Read Acts 3-4
Here is the marvelous story of a man restored. Signs and wonders continue to follow the Apostles and the cures of Christ are evident to all. Lame, beggarly and earthbound, he is lifted heavenward and restored in Jesus’ name.
It happened at the hour of prayer. It can be said that we will always have more saving of souls when we respect the hour of prayer. If you have a pastor that doesn’t pray, if you have a church that doesn’t pray, if you don’t pray—forget it! You’ll never see the miraculous hand of God at work in your midst.
It happened to a man with scant hope. Verse two tells us he had been this way since he was born. Forty years later, he is eking out survival by the meager mercies of men (4:22). Yet heaven is about to flood him with double mercy—physical healing and soul salvation.
One can only imagine how fossilized he must have felt. He has settled to his lot in life, and we cannot blame him for it. The idea of a new life never entered his mind. But it was upon the Lord’s mind.
It happened to man who was in a state of inaction. He couldn’t walk. It was the Lord acting upon him that raised him. He is the same as many of us. We couldn’t walk right. We walked in wrong-way-living and fell into the same sin over and over and over again. The disabled man cannot will himself to stand and walk. He must be acted upon with power outside of himself. We are humbled to realize that it was God who saved us and not anything we have done. It is God who grants us the ability to act when we cannot on our own.
The scriptures are clear on who is behind our salvation, our repentance, and our conversion—He is!
“And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47
“When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”” (Acts 11:18, NKJV)
“…correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,” (2 Timothy 2:25, ESV)
Look at Paul’s description of our lives before Christ. He describes us as dead, unable to walk right and captured in disobedience by Satan:
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,” (Ephesians 2:1–2, NKJV)
Dead, crippled and captured people can’t do anything for themselves. But look at what God does for such as these:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” (Ephesians 2:4–5, ESV)
Read Acts 3:1-10
There were several gates to the Temple grounds. The Lame man was laid at the Gate Beautiful. It was known for its impressive size and was covered with Corinthian Brass. It is often in the exterior of beauty and riches that hide the most beleaguered of souls.
My brother lived in a penthouse in Marina Del Rey and drove brand new Mercedes. But he was crippled by addiction and loss. He called me from beautiful, vaulted ceilings and a panorama view of the harbor below him to ask me about the “reason for the hope I had.”
How many of the famous do we know of who died lonely deaths behind magnificent gates and mansion doors?
The lame man was begging at the Gate Beautiful and it was in total contrast to what his exterior pretended to.
Jesus exposed the reality behind the exterior of those who seemed successful when he addressed the Pharisees:
““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27, ESV)
The truth is that what the world thinks is often beautiful or great—isn’t. Straight teeth, manicured nails and rocking the trend in fashion may impress the majority, but God sees what’s on the inside.
It may often be found that there is a great inconsistency between what is presented and what is actually possessed.
The lame man made no pretension. The Gate Beautiful, more than likely, gave visitors something more pleasing to the eye to look at than the beggar. The unfortunate and the ‘bottom of society’ rarely have eye contact or personal engagement, let alone compassion, from others. But Peter gave respect to the lame beggar and his soul, “Look at me.” And then they gave him Jesus. He looked back at them expecting scraps but got much more than he had hoped for.
The Gate Beautiful was never more beautiful than it was that day.
Read: Acts 3:6-11
What we think we need we often don’t need. What we don’t think we need we do. He thought he needed money.
He needed Jesus, he just didn't know it yet.
Peter says, “Silver and gold have I none but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus rise up and walk.”
You cannot give what you do not possess. Peter and John had empty pockets but were filled with Jesus. They gave Jesus away.
Dead preachers and dead Christians are like dead hens, they can produce no life.
Peter gave him a hand up.
To give a man a hand up is helpful and rehabilitating. A permanent hand up is debilitating and will permanently hinder a man. If there is one thing I have learned as a pastor, I cannot save a soul and I cannot make someone walk in the Lord. And believe me, I have tried. I can give a hand up, but it is the Lord who must do the miracle.
All the kings horses and all the kings men can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again and neither can I.
This man, as we noted before, got help from the outside in. A work of grace was in motion. Peter says later that it was through faith in His name that the man was made whole (6).”
We see the man doing something he had never done before: standing, walking, leaping and praising God. Others saw and were filled with wonder and amazement. How many of us were soundly saved and the people around us took notice? They may have praised God for the dramatic change in your life. Or they may have cursed you. But they noticed and they couldn’t argue with the fact. The critics in the Sanhedrin couldn’t deny it.
“saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.” (Acts 4:16, ESV)
And your friends from before can’t deny it either:
“For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” (1 Peter 4:3–6, ESV)
Whether you are encouraged or criticized, Jesus will get glory from the miracle of one changed life.
Read Acts 3:10
“And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” (Acts 3:12, ESV)
The crowd was astounded at the miracle. The formerly lame, now leaping man, clung to Peter and John. He didn’t hold to them out of fear of falling over but out of affection for them. He had run and jumped himself from the Gate Beautiful to Solomon’s Colonnade, a pillared and covered area on the perimeter of the temple grounds. People saw him and mentally connected him to the same lame guy that was by the gate every day. They were filled with amazement. They clearly thought Peter and John were behind the miracle.
Peter quickly reminds them that he and John are nobodies.
People, me and you, are too prone to worship people. We too easily make heroes and good men into gods. Most men would too easily, not only allow it, but encourage it!
Peter will not.
I will tell you something: every man I have ever made a hero of, has disappointed me in the end. There is only one Man worthy of praise and He will never disappoint—you know His Name.
Peter and John will share no glory with Jesus. That is the secret to why God used them so powerfully.
Friends, the moment you take one iota of credit for the works of the Lord, know this: the Spirit will be grieved away from you and that good work.
This is why it is said, “If the devil can’t keep you from a good work, he will make you proud of it and ruin it that way.”
King Saul began a nobody. He didn’t want to be king and hid among the baggage when he sought to be anointed by Samuel. But once exalted, it went to his head. One of the last scenes of Saul, before the Spirit departed from him, was his inglorious erecting of a monument to himself after a military victory.
“And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.”” (1 Samuel 15:12, ESV)
He forgot that he was only an instrument and now imagined himself an icon.
God will not share his glory:
“I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other.” (Isaiah 42:8, ESV)
Paul will later in the book of Acts be nearly worshipped after healing a lame man. He will dramatically and immediately make his point:
“And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” (Acts 14:13–15, ESV)
Read Acts 3:11-25
The cure of Christ draws a crowd. Peter doesn’t have to write a new message. He preaches an old one. If we want an apostolic demonstration of saving power in the church of today, we need to go back to the first message as it was preached with power the first time.
“Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16, ESV)
Peter preaches to them as he did when the church was born:
Pointing to his prophetic fulfillment through the scriptures.
Proclaiming his personal eyewitness to Christ’s resurrection.
Proving their guilt and hand in his death.
Provoking them to repentance.
Presenting the Gospel of Grace to remove their sin.
Promising comfort follow their repentance.
What is the result of this glorious message? It is even better than the first time he preached it—5,000 souls.