Church Empowered – Message 3
October 4, 2020
I. Introduction: We continue our survey of Acts, called Church Empowered.
- Acts 3:1-3; C/R: Acts 2:22,43; 1 Corinthians 12:9-10; James 5:14-15
A. The title of this message is Miracles.
- Theme: Acts 3:16 (NLT)-“Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.”
- A simple definition: Miracle = act produced by supernatural power.
- It is a supernatural intervention that disrupts or overrules the laws of nature.
- In the New Testament, there are three groups of words often translated as "miracle" or "miraculous" – dunamis, semeion and teras.
- Dunamis is a display of God’s power. (The definition on the outline. Acts 8:13)
- Semeionmeans "sign;" this miracle is evidence of divine activity. (John used this word.)
- Terasis translated “wonder;” it refers to a miracle that causes people to marvel.
- Teras is paired withsemeion (“signs and wonders”). (Acts 2:43)
- All three found at Acts 2:22 (NLT)—“People [lit., men] of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles [dunamis], wonders [teras], and signs [semeion] through him, as you well know.
- These three words are complementary ways of describing the same events.
- Dunamis and teras emphasize God's power, and semeion emphasizes the significance.
- APP.: Have you experienced a miracle from God? Not a message of guidance or warning, but an interruption of the natural world and its laws?
- Let’s observe and examine a miracle performed by God through Peter.
B. The Scene: Acts 3:1-3 (NLT)—Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth [permanent condition] was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate [large, ornate, gate in eastern side of the temple mount, separated Court of the Gentiles from the Court of Women], so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. [When people came to the temple, they would give offerings of money for the temple treasury. They would be in a thankful mood toward God, which would tend to make them generous toward the poor.] When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.
- This crippled man was about to receive something infinitely more valuable than money.
- Are we like this lame man, asking God for things that will temporarily provide us comfort, when God can give us something permanent, eternal, transformational?
- Let’s consider the meaning, the significance, the purpose of miracles, then and now.
II. The Purpose of Miracles is to…
A. #1 - Identify God’s messengers. (Acts 3:4-6; C/R: John 2:11,23; 6:14; 7:31; Acts 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:12)
- Acts 3:4-6a (NLT)—4Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. [How react?] But I’ll give you what I have.…”
- There were likely many other beggars gathered at the temple that day, including but God selected this one to work in and through. Why? For His purpose, according to His plan.
- Acts 3:6b (NLT)—“In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene [according Christ’s character, authority, power, and will], get up and walk!” [How did he react?]
- This beggar had little reason to believe in Jesus—a man who had been executed as a blasphemer; some said He’d been resurrected, but he had his doubts.
- What was about to happen would confirm that this man Peter represented Jesus and served as an apostle (a messenger, ambassador or representative of God)—because no ordinary person could change this man’s hopeless situation.
- Miracles authenticated Jesus, as the God-sent Messiah (Jn.2:11; 2:23; 6:14; 7:31), then verified His apostles as His Spirit-empowered messengers. (Ac.2:43).
- It was essential for these uneducated fishermen from Galilee to be given undeniable abilities to prove that they represented God.
- It was especially important for Paul to perform signs and wonders and miracles to prove he was an apostle, since he was not with Jesus while He was on earth. (2 Cor.12:12)
- APP.: What characteristic in your life proves you belong to, and represent, God?
The Purpose of Miracles is to…
B. #2 - Illustrate God’s power. (Acts 3:7-11; C/R: John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 12:9-10; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20)
- Acts 3:7 (NLT)—7Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.
- This man, who had never stood or walked, was hesitant, so Peter helped him stand.
- As he stood, he was healed completely—and he didn’t need help learning to walk—no physical therapy for him! (Sometimes we must try to stand before God will enable us.)
- Acts 3:8 (NLT)—He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.
- When God does a miraculous work of healing to demonstrate His power, it is instantaneous, complete, and the person healed knows who did the healing!
- Imagine his delight, his happiness, his joy, no wonder he leaped! (Grandson kicking.)
- Acts 3:9-10 (NLT)—9All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. 10When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!
- When God heals, it is not in doubt, not debatable whether there was some other cause, so He receives all of the credit and His Son’s name is glorified. (Jn.3:2)
- Acts 3:11 (NLT)—11They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.
- These people knew this man; they had walked by him for many years, saw him in his helpless, desperate, situation; perhaps some had given him some coins at times, or had avoided his gaze because they didn’t intend to give. (ILL.: Door at Wal-mart.)
- They wanted an explanation—and Peter would provide it.
- This healing had a specific purpose—to reveal God’s power by healing a hopeless person and to identify His spokesman, Peter.
- This narrative story is descriptive, not prescriptive; we cannot develop principles to practice in every situation from what God did through an apostle during this transitional period as the kingdom of God on earth was beginning.
- This story doesn’t establish that God wants to heal everyone; He chose only one.
- It doesn’t assert that the gift of healing is given to the church to deal with every illness.
- The Spirit does give gifts of healings (pl.) at 1 Corinthians 12:9, but I think that refers to the healing of individuals, not a gift to some person who can heal anyone.
- EX.: Timothy had stomach trouble (1Tim.5:23), Trophimus had an unspecified illness (2 Tim.4:20) but Paul did not heal either of them; Jesus healed one at pool of Bethesda.
- But God does love us and He heals at times—according to His will, His plan, and His purpose; He invites us to seek His healing. (Jas.5:14-15)
- APP.: Has God proved His power to you? How? What was the lasting result?
- God designed miracles to prove His power, but also to attract attention and point people to divine truth.
The Purpose of Miracles is to…
C. #3 - Introduce the gospel. (Acts 3:12-26; C/R: John 6:2,14; 12:18; Romans 15:18-19; Galatians 3:5; Hebrews 2:3-4)
- Acts 3:12 (NLT)—12Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? (Jn.6:2; 12:8).
- Peter took no credit for the healing, he said the God of the Jews did it to glorify Jesus.
- Acts 3:13 (NLT)—“For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this.”
- Peter referred to their demand that the Romans crucify Jesus and release Barabbas.(v.14)
- He recited the resurrection at Acts 3:15 (NLT)—You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!
- The miracle Peter had just performed made the resurrection more believable because it proved that God was all-powerful, not limited by even this hopeless case.
- Acts 3:16 (NLT)—“Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.”
- Peter knew his audience; he stated that the prophets predicted Jesus as Messiah.(17-18)
- He offered Good News: Acts 3:19-20 (NLT)—19“Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.”
- Peter declared Jesus was the Prophet Moses promised. (vv.21-23; Dt.18:15,19; Lev.23:29)
- He told them the Jewish prophets spoke of the coming of Jesus as fulfillment of God’s covenant promise to their ancestors to bless all the families on earth (vv.24-25).
- He closed his message by telling them God sent Jesus to them first, to bless them by turning each of them from their sinful ways. (v.26)
- APP.: Does God want to do a work of power in your life to provide a sign that He is real to amaze a disbelieving, even skeptical, audience?
- APP.: What do you need God to heal? A physical illness? A broken relationship? A painful loss? Some sinful pattern? An emotional wound causing anger or fear? [Stand]