Sunday Sermon: ‘Ekklesia – Jesus Saves!’

Standard
1 ¶  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
2  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4  And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5  And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

This Sunday we continue with our studies in the book of Acts. Last week we looked at the day of Pentecost and how the Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to become Christ’s witnesses. Most of us are a bit shy and fearful when it comes to sharing the gospel. God knew that we would be like that and that is why He sent His Spirit to empower us. Today we will see how, when someone is walking closely with the Lord, they can suddenly be empowered to witness, even in an unexpected moment. Today we will focus on how God used the disciples to proclaim – “Jesus Saves!”

Periodically I hear someone say, “We’ve got to get outside of the church building. We’ve got to reach out into our community. We’ve got to take it to the workplace and the college campuses, etc.” I agree. The question is, how many of us are actually doing that and if not, why not? I’ll give you two reasons why we’re not: fear and awkwardness. “How do you start that kind of conversation?” some might ask. Many times, that other person will start it for us, if we are alert and prepared. But one important thing is needed. We have to have sharing the gospel on our heart. It has to be on our lips so that we are ready to share when that unexpected moment comes. We have to be praying for the opportunities and then living expectantly that the Lord will work with us and give us those moments.

Acts 3
1  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
2  And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
NOTE – Alms means a donation to the poor.

4  And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5  And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

I. The Scene

Peter and John, who often partnered together in the ministry, went to the temple during the time of afternoon prayer. Some have suggested that the reason they were going to the temple to pray was because they were Jewish and still making the transition from their Jewish traditions and heritage and learning what it meant to be a follower of Christ. Perhaps that is so, perhaps they enjoyed praying in the temple. Perhaps, and I believe most likely, they were hoping for an opportunity to share the gospel.

On their way there, they came upon a crippled man who had been lame since his birth and who was carried daily to one of the gates entering the temple area so that he might beg for money. There were nine gates someone might use to enter this area. Was it coincidence that Peter and John were entering that same gate? I don’t believe so. I believe that it was a God-ordained moment. As Peter and John walked past the man, the lame man asked them for money. Peter, no doubt, full of the Holy Spirit said to him – “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” I have always admired the courage and boldness that Peter demonstrated at that moment. The Bible says that they then took the man by the right hand, lifted him up and immediately he began to walk. Soon his walking turned into leaping and jumping and praising God. You can imagine the excitement of the man as well as the attention he quickly drew.

9    And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
10     And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
11     And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

II. The Sign

12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
13  The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus …

Peter acted surprised although I believe that he was being sarcastic. “Why are you so shocked that this miracle has been performed? This is not the first time something like this has been done in your midst. As a matter of fact, greater miracles than this have been done. Jesus of Nazareth even raised men from the dead!” That’s kind of what Peter was implying and getting ready to explain.

The ability to heal someone in this kind of way has to come from God. Why did God have Peter and John heal this man? Some might say that Peter was able to heal this man because God doesn’t want us to be sick. I agree that God is gracious and that He often heals; however, I struggle with telling everyone, even Christians, that God never wants them to be sick or to suffer and I’ll tell you why.

The New Testament refers to several godly people who suffered from some form of sickness. Timothy struggled with a stomach ailment. A faithful Christian man by the name of Epaphroditus became sick and almost died. The Apostle Paul spent a great deal of his life, if not the rest of his life, with a thorn in the flesh. I don’t think that it’s correct or fair to try to tell a Christian that we’re not supposed to ever get sick or to suffer. We need to understand that the Lord often allows His children to suffer and there are several reasons why.

  1. The Bible teaches us in the book of James that suffering can be a form of testing regarding the genuineness of our faith. Job is also another great example of this.
  2. The Bible teaches us that God sometimes uses suffering as a means of purifying our faith. 1st Peter talks a lot about this.
  3. The Bible also teaches us that God sometimes uses suffering to make us stronger. Paul is a perfect example of this in 2 Corinthians 12. Paul’s strength was not that he himself became stronger, but that through suffering, he learned to lean upon God and His grace.
  4. The Bible teaches us that God sometimes allows suffering to bring Himself glory. God allowed Lazarus to get sick and even to die so that Jesus might be glorified in raising him from the dead.
  5. In the case of the man at the temple, God allowed his suffering for the purpose of spreading the gospel.

In order to properly understand what happened that day and why, we need to take a moment and examine some other passages of Scripture.

Mark 16
15  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

20  And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

  • What were the disciples told to do? Go in to all the world and preach the gospel to every person
  • What happened in conjunction with their preaching? The Lord worked with them, confirming their message with ‘signs’ that followed the example that He Himself had set.
Hebrews 2
3  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

1 Corinthians 14
21  In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
22  Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

The Bible teaches us that ‘signs, wonders and miracles’ were often used to confirm the gospel message being preached by the disciples. That’s what happened in chapter two with tongues and that’s what’s happening with the healing of the crippled man. God is confirming the authenticity of the gospel message. Does God still work in that way today? Does God still use these types of things to confirm the authenticity of His message and messenger? Let me ask you a question. How do you measure whether or not my preaching is true? What light do you hold my preaching against in order to confirm its authenticity? Many of you comment to me that you are thankful that I preach from the Bible. Now that we have the complete Bible, we measure a man’s message against God’s Word.

I’m thankful that this man was healed, however, his healing was not the real issue. Peter and John did not go to the temple to heal someone. They went to be Christ’s witnesses and as we have seen in God’s Word, the healing was the Lord’s way of confirming that what Peter and John was preaching was true. Better yet, the healing confirmed that indeed Jesus was the Messiah and that all men should receive Him.

III. The Sermon

Acts 3
12  And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to
walk?
13  The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
14  But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
15  And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
16  And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
17  And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
18  But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

“Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” What does that mean? First of all, let’s consider what it means to ‘repent.’ Literally the word means – {a change of mind.} It means a 180 degree turn from the direction you were going. It means to turn and now go in the opposite direction. If you keep going in the same direction, you haven’t repented.

Spiritual repentance affects us in at least two different ways: in our attitude and in our actions. Repentance is a change in our attitude about Jesus and about self. The men Peter was preaching to were very self-righteous men. In their mind, they didn’t need a Savior to die for their sins. That’s why they so strongly opposed Jesus. Jesus confronted them with their sins and they didn’t like that. Jesus told them:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. . . I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Mt 9:12)

He was not saying that they were not sinners, but because they refused to admit that they were sinful, He couldn’t help them. The first step to salvation is a godly sorrow over your sin. Someone who is not sorrowful over their sin is not going to truly repent and turn from it. Do you believe that you are sick with sin and need healing? Before Jesus can give eternal life to someone, they must first realize that they are dead in their trespasses and sins.

Repentance that brings salvation is a change of our attitude. It is also a change in our actions. Consider these verses of scripture from 1 John –

1 John 2
3  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 3
6  Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
7  Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

John is not saying that a believer who repents will then live in sinless perfection. In chapter 1 he talks about ‘walking in the light.’
1 John 1
5  This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6  If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
John is not saying that we will obtain sinless perfection, but he is saying that there will be a change in our attitude about sin and that change in our attitude about sin will produce a change in our actions in regards to sin. We won’t keep living in sin and when we do sin, we will seek forgiveness and cleansing.

John the Baptist spoke of the ‘fruit of repentance.’ One translation puts it – “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” Salvation produces a great change in someone’s life.

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Some translations put it – “all things are becoming new.” I like that. Some things change immediately and other things take time, but nevertheless, there is going to be a change if there has been a conversion. A confession without a change is not conversion.  “Repent of your sins and be converted to following Christ” is what Peter preached that day.

IV. The Salvation

Acts 4
1  And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
2  Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3  And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.
4  Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Many of you have tried to share your faith with others and had little success. As a result, you believe that you must not know enough or that you’re not ready. The verses I just read teach us that unfortunately, not everyone is going to be saved. God has commanded the church to present the gospel and give every man the opportunity. Some will receive and some will reject. Jesus said that it is a broad road and a wide gate that leads to destruction and many there be that go in thereat. It is a strait gate and a narrow road that leads to everlasting life and only a few will find it. That straight road and narrow way is not us trying to live a perfect life, but the fact that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no man will come to the Father but by Jesus. Note vs. 12

Acts 4
12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Few there will be who will repent of their sin and in faith turn to Jesus and thus be converted. Note those that rejected Jesus that day.

1  And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
2  Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3  And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

Sadducees were similar to Pharisees, one of the main difference was that they felt that teaching concerning the resurrection was foolish. They were ’sad you see.’ They did not repent and they were not saved.

But praise God, there were many who did. The five thousand listed here could mean an additional five thousand souls that were saved, or most likely, an additional two thousand to the three thousand at Pentecost and now the church was over five thousand men plus their wives and children.

The disciples were obedient and God was doing a great work. If the disciples had not taken the gospel to the streets, thousands would have never heard and two thousand would have never been saved.

We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land, climb the mountains, cross the waves;
Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Give the winds a mighty voice: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Let the nations now rejoice: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Shout salvation full and free; highest hills and deepest caves;
This our song of victory: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

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