Based on Acts 5:12-16
Let’s Make Some Applications
First, let us remember to hear the words of the apostles as we hear the Word of the Incarnate Christ… as the Word of God itself. The miracles testify to the apostles being approved of by God; thus, their word is to be received as His Word. We should never allow ourselves to engage in any sort of red letter reading of the Bible. We should stand against any teaching that divides Peter and Paul from each other or from Christ. We must rightly handle the Word of God and not turn the two testaments or parts of each testament against the other. The Scriptures are all God-breathed, sufficient, and harmonious. The same affirmations of the work of the Holy Spirit are found in all the authors of Scripture, whether they are apostles or and prophets, and even with Christ Who is the cornerstone.
Second, we must remember that the presence of the miracles attested to the Presence of God. Where God is, there is holiness. We must not forget that God is a God of salvation but also judgment. And judgment, according to Peter, begins “at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18) God is so holy that Scripture says we are “scarcely saved.” God is a God of salvation and mercy but, “it is also a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31). God will be revered as holy by those who draw near. The miracles affirm the apostles as holy and to be heard because they reveal the Presence of God with them. Doctrinally they affirm the man and the mission, but Doxologically, they make the ground holy, and we should remove our shoes as Moses did at the burning bush. In other words, we should approach God with reverence, awe, and thankfulness.
Third, when the early Christians realized there was a power to heal, they grabbed all the sick they could find to bring them to the apostles. But as the Gospel gets started under its own steam, and people begin to experience being born again from God by the Spirit, the miraculous gifts disappear so as not to distract from the greater gift. The greater gift is regeneration. The greater gift is the re-birth. But the new life comes with a new desire for worship. They weren’t laying their sick in just any street. They lay their sick in the streets outside the Temple entrance nearest Solomon’s Portico, nearest where the Church gathered for worship. They brought their friends as close to their worship as they could get them at the time. But there is no Temple any longer because all who have the Spirit are temples of the Holy Spirit, and together as living stones, we are being built into a Temple of the Living God upon the earth together. We don’t grab our lame friends and bring them hoping for an apostles’ shadow, we bring them to the worship of God so that the Light of Christ can penetrate their darkened hearts. Does this happen at home, while driving a car, or sometimes at work? Yes. Of course. But where does it most often occur? In the public worship of God. And usually, the at home, in the car, and at work experiences happen because of seeds sown through the public preaching of God’s Word. I’m all for individual evangelism. But most aren’t equipped for it as a special work of God. Most are not evangelists. The gifts are given to the Church, and the Church practices those gifts corporately. We are not random atoms like the world outside. We are not individualists in that way. There is beauty and mystery in the worship of God. There is a special place afforded to the public worship in God’s economy. The Holy Spirit uses the prayers, Psalms, hymns, reading of the Word of God, confessions, catechisms, sacraments, and above all, the preaching of the Word of God to both save sinners and sanctify saints.
1 John 5:19-20
19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
If we truly desire our friends and loved ones to come to Christ, we should bring them to Jesus and the apostles to be healed. Where are they found? Of course, they are found in the Scriptures. But I know of no place where a soul is inundated with Scripture (or at least they should be) as when they enter into the public worship of God with Christ’s Church. Let us bring them before God in prayer and into Christ’s Church for worship. So long as we are either acting as solo evangelists or worshiping God without making use of Scripture (or both those things as we are currently doing), I would not look for a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit. We must return to corporate evangelism and corporate worship. We must remember the place of the Church in God’s economy and see ourselves and our ministry as part of the fabric of the whole. We must make the worship of God the center of our lives and invite our lost friends into that center. If we continue to intellectually affirm the Gospel in our sermons and books but practically deny it by our prayerlessness and our undermining of the place of worship in the life of the saints, we will never see what we desire, which is spiritual renewal. Spiritual renewal will come with a renewal of our desire to worship God. Spiritual renewal will come with a renewal of the place of prayer among us. Spiritual renewal will come when we bring the lost to the apostles, prophets, and to Christ the cornerstone to be taught. Spiritual renewal will come when we return to being concerned with the exaltation of God as a people, when we invite others into the Presence of God to worship and adore Him. Let us bring the world before the whole counsel of God through our worship of the One true God through Jesus Christ Whom He has sent.
Thanks for taking the time to read this series. Look for our new series to begin Monday based on Acts 5:17-26.
May God be with you!