|The Church An Extension of Christ
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira
I read in Acts 4:33 that:
With great power [i.e., signs and wonders] the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
It is clear that not all the signs and wonders the early church manifested have been recorded. But when we come to the third chapter of Acts, which is our study, we discover that Luke has recorded Peters healing of the crippled beggar. Acts 3:1-10:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled 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. 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. Then Peter said, Silver or gold I do not have, but what I 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 mans 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. 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.
Luke evidently selected this healing out of a number of miracles that must have occurred during his time in order to teach us something very significant. For this reason, we should give it careful attention. The first lesson is that God has a purpose in manifesting His supernatural powers through the church. It is definitely not for sensationalism or to bring attention to the one who performs the miracles, like some televangelists do today.
Signs and wonders, such as the gift of healing or tongues, is Gods method of advertising. At Pentecost, God used tongues to draw large crowds to hear the disciples of Christ. Here, God used the healing miracle to draw a large crowd to hear Peter and John. Today we use large sums of money to advertise our meetings and yet, in return, we get very poor results. But, as we shall see, Gods method is extremely successful and it does not involve large sums of money.
Peter and John had gone to the temple to prayer, as was their custom. This was before God had instructed the disciples to stop going to the temple. It was three oclock in the afternoon, one of the established times set by Judaism for people to go to the temple for pray. Therefore, there was a large crowd in the temple at that time.
As Peter and John enter the temple area, they were confronted by this crippled beggar. He had been crippled since birth and for years his folks used him every day to earn his livelihood through begging at the temple gate called Beautiful. This beggar must have met Jesus, who taught in the temple during the passion week. Why did Jesus not heal him at that time? Because God had this incident in mind.
As Peter and John come towards this cripple, he typically asked for money. But both the disciples had no cash on them. Those were the days when the church did not depend on budgets to do their community services. They had something far greater and better. They were equipped with the supernatural power of God. And this Peter used.
As a result, the whole temple crowd, who were very familiar with who this crippled beggar was, flocked to see this miraculous wonder. They were absolutely amazed at what had happened. Typically, they thought Peter and John were some kind of magicians. But note how Peter turned their attention from himself and John to Christ. This is the second lesson we learn from this incident. Acts 3:11-15:
While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomons Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: Men of Israel, 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? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
Having turned the crowds attention to Jesus Christ, the source of their miracle and salvation, Peter now witnesses to them the good news of the gospel, mans only solution to the sin problem. Acts 3:17-23:
Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 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. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.
As we carefully examine Peters method of witnessing, we discover a very important sequence. This sequence is the very one Jesus Himself outlined to the disciples. It is the method the Holy Spirit uses to communicate the gospel truth to the world. What is this method? John 16:8-11:
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
This is the same thing Peter did at Pentecost. Acts 2:22-24:
Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by Gods set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
He then followed this by quoting David, the greatest king of Israel. Once he put them on a guilt trip, then came the plea. Acts 2:36-39:
Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers, what shall we do? Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off for all whom the Lord our God will call.
Why did Peter start witnessing Christ by first making his hearers feel such a terrible load of guilt? Psychologists today rightly tell us that guilt is a destructive force in human lives. And this would be true in Peters case had he left them there. The purpose of guilt is to make men and women realize that the only solution to the sin problem is Christ. And this is the second step.
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 given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you even Jesus.
The resurrection of Christ was the greatest proof God gave the Jewish nation that Christ was indeed the promised Messiah. According to Deuteronomy 21:23, hanging on a tree meant the irrevocable curse of God, what the New Testament refers to as the second death good-bye to life for ever:
...You must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under Gods curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
The Jewish leaders demanded of Pilate that Jesus be crucified because, in Christs day, crucifixion was synonymous to hanging on a tree. Acts 5:30:
The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.
Jesus had predicted to the Jews, more than once, that after they had put Him to death, He would be raised the third day. By crucifying Him, i.e., hanging Him on a tree, they felt God would curse Him and thus prevent the resurrection. But it did not work. Now comes the third step in witnessing, the judgment.
Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.
To persistently and ultimately reject Christ, after the Holy Spirit has convicted you that He is truly the Saviour of the world, is the unpardonable sin and has a very serious results. For it has eternal consequences, which is good-bye to life forever. Mark 16:15-16:
He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
John 3:16-18, 36:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of Gods one and only Son. ...Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for Gods wrath remains on him.
In conclusion, in his second epistle, Peter tells us that God wants none to perish but all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Please note how Peter makes this same plea as he addresses those who heard him in the temple. Acts 3:24-26:
Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed. When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.
These three steps we discovered in Acts 3:
These were the three steps the early church used to witness the gospel to people of their day. The same method must be used today, after God brings people to us by signs and wonders.