The Motivation of Peter’s Miracles

In Acts 9:32-43, we see two miracles performed by the Apostle Peter. The first miracle involves the healing of a paralyzed man who had been in that condition for eight years. Peter looked at him and said (vs. 34), “Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise and make thy bed.” It was obvious that Peter did not want the credit for the miracle – and the glory was given to the Lord!The second miracle involved something more dramatic. A wonderful asset to the church in Joppa named Tabitha (translated: Dorcas), fell sick and died. The saints were saddened by her death and sent for Peter to come quickly. When Peter came, he found the widows surrounding her bedside weeping. It was obvious that this woman was a hard working and beloved member of the local body of Christians. Peter kneeled down and prayed and then turned toward the body of Tabitha and said (vs. 40), “Tabitha, arise.” She was healed in the exact same way that Jarius’ daughter was healed. It was in the same fashion – and those who knew of that miracle performed by Christ would see the clear similarities.Often times we are bombarded with “faith healers” on the television who seem to be more interested with the healing of people’s bodies than they are with the salvation of lost souls. It does not take but a few moments to turn on the television screen in order to find someone speaking about miraculous healing. In fact, most of these programs are spent talking about healing of diseases physically while precious little time is spent dealing with the disease of sin upon the heart of man. In this passage of Scripture, the motive for the miracles is clearly stated by what took place following the miracle. The miracle pointed people to faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ of God. Many people had heard of the man Jesus of Nazareth who was put to death for claiming to be the Son of God. Then Peter comes into town and heals people in the very name of Jesus of Nazareth – the man who was put to death on the Roman cross. When people witnessed the miracle – they did not ask Peter for his autograph or for his prayer cloth in order to overcome the annual flu virus. They turned to Jesus of Nazareth as their Savior – as the Christ of God.In order to put this in better context – we need to understand the role of the Holy Spirit. Today, many groups are placing more emphasis on the power of the Spirit than they are the power of Jesus’ blood. Many people are interested in seeing something out of the ordinary as opposed to hearing about what Jesus Christ can do to a person’s heart. However, in John 15:26, we see that the role of the Spirit is to point to Jesus Christ. The role of the Spirit is not to bring attention to Himself. John 15:26 says, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” Therefore, when we see a movement that places more emphasis on the Spirit than on the Son – that should be a red flag to us.In Acts 9:32-43, we see that the miracle was to bring about the salvation of lost souls. After each miracle performed by Peter, people turned to Jesus Christ for salvation.  What is more extraordinary – the physical miracle or the inner miracle of the soul?  Warren Wiersbe writes,

What is the greatest miracle that God can do for us? Some would call the healing of the body God’s greatest miracle, while others would vote for the raising of the dead. However, I think that the greatest miracle of all is the salvation of a lost sinner. Why? Because salvation costs the greatest price, it produces the greatest results, and it brings the greatest glory to God (The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1, 443).”

May God help us to focus on the inner man more than the outer man. May God cause us to see the motive for divine miracles in this world full of sin.For the glory of God!Rev. Josh Buice

Persecution Ignites Against The Church

Acts 4:1-12

I. The Persecution of the Messengers (Vs. 1-3)

Persecution ignites against the early church as they preached Jesus Christ and performed miracles in His name. This flame which sparked in the first century has continued to burn until our present day. It has burned hotter at times and brighter in different geographical locations, but it has not ceased to burn. It will continue to glow with intensity until Jesus Christ extinguishes it at the last day.The first century Christians faced some of the most horrific persecution in history. From wild beasts eating their flesh to being speared and set on fire as a human torch in the wicked King’s garden. Often the people would gather at amphitheaters and cheer as Christians were burned at the stake, attacked by lions, and beat by savage executioners. All of this wickedness was sparked through the faithful preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So long as there is faithful preaching, there will likewise be persecution upon the church.A. The Religious Leaders Were GrievedThe word “grieved” means – to be provoked to anger.Why were these religious leaders grieved? They were grieved for two very basic reasons:1. They were in charge of all religious activity and teaching. When a couple of “unlearned” Galileans gather a large crowd through preaching and miracles, it brought about much anger from those who were in charge.2. The religious leaders (Sadducees) were angered because of the core message of the gospel. The gospel itself being Jesus Christ involved the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was in fact the Son of God. The gospel message also involved the resurrection of Christ (which was rejected) along with the future resurrection of people from the dead (which was rejected).John Polhill writes, “The notes of Peter’s sermon alarmed them: resurrection, Author of life, a new Moses. These were revolutionary ideas. The movement must not spread. It must be nipped in the bud (The New American Commentary: Acts, 140).”B. The Followers of Christ Were ArrestedThe persecution began with the arrest of these Apostles along with the new convert who was healed outside of the Temple gate.What a way to break in a new convert! For him to witness this rude break up of such a glorious event by the religious leaders. That is what Christianity is all about. The Christian life is about suffering – not health, wealth, and prosperity! In John 15:20, Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

II. The Power of the Message (Vs. 4)

Note: The effect of the message of Christ upon the crowd was marvelous! At least 5,000 people were saved during the message. It was an obvious blessing from God!Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.1 Corinthians 1:21 – For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.There Is Power In The Blood – Lewis E. JonesWould you be free from your burden of sin?There’s pow’r in the blood, pow’r in the blood;Would you o’er evil a victory win?There’s wonderful pow’r in the blood.Refrain:There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’rIn the blood of the Lamb;There is pow’r, pow’r, wonder-working pow’r,In the precious blood of the Lamb.Romans 10:14 – How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

III. The Persecution Led to Preaching (Vs. 5-12)

A. The Interrogation of the Disciples (5-7)These leaders wanted answers. They wanted to know how these guys pulled off this marvelous miracle. So, they lined them up before the most powerful religious leaders in the land (the Sanhedrin) and applied the pressure of persecution upon them.1. The Sanhedrin was made up of 72 members. The High Priest was the president of the court.2. The Sadducees were a religious group like the Pharasees. They were opposed to the Pharasees, but their religious bond was in their opposition to Jesus of Nazareth.3. Usually the High Priest came from the Sadducees.4. Annas was the former High Priest, but he is mentioned due to his power. After his rule, several of his sons, grandsons, and son-in-law occupied the office.5. Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas.John Phillips says, “And there it was, out in the open, the crux of everything: the question of the name. Peter could not have been asked a better leading question. Unwittingly they handed him his text on a silver platter. Thus God makes the wrath of man to praise Him. The anger of Jesus’ foes is used to introduce the glory of His Name (The John Phillips Commentary Series, Exploring Acts, 80).”B. The Preaching of Peter Continues (8-12)Peter gives the answer to their question. He provides them with the following information:- The religious leaders are guilty of killing the Son of GodPsalm 118:22 – The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.- Salvation is only possible through Jesus of Nazareth – The Christ of God.Salvation is not through the name of the High Priest.Salvation is not through the name of the Sadducees.Salvation is not through the name of the Sanhedrin.Salvation is not through any other name! Salvation is only through Jesus of Nazareth.Today, we must realize that same truth! Although many people today seek to expand the gates of Heaven to people who deny essential doctrine about Christ and our God, we must realize that the path to God is narrow! It is small . . . and only those who are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.Recently, Oprah Winfrey has started promoting the teachings of Eckhart Tolley and other New Age teachers through her television, web, and printed material. Oprah herself has also denied the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Oprah said, “One of the mistakes that human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live, and we do not accept that there are diverse ways of being in the world, that there are millions of ways to be a human being, and there are many ways or paths to what you call ‘God.’ And her path might be something else, and when she gets there she might call it the light, but her loving, and her kindness, and her generosity . . . if it brings her to the same point that it brings you, it doesn’t matter if she called it ‘God’ along the way or not (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW4LLwkgmqA).”John MacArthur writes, “Christians preach an exclusive Christ in an inclusive age. Because of that, we are often accused of being narrow-minded, even intolerant. Many paths, it is said, lead to the top of the mountain of religious enlightenment. How dare we insist that ours is the only one? Inn reality, however, there are only two religious paths: the broad way of works salvation leading to destruction, and the narrow way of faith in the only Savior leading to eternal life (Matt. 7:13-14). Religious people are on either one or the other. Sadly, the Sanhedrin and all who followed them were on the broad road to hell (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Acts 1-11, 135-136).”Conclusion:What can we learn from this passage of Scripture?1. The Church of Jesus Christ shall suffer persecution!2. The preached message of Jesus Christ should be the primary focus of the Church. There is power in the preaching of Jesus Christ!3. In order to be a powerful and convincing witness of Jesus Christ, we must rely upon the Holy Spirit like Peter as he stood before the religious assembly.4. As persecution continues to spread, although it continues to hurt, we must remember that persecution strengthens the church of Jesus Christ.5. There is no salvation in any other means, person, or thing. Therefore, if you are trusting in other things to get you to heaven, you need to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation.For the glory of God!Rev. Josh Buice

God’s Power to Serve

As I was rereading Acts 1 this morning, I realized that we as Christians often rely upon our own power to serve God.  As I allowed that thought to sink into my heart and mind, I also realized that may be the reason that our ministries remain so unfruitful.  Sure, it is easy to fake it in the Christian life and ministry, but God knows the truth.  God is not fooled by our superficial service rooted in the flesh.  God is also not glorified by that type of service.As we look at the life of the Apostles and the early church itself from the book of Acts, we see men who were failures by themselves, but God took them and used them to spread the gospel across the entire world.  That was not an easy task in their day, but it was accomplished by the power of God.Consider the day in which the Apostles worked and ministered.  It was a day unlike our modern society.  As I type this blog post on my MacBook Pro – I am reminded of how much easier this task is with modern technology.  The Apostles spread the gospel across the entire world without the use of Apple Inc., the internet, PDA’s, or other modern techno gadgets.  How much more did they work for God’s glory than we do today?  That is something that we must wrestle with!  If we worked as hard in our day of technology as they did in their days of donkey travel, imagine where we could take the gospel!As Luke records the words of Christ in Acts 1:4-8, we see the fact that God had promised the outpouring of the Spirit upon His people.  Christ Himself had delivered that message and below are several ways in which the Holy Spirit provides us with abilities to serve God for His glory.I.  The Holy Spirit Provides Believers With ComfortWhen Christ addressed His disciples before He went to the cross, He spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit by addressing Him as the Comforter.  The hearts of the disciples were broken, confused, and scared.  They did not see the finished plan as we do, so naturally, they experienced these emotional stirrings as a result.  As Christ understood their fears, He foretold of the Comforter who would come and be their source of comfort in the middle of confusion and pain.As we continue to live in a sinful world, we still need the comfort of the Holy Spirit in our day as well.  Although we are much different than the early disciples, we still face hostility toward Christianity and sinful rebellion.  Therefore, we must realize as we serve God in ministry and in our daily lives – we must rely upon the comfort of the Holy Spirit to keep us on the steady path of righteousness for the glory of God.II.  The Holy Spirit Provides Believers With GuidanceWith the exception of the Apostle Paul, the Apostles were not geniuses!  It was not their ideas that brought about the movement of the gospel across the world.  It was the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Too often we tend to rely upon our own ideas rather than the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit.  If we would spend time washing our thoughts with the Word of God, eventually they would be cleansed by the Spirit of God to point of usability.  It is the Spirit of God that provides us with a mission mindset, a servant’s heart, and a willingness to sacrifice our own agenda to make Christ known to the nations.III.  The Holy Spirit Provides Believers With PowerThe power of the Spirit of God is not limited to the days of the Apostles.  Although we read about miracles occurring by the Spirit of God during the days of the Apostles, we must realize that the same Holy Spirit lives within us in our present day.  Although we may not see the same miraculous signs and wonders that the early church witnessed, we have the same power to go out and reach a lost world with the gospel of Christ.As mere humans, we are powerless.  We have no ability to save people from their sin.  Therefore, when we realize that we are like the Apostles were – unable to save people – we are then moved to a full reliance upon God’s power to confront and convict the hearts of fellow man.  It is at this juncture that we are able to experience true evangelism as opposed to man made tactics to get people down the aisle of the local church.I was speaking with someone this morning about the subject of evangelism and trickery.  He was telling me about situations he had witnessed where preachers had performed sly schemes in order to get people to respond during the invitations.  Those types of schemes will not provide lasting fruit.  The schemes of man produce wooden apples – they look good and authentic, but when examined closely it becomes evident that they are not the real thing.   Therefore, we must rely upon God’s Spirit to convince people that the gospel is true before they will call upon the name of the Lord for salvation.  We as the church of Jesus Christ have power to take the gospel to the nations – but we must leave the results up to God.IV.  The Holy Spirit Provides Believers With The Mark Of Authenticity The Apostles labored the gospel among a people (Israel) and a world (the Gentile nations) who were not receptive to the idea that the man named Jesus from Nazareth was the fulfillment of the promised Messiah.  Just as they laughed and mocked Jesus as He carried His cross to the hill called Calvary, they would do the same thing to the early followers of Christ.  Most of the Jewish population saw the early church as a group of heretics who were following their chief heretic Jesus of Nazareth.  Therefore, it was the role of the Holy Spirit to provide the early church with the mark of authenticity as they moved forward to obey the command of Christ in the Great Commission.  Two specific examples of how the Holy Spirit marked out God’s people with the mark of authenticity are:- Speaking in Tongues = As these unlearned Galilean fisherman spoke in other languages to wonderful works of God, the population became amazed.  There was no answer – other than the fact that these people were of God.  Sure, some of the people accused them of being drunk with wine, but the truth was evident!  These men were of God!- Healing of the Sick = The Apostles also healed people on specific occasions.  These miraculous events were not to promote their own personal agendas or ministries, but to exalt God and open doors to preach the gospel.  The truth was undeniable!  These men were representatives of God.Although I believe that the age of miraculous events have now passed away, I do still believe in the miracle working power of God.  He has already promoted His church and proven the authenticity of the people, therefore no speaking in tongues is necessary in our day.  However, when we as the church obey the commands of Scripture, serve Him faithfully, worship Him passionately, and share His gospel lovingly – the world witnesses the authentic Christianity of the Bible.May that be our goal as we serve God in His power for His glory!Rev. Josh Buice