Sermon title: The Marvelous Acts of the Apostles
Immanuel Baptist Church – September 13, 2020
The written Word of God is alive and powerful.
We spent over 2 ½ years going through the Gospels
chronologically covering all that our Lord Jesus
said and did.
Now, for the past few weeks,
we’ve been looking at the opening chapters
of the Book of Acts,
which is found in our Bibles right after
the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
The full title of this book is “The Acts of the Apostles.”
And it covers the most significant things that happened
in the early Christian Church,
beginning with Christ’s ascending bodily to heaven
while the Apostles watched him
disappear into the clouds of the sky.
And the Book of Acts tells what the Apostles said and did
in the days immediately following that,
and over the next decades,
as they carried the Gospel message
across the Middle East and the
Eastern Mediterranean region.
So far, we’ve looked at how the early Church
organized itself and picked its leadership.
And we’ve seen how God
empowered the Church to do ministry
by pouring out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost,
with 120 believers speaking in tongues,
as a powerful evidence of this outpouring
and as a means to give the Gospel message
to thousands of foreign-speaking Jews
visiting Jerusalem from all over the world.
We saw how Peter and the other Apostles
used that occasion to call the crowds to repentance,
with 3,000 getting baptized that day
as followers of Christ.
And then we saw how the early Church
provided for all those new believers
by sharing their possessions to care for them
as they remained in Jerusalem
to become grounded in the faith
under the Apostles’ teaching.
Now, as we look at the 3rd Chapter of Acts this morning,
we see another event that grew the Church,
as Peter and John
went into God’s Temple in Jerusalem.
Beginning with the 1st Verse, we read[ 2 SLIDES ]
1 Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 A certain man who was lame from his mother’s womb was being carried, whom they laid daily at the door of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask gifts for the needy of those who entered into the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive gifts for the needy.
Jews had synagogues in cities and towns all over the world,
where they gathered to pray and
to read the Hebrew Scriptures.
But the Temple on Temple Mount in Jerusalem
was the center of Jewish worship, for Jews everywhere.
This is a photo of Temple Mount in modern-day Jerusalem.
The Islamic Dome of the Rock is the golden-domed building
that stands now about where the temple used to be.
There are many doors or gates to the huge Temple area,
and we don’t know which one was called
“the Beautiful Gate” back in the 1st Century.
But it was a large public area,
where large numbers of people would have been
coming and going—
especially at the hour of prayer.
And this man who was born lame was a beggar
who was regularly left at that location
to beg for money,
as people passed him to enter the Temple.
4 Peter, fastening his eyes on him, with John, said, “Look at us.” 5 He listened to them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!”
This shows the power of God
that was operating through the Apostles.
Peter didn’t ask this man if he had faith to be healed.
Peter didn’t tell him about Jesus, and ask if he believed.
In fact, the lame man they found lying there
had no idea who Peter and John were—
much less, who Jesus was.
But Peter was able to command him, in the name of Jesus,
to get up and walk.
It didn’t take faith on that man’s part.
He was taken completely by surprise,
when Peter commanded him, in Jesus’ name,
to get up and walk.
We read that . . .
7 He took him by the right hand, and raised him up. Immediately his feet and his ankle bones received strength. 8 Leaping up, he stood, and began to walk. He entered with them into the temple, walking, leaping, and praising God.
Peter never asked the lame man if he had faith,
but the man certainly gave God the credit
for his miraculous healing.
He not only walked, but kept leaping into the air,
He was thankful and appreciative—
as appreciative as one could be,
leaping and praising God.
This didn’t pass without notice
in the crowded outer court of the Temple.
Continuing in Verse 9,[ 2 SLIDES ]
9 All the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 They recognized him, that it was he who used to sit begging for gifts for the needy at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. They were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11 As the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.
Just inside the Beautiful Gate of the Temple
was this large open area called Solomon’s Porch
or Solomon’s Colonnade.
Jesus had taught and addressed crowds there
not many months earlier.
But what happened there now,
with this miraculous healing, was something new
that attracted everyone’s attention.
It’s not likely that anyone in the crowd
recognized Peter and John.
Even though they must have accompanied Jesus
when he addressed crowds there months earlier,
people’s attention would have been on Christ.
But the crowds certainly recognized the beggar
who they always passed
whenever they went in or out of the Temple
by that gate.
Yet, here he was,
not lying helpless on a mat on the pavement,
but leaping and praising God,
while he kept clinging to Peter and John,
thanking them for working that miracle.
Peter saw the crowds
and seized the opportunity to address them.
12 When Peter saw it, he responded to the people, “You men of Israel, why do you marvel at this man? Why do you fasten your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him walk?
Peter had no desire to appear important or powerful.
Rather, he used the opportunity to talk about Jesus.
He went on to explain that it was their faith in Jesus
that allowed Peter and John
to raise up this handicapped man
who had been born that way,
enabling him now to walk and leap about.
Peter told the crowds,
13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up, and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, to which we are witnesses. 16 By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which is through him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
It was a Jewish audience Peter was speaking to.
And he explained to them
that he was not introducing any foreign religion,
but rather, it was
“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers,”
who raised up Jesus from the dead to heavenly glory.
And it was through Peter and John’s faith in Jesus
that they were able to raise up this lame man
by pronouncing Jesus’ name over him.
It was their faith in Jesus
that empowered them to do this miracle.
But he also reminded the crowd that they had killed Jesus.
They had killed “the Prince of life”
a couple of months earlier,
when they had asked Pontius Pilate
to release a murderer
and send Jesus to the cross.
Just as he did with the crowds
drawn to the streets below the upper room
by the miracle of tongues on the day of Pentecost,
Peter accused this crowd of their sin—
being complicit in killing the Messiah.
But he acknowledged that they didn’t really understand
the gravity of what they did on that shameful occasion.
He told them,
17 “Now, brothers, I know that you did this in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But the things which God announced by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.
All the prophecies of Scripture foretold
that Christ would be killed,
and they fulfilled those prophecies.
But their guilt remained, for their part in doing so.
They had added that sin of killing the Messiah
to all their other sins.
Peter called them to repent of their sins.
19 “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that he may send Christ Jesus, who was ordained for you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets.
Peter called the crowd to repent, and turn to God—
to repent, and change their ways.
Then their sins would be blotted out.
Their sins would be forgiven.
And Peter put it all in perspective—
the perspective of the Old Testament prophecies.
Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament promise of a Messiah,
and Jesus would remain in heaven
until the time to complete those promises—
“times of refreshing--”
“the times of restoration of all things”—
the timewhen ‘God’s kingdom will come,
and his will will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.’
And then Peter quoted examples of those prophecies,
quoting first from Moses’ prophecy in Deuteronomy
that the Messiah would be like Moses:
22 For Moses indeed said to the fathers,
‘The Lord God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him in all things whatever he says to you. 23 It will be that every soul that will not listen to that prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Deuteronomy 18:15,18-19 24
Moses set up the Old Covenant
between God and the Jewish people,
and Christ set up the New Covenant.
Just as the Jews needed to obey
the Laws of Moses in order to stay alive,
so now it becomes necessary
to listen to Jesus—
the ‘prophet’ like Moses—
in order to gain everlasting life.
Peter explained to the Jewish crowds
that Jesus was their new Moses—
the mediator of the life-giving New Covenant.
And it was not only Moses who spoke prophetically
foretelling Jesus’ role.
The other Old Testament prophets did so as well.
Peter went on to tell the crowds,[ 2 SLIDES ]
Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. 25 You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham,
‘In your offspring will all the families of the earth be blessed.’ Genesis 22:18; 26:4 26
Peter pointed out to them that
all the Old Testament prophets pointed forward
to the coming of the Messiah.
And he reminded them that God promised
their forefather Abraham that
“‘In your offspring will all the families of the earth be blessed.’”
Unbelieving Jews who don’t accept Jesus as the Messiah
interpret that to mean that
the Jewish people as a whole
would be a blessing
to all the families of mankind.
But, what God’s promise to Abraham really meant—
is explained elsewhere in the New Testament.
And it’s that Abraham’s offspring
would be the promised Messiah,
who would bless all the families of mankind.
And Christ Jesus has fulfilled that
by sending his Gospel of salvation to all nations.
Pagan nations have turned from savage brutality
and from darkness and hopelessness
to Christ’s love, joy and peace.
And Christ Jesus will further fulfill that promise
that the seed of Abraham
would bless all the families of mankind
when Christ comes in Kingdom power
to replace corrupt human governments
with the holy Kingdom of God.
Meanwhile, people from all the families of mankind
who accept Jesus as the Messiah,
repent of their sins, and follow Him,
are being blessed with everlasting life.
But those blessings would come first to the Jews,
as Peter went on to say
to his Jewish audience at the Temple,
God, having raised up his servant Jesus, sent him to you first to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your wickedness.”
God sent his Son first to the Jews,
to bless them—each one who would
turn away from their wickedness
to become followers of Jesus.
Peter and the other Apostles would share the Gospel
first with the Jews,
before taking the Gospel to the rest of the world.
And, even when Paul would go on missionary journeys
across Asia Minor and into Europe,
he would go first to the Jewish synagogue
in each city and town,
to share Christ with the Jews,
before sharing the Gospel with Gentiles.
So, what do we learn from this account?
First of all, it is a history lesson
in how God used miracles to grow the early Church.
Knowing the history of our faith
is vitally important,
because it gives us a foundation
for why we believe as we do.
There are many false ‘gospels’ being spread abroad today,
even within many churches
that call themselves “Christian.”
And knowing the history of our faith
helps protect us from being misled
by the false teachers who promote
We also learn from this episode
the sovereign power of God to heal.
God gave the Apostles authority and power
to heal in Jesus’ name,
and their ability to do that
rested on God’s power alone.
It did not depend on whether the infirm person
had faith, or not.
That lame man at the Temple gate
had no idea who Jesus was
or who Peter and John were,
but God’s power healed him, anyway.
This shows the hypocrisy of so-called ‘faith healers’ today
who claim to have that apostolic power,
but who blame their failures
on the infirm person’s lack of faith.
The so-called ‘health & wealth gospel’ is a false gospel,
and this account in Acts helps us identify it as false.
Another false teaching of the health-&-wealth ‘gospel’
is that Christians who are sick are in that condition
because they lack faith.
That simply isn’t true.
The disciple Timothy was exemplary in strong faith,
yet Paul wrote to him at 1 Timothy 5:23
“Stop drinking only water, and use a
little wine because of your stomach and
your frequent illnesses.”
So, Timothy was frequently ill, despite his strong faith.
And the Apostle Paul reminded the Galatian church
that he himself was seriously ill
when he first visited them.
He told them at Galatians 4:13-15
“As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14 Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn.”
In fact, Paul told the Corinthians that
he prayed 3 times for relief.
At 2 Corinthians 12:8 he said,
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”
We can pray for healing,
and those prayers are answered when it is God’s will,
but we need to surrender to God’s will.
Permanent healing for all believers won’t come until
Christ returns and puts an end to all the ills
of this world.
And a third lesson we can glean from this episode
is to take advantage of every opportunity
to share the Gospel of Christ.
If we have people’s attention,
what better thing is there for us to share with them
than our faith in Jesus Christ?
So, we applaud sports figures who honor Jesus
and give him credit, when they are interviewed
about their success.
And we applaud others who come into
the media spotlight for one reason or another,
and who use that opportunity
to share Christ with the audience,
just as Peter spoke to the crowd
drawn together by the miracle
at the Temple.