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MIRACLE WITH A PURPOSE
(THE TRUE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT)
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
30 APRIL 1989
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Today we are continuing with our look at the power of the Holy Spirit, and how He interacts with us to glorify Jesus Christ.
Remember what we have discussed previously: that the Holy Spirit does not act to bring glory to any man or even to Himself, but for the glory of the entire Trinity, or to Jesus Christ.
In our Old Testament lesson for this morning, Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Moses prophesied of the coming of Messiah in a form that the people could relate to without fear.
Let's take another look at this passage:
15. "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.
Moses is a type of Christ, in that he led his people away from the bondage of sin in Egypt.
And God worked many miracles through Moses, so that the Israelites would realize that it was not the work of man, but seek the Lord their God with all of their heart, soul and might.
But they still didn't fully listen or believe, even though God continually appeared to them as a column of smoke by day and a column of fire by night.
Thus Moses is telling them that God will raise up others like him, and also the ultimate deliverer, Jesus Christ.
But why in the form of man?
16. "This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.'
With sin in our lives, it is a terrible and fearful thing to come into the presence of our living, holy, and righteous God.
All the people knew that there was sin in their lives, and that if God continued in their presence, as He had that day, they would die.
And the same is true for us today.
17. "And the Lord said to me, 'They have spoken well.
18. '1 will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in His mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
19. 'And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
These are very strong words, and they are still true today.
From the time of Moses, God sent many prophets to Israel and to the nations around them, in order that they should turn to God from their evil ways; but they would not listen.
They even killed most of them.
Then God sent His only Son to them, and they killed Him too.
But His death had an eternal purpose: that all who believed on Him and repented, would not die, but have eternal life.
And as Jesus was dying on the cross, he said, "It is finished," for His blood had paid the price for all sin, for all time.
But most still didn't believe, so He rose from the dead to prove that all He said was true.
And others believed, but still most did not.
Then He ascended into heaven, to accomplish all that He had set in motion.
Shortly afterwards, He sent the Holy Spirit as a comforter to all who believe, and to give us the power to overcome the world.
So, this morning, in our New Testament lesson, Acts 3, we are going to take a specific look at one miracle, and the resulting purpose of that miracle, so that we might understand the true power and workings of the Holy Spirit.
Follow along in your Bibles with me, as we study and relate to God's word:
1. Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.
It is also the hour of the day in which Jesus died.
Note also that Peter and John are no longer fishing in Galilee, but have returned to Jerusalem, for the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon them.
They are no longer being fish-killers; they are now life-givers to human beings.
2. And a certain man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple.
3. And when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.
4. And Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, "Look at us!"
Mary and I were in New York City on Monday, and in Grand Central Station there were several people begging, and they also asked for money, but they didn't really look at us as individuals, but as just part of the mass of people.
They acted in much the same manner as this man.
So Peter and John said, "Look at us!"
5. And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
6. But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – walk!"
We are very much like this lame man, we want something to make our present life easier, but God wants to give us a new life.
And also like this man, most people fail to respond when this new life is offered to them.
So Peter had to encourage him.
7. And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.
8. And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
Do you hear whom this man is praising?
He is praising God!
He isn't giving credit for his healing to Peter or John, for they did nothing to indicate that they did it with their own power.
They told this man to walk by the power of Jesus Christ; thus he is giving the credit and praise to God, and not man.
True joy fills the hearts of all who care to understand.
Now we begin to see the real purpose for this miracle.
9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God;
10. and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Just as Peter had to attract the attention of this lame man by saying, "Look at us!", God is using this healing to attract the attention of the people away from themselves.
11. And while he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement.
All were filled with amazement.
The man who was lame from birth, and could now walk and leap about, could not let go of Peter and John because of the amazement that filled every part of his being.
The people must have been saying, "This was really something! How did this miracle happen?"
So they also gathered around Peter and John.
Perhaps they were looking for a miracle of their own.
Perhaps they wanted to know about the power that Peter and John possessed.
Perhaps they were just curious.
Or, perhaps they were truly interested as to why God had done this wonderful thing.
12. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?
Peter, who is also filled with the Holy Spirit, immediately tries to turn their attention off of John and himself and give the glory to God.
Every true servant of God will do the same.
13. "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.
14. "But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
15. but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.
Here we see the true work of the Holy Spirit maturing, for He is trying to lead them to salvation.
But there can be no salvation without repentance.
And there can be no repentance without conviction and remorse.
Thus Peter and the Holy Spirit are reminding them of their sin.
But God always convicts people of their sins in love, as any loving parent should do.
Listen to the words of Peter as he follows the urgings of the Holy Spirit:
16. "And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
17. "And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.
18. "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
19. "Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
20. and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,
21. whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.
Do you see the true power of the Holy Spirit at work here?
God wants all to come to repentance and be saved.
He wants to remove the burden of our sin from us.
He wants to restore each and every one of us, and refresh us.
22. "Moses said, 'The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you.
23. 'And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'
24. "And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.
25. "It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'
26. "For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways."
So, what result do you think these words had on the people?
The chapter is over.
In each and every one of our lives, we have lived through similar chapters. What did we do?
No one other than that lame man got healed, either.
Why do you think?
The real power of the Holy Spirit is to heal people's souls, and not necessarily their bodies.
So, what do you think happened?
Let's take a look at the beginning of the next chapter and see:
1. And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
2. being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3. And they laid hands on them, and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening.
The truth is always the truth, no matter how much some people try to say otherwise.
Peter was telling the truth, and it was very convicting to the temple leaders, for they were the ones who had plotted against Jesus.
But instead of repenting because of the conviction, they rebelled against the truth.
The truth can not be hidden away, or put out of reach in prison, or even put to death.
And the Holy Spirit is with us to convict us of the truth, and to give us the insight and wisdom to know what to do about it.
These leaders knew the truth, but they denied it; and many around us do the same.
But what about those who heard the truth and were convicted in their hearts, but did not rebel against it?
What happened to them?
4. But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
What a wonderful testimony of the truth, and of the power of the Holy Spirit working in and around us.
On the day of Pentecost about 3,000 were saved, and here we see that another 2,000 were added to their number.
The true power of the Holy Spirit is to lead people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and to glorify Him in the process.
Sometimes God will use a miracle to attract our attention, and other times He may just use the Word; but no matter what method He uses, it is to lead us into a strong personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
And in this relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit comes an unfathomable joy.
And like Peter and John, we no longer cause or support death and suffering, but seek to bring healing and life to the world.
Never be satisfied with what you have received, for it leads us to being lazy Christians.
Always seek the higher plane, for the Lord will always have something more for us as long as we continue to share it with others.
The Holy Spirit always wants us to glorify Jesus, so we should always seek to live our lives for Jesus Christ, for He lives for us.
And we will never have to worry about facing tomorrow, for He will be with us to strengthen us to walk with Him.