He didn’t  walk away from Christ.  He didn’t walk away from the teaching of the Apostles.

The first thing he did  (v.8)  “he entered the temple”.   He went to the place of prayer,  the place of worship,  the place of Bible teaching.   There’s something wrong when someone says, “I’m saved”,  but they have no interest in the things of Christ.

Also, notice (v.11) “he clung to Peter and John”.   It was like the man who was once lame felt compelled to stick with Peter and John. If he left them it would be like unplugging from the source of electricity and his feet would no longer work.  Isn’t that the way of new believers, they want to cling to you because you are the one that led them to Christ.  There are too many teflon Christians who don’t’ stick.  They slide out the door to never be seen again. 

John 8:31    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide(continue) in my word, you are truly my disciples,

 

3.   Are we making a conscious effort to influence others so they may hear the gospel?

There are some people we haven’t met in this passage.  We don’t know who they are, or how many of them are involved.  We know them as “they” in v.2   and a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple…  who are the “they”?    we don’t know.   God knows who they are.  Little did they realize what they did resulted in this man hearing the Good News of Christ.

Someone cared enough to help him each day.

Someone cared enough to go and get him.

Someone cared enough to bring him and set him down each day.

 It may seem to be a “small thing”;  an insignificant task.   Little things are important!

As the famous basketball coach of UCLA, John Wooden, has said,  “little things make big things happen”.

So many people of God are waiting for that “big moment”;   that “big assignment” when there are “small moments”  and “small assignments”  that are just important. 

May the Lord help us to be conscious of those small efforts that will be a part of helping others to hear the gospel of Christ.

Don’t wait around to take on the assignment of an Apostle Paul or wait to become a great speaker like Apollos.   Here’s what Paul said:

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.    1Cor. 3:5-7 (NKJV)

May all we do be for the Glory and Honor of Jesus Christ.


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