In Acts 3 Peter heals the crippled beggar. There are physical healings that point to Christ’s spiritual healing of a person. (1) Rom. 10:17 – Faith come from hearing the word. Peter healed the crippled man in the name of Jesus. (2) Eph. 2:1 – The man was helpless to change himself. Without Christ, God calls us all “dead in trespasses and sins”. (3) Eph. 2:8 - by grace you are saved. God healed the man through His grace. (4) John 10:10b – “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.
The beggar jumped up and walked and shouted with joy praising God and telling everyone what God had done. The name of Jesus is powerful! Acts 3:15 – He is the author of life. Acts 3:16 – His name heals. Acts 4:12 – Salvation is found in no other name and no other name is given to men to be saved. Acts 4:30 – miraculous signs and wonders are performed through His name.
As people heard the man telling his story, a crowd quickly assembled. Peter took advantage of the moment to share the gospel with the crowd. Many repented and believers grew to about 5,000.
The church is under attack today as was the first church. Peter and John were arrested by the Sanhedrin, because they were teaching and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. The rulers saw their courage and that they were just ordinary men – uneducated, but knew the scriptures. The rulers knew the apostles had been with Jesus and they saw the proof of the man who was healed. There was nothing they could do since the apostles had done nothing against the law. So they ordered them to stop teaching the people and warned them to not speak in Jesus’ name. Peter and John said, “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20) God allowed this opposition in order to unite the apostles and deepen their roots in Christ.
The apostles returned to their own people. They prayed to God who has all power and authority over all (Acts 4:24), prayed using the promises and prophecies of Scripture (Ps. 2) as a basis for prayer in the will of God (Acts 4:25-28, and asked for more boldness to witness and more power to help others (Acts 4:29-30). God answered by power (Acts 4:31) with an outward sign of an earthquake.
It’s not uncommon for some to look holy for personal gain. Ananias and Sapphira certainly wanted to look holy. They were hypocrites. They lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). They lied not to men, but to God (Acts 5:4). They paid the price with their death. Their greed was based on pride and selfishness. Death is the consequence of sin. This shows me that the Holy Spirit knows all and we cannot hide anything from God. Also it teaches God does not tolerate sin. When we as Christians act this way, it costs someone their salvation. It can turn them away from Christ - not toward Him. The apostles continued performing miraculous sings and wonders and continued adding believers.
As a church grows there is always some kind of strife. It happened in the first church and it happens today. The church and the apostles were threatened and distracted from their God-given call. There was complaining of some of the widows being overlooked in daily food distribution. God wanted the apostles to spread the word of God and saturate themselves in prayer and ministry of the word and not let social pressures of the time divert their attention. The whole church met together and they appointed 7 men (first elders of the church) to be responsible for such matters. They were to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. 1 Tim. 3 tells many more characteristics deacons and elders should have like being trustworthy, men of respect, self-controlled, able to teach, etc.
God set His seal of authority on their choices. Stephen was one who was chosen. He was as powerful as the apostles by doing great wonders and miraculous signs (Acts 6:8). Opposition arose and he was arrested.
Stephen spoke to the Sanhedrin reminding them of their history from Abraham to Moses. He reminded them of their continued rejection and their resistance to the Holy Spirit. He accused them of the murder of Jesus. They were furious, but Stephen was calm. As Stephen was stoned to death, he saw the glory of God in heaven and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. He asked God to not hold this sin against them.
1. Courage comes to a believer through Bible based prayer and confidence in God’s sovereignty
2. Obedience to God by faith demonstrates trust in His purposes and power.
3. Turning to Jesus brings strength and perspective to face all life’s circumstances.
What effect does opposition to Christian activity and life in the Spirit have on you?
Are you a Christian, but living otherwise?
Do you pray for your pastor and church leaders?
What truths are refusing to receive that God has shown you?
Where do you need to stand up for Jesus?
Do you tell others about Jesus? When witnessing you don’t need to be defensive, just tell your story.