February 20, 2022

MIRACLE WORKERS

Passage: Acts 3:1-10

1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
— Acts 3:1-10, ESV

I often warn the church about the greatest heresy in modern Christendom and its worst practitioners.  The heresy is the so-called “prosperity gospel” and the practitioners are the televangelists who preach it.  To debunk them I want to go all the way back to the earliest days of Church history and look at our first preachers and their relationship with money, miracles, and faith.

The televangelists major on getting money, Peter and John had accumulated none to give.  The televangelists preach a faith without the gospel that begets miracles without proof.  Peter and John performed a real miracle, and the result was that people came to faith in the true gospel, and their miracle was examined and recored by the renowned medical doctor of the day, Dr. Luke.

The Great Miracle

There should be no doubt that a great miracle was performed own this day.  The invalid was “lame from birth,” so his malady was well-documented and witnessed.  He had lived the life of a beggar, the lot of life for a disabled first century man incapable of holding a steady job.  “His feet and ankles” were obviously atrophied from inability and lack of use.  Chances are modern-day medicine would not relieve his crippled condition.  He needed a miracle.  And, he got one, a great one.

Notice that this great miracle was done without any fanfare.  Benny Hinn regularly takes the stage to refrains of “How Great Thou Art,” and I don’t think he thinks they’re singing about God.  Peter and John were just going about their regular day and did not draw any attention to themselves.

It was done without solicitation.  The lame man was asking for money from Peter and John, not vice versa.  Televangelists require a monetary donation, a so-called seed of faith, in order for someone to receive their miracle.  Peter and John freely gave what they had freely been given.

The man in question had an obvious, organic defect that was wholly and verifiably made well, as checked by Dr. Luke.  Repeated investigative journalism reports have exposed the televangelists for the frauds that they are.  Biblical miracles are bonafide facts.

This miracle was not predicated on any faith in the recipient, but almost certainly led the recipient to faith, along with many others.  Again, the hucksters require money and faith in advance to get your miracle, God does miracles that lead people to faith.  Maybe faith itself is the greatest miracle of all.

The Great Miracle Workers

It is also important to differentiate the miracle workers in this story from the so-called faith healers of modern times.  Peter and John were Apostles, with a capital “A.”  The select, small group of Apostles had been chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ and endowed by Him with the power to perform miracles.  Such miraculous power, and these great miracle workers, are the last in an extremely short line of miracle workers found in redemptive history.

Moses and his brother, Aaron, were given power by God to perform miracles.  Their miracles led to faith in the people of God and fear in the enemies of God.  It was a critical time in God’s salvation story, Israel’s very existence hung in the balance, and miracles fortified the people’s faith to follow the Lord.  After them, miracle workers ceased for a long season.

Elijah and Elisha, the two greatest non-canonical prophets in the Old Testament, received the mantle of miracles from God.  They astounded people with fire from heaven, floating axe heads, and other fantastic things.  It was a critical time in God’s salvation story, Israel’s very existence was threatened by civil and foreign wars, and God’s men needed an extra boost to call God’s people to repentance and reform.  After them, miracle workers ceased for a long season.

Then along came the Lord Jesus Christ, and His designated Apostles (ref. Acts 2:43), and a short list of the Apostles’ designates (like deacons Stephen and Philip).  This was the critical time in God’s salvation story.  Miracles were displayed, once again for a very short season, to highlight the sovereignty of God, the deity of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.  They gave a critical credibility to the preachers, and brought attention to the message preached, the gospel, to call people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

May I clarify that the age of miracles has never ceased.  God is immutable.  Creation was a miracle, and ever since, God has broken through the natural order of things with supernatural gifts of healing and other helps.  The coming apocalypse, rapture, and new heaven and earth will be the miracle to end all miracles.  Miracles happened, are happening, and will happen because God does not change.

God does not change, but people and procedures do.  There has always been a need for God’s miracles, but miracle workers have been few and far between.  When they appeared, like Peter and John on this stage, it was to promote faith in God.  And, faith in God is the greatest miracle of all.

The Greatest Miracle

The ensuing faith of the miraculously healed man is not explicit in the text.  But it is certainly implied.  He went with his newfound brothers into the Temple to pray and praise God.  In the next text we will find him clinging to the Apostles, and to the apostolic faith, and taking his stand (yes, his stand) with the early church.  We will also find Peter preaching, again, the gospel, again, and harvesting a host of souls for Christ and His church.

Faith does not result in miracles.  Miracles result in faith.  It is the miracle of the incarnation, the virgin birth, the sinless life, the substitutionary atonement, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ which brings people into a miraculous, saving, eternal relationship with God.  The miracle of the gospel proffers the miracle of grace which produces the miracle of faith, which makes salvation by grace through faith in Christ the greatest miracle of all.

Cripples healed can walk, but the day comes when they walk to their grave.  Miracles open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, but death closes them both.  Lazarus came back from the dead, only to return once more.  Miracles of health and wealth, even if the televangelists could do them, are temporary.  The miracle of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal.

Of course, grace has means, and the means of grace has seldom been physical miracles.  Yet in every age grace rides on the wings of people praying, preaching, and witnessing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, the greatest miracle of all, saving faith, does require some miracle workers.

The Greatest Miracle Workers

If faith in Christ is the greatest miracle of all, who are the greatest miracle workers of them all?  Well, it is certainly not Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jimmy Swaggart, or Paula White, to name an ignorant and ignominious few.  And presently it cannot be Simon Peter or the beloved John, for they are now in Paradise with the Lord.

Any true Christian, boldly and lovingly sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with a lost person, is the greatest miracle worker of our day.  Lost people are lame, they cannot walk with God.  Lost people are blind and deaf, they cannot see or hear God.  Lost people are dead, spiritually, and are unable to live for and with the Lord.  That is unless they receive the miracle of faith.  We Christians have the power of faith to give, by giving the gospel, by making the effort to bring people to encounter the gospel, by so ordering our lives that the miracle of faith can take place in other people.

When Atticus Finch impressed upon the jury to acquit Tom Robinson and set him free, he laid out the facts and then implored the jury in his closing argument, “In the name of God, do your duty.”  Christians, we are miracle workers.  We have the word of God and the power of the gospel (ref. Romans 1:16).  In the name of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, let us do our duty.  Let us live for Christ, invite people to Christ’s church, and share the gospel of Christ with them so that they may receive the greatest miracle of all.

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