Thought for the Week 18 - 19th July 2020 by Rev Peter Baxandall

(18)   19th July            Acts 3:1-19       In the name of Jesus                       

The passage on which we focus for our ‘Thought for the week’ comes from Acts 3:1-19.

In this chapter we see only part of the story of the healing of a lame man at the ‘Beautiful Gate’ and the subsequent appearance of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin.

The rest of the story continues in the last part of chapter 3 and on into chapter 4 - and you can read the rest of the story in your own time.

However, we will refer to Chapter 4 in our comments as there are a number of significant aspects within that chapter and we will refer to them at different times within this study.

Before that we will look to God in prayer as we begin and then sing a song together – but first, a prayer.

Prayer

Merciful God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as pass our understanding.

We pray for one another who are members of the church in these parishes of Hopton, Corton and Gunton as we look together at the ‘Thought for the week’.

Pour into our hearts such love toward you that we might love  you in all things and above all things.

May we obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

For our opening Hymn today we turn again to one of Graham Kendrick’s songs, ‘Restore, O Lord’ – written back in 1981.

 

Hymn                           Restore O Lord

Restore, O Lord

The honour of Your name,

In works of sovereign power

Come shake the earth again;

That men may see

And come with reverent fear

To the living God,

Whose kingdom shall outlast the years.

 

Restore, O Lord,

In all the earth Your fame,

And in our time revive

The church that bears Your name.

And in Your anger,

Lord, remember mercy,

O living God,

Whose mercy shall outlast the years.

 

Bend us, O Lord,

Where we are hard and cold,

In Your refiner’s fire

Come purify the gold.

Though suffering comes

And evil crouches near,

Still our living God

Is reigning, He is reigning here.

 

Restore, O Lord,

The honour of Your name,

In works of sovereign power

Come shake the earth again;

That men may see

And come with reverent fear

To the living God,

Whose kingdom shall outlast the years

 

In the first verse of that song we sang: ‘Restore, O Lord the honour of Your name’, and the ‘Name’ of Jesus is an important element in this whole story – which we will see as we unpack this passage together

When we talk about the ‘Name’ of Jesus, we do not simply mean the ’title’ by which we know Him – ‘Oh yes, that man – He is the one we know as Jesus’

NO – to speak of the ‘Name’ of Jesus means to speak of all that He is – all His Might, His Authority, His Power, and all that is included in Him being the Son of God.

Therefore, when we sing, ‘Restore, O Lord the honour of Your name’, we are praying that Jesus will help us to see just who He really is and what it means to be able to ‘call upon the Name of Jesus’

Not only has the ‘world’ lost sight of the ‘Name’ of Jesus and just who Jesus is – so too has the church in many ways and we need to be reminded of the ‘power of the Name of Jesus’.

Amazement: Jesus the Healer (Acts 3:1–10)

As Peter addressed the lame man here in Acts 3:6 He did so by saying; ‘In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk’

Peter was claiming the power of the ‘Name’, or total personality of Jesus to heal this lame man.

In Acts 3:16, as Peter addressed the crowd, we read that He said to them: ‘By faith in the ‘Name’ of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ ‘Name’ and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see’.

As part of this incident we see in chapter 4 the appearance of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin and we come across another use of the concept of the ‘Name’ of Jesus in Acts 4:12 – but we will come to that shortly.

However, let’s get back to the story, and at this stage, the believers were still attached to the temple and to the traditional hours of prayer.

Keep in mind that chapters 1–10 of Acts describes a gradual transition from a group that was made up only of the ‘Jewish’ element to become one that would include the Gentiles and from “Jewish Christianity” to the “one body” made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

It took several years before many of the Jewish believers really understood the place of the Gentiles in God’s plans, and this understanding did not come without its difficulties.

The events in Acts 3 are an illustration of the last phrase in Acts 2:47, showing us how the Lord added to His church daily.

While the Holy Spirit is not named in this chapter, He was certainly at work in and through the Apostles, performing His ministry of glorifying Jesus Christ (John 16:14).

Peter and John are often found together in Scripture.

  • They were partners in the fishing business (Luke 5:10);
  • they prepared the last Passover for Jesus (Luke 22:8);
  • they ran to the tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning (John 20:3–4); and
  • they ministered to the Samaritans who believed on Jesus Christ (Acts 8:14).

Now that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were no longer competing for greatness, but were at last working faithfully together to build the church – and, oh how much we need that today!

That Peter and John noticed the lame beggar is another evidence of the Spirit’s ministry.

No doubt thousands of people were near the temple (Acts 4:4), and perhaps scores of beggars, but the Lord prompted Peter and John to heal a lame man lying at the Beautiful Gate.

There were nine gates that led from the court of the Gentiles into the temple itself and we are not sure which was the ‘Beautiful Gate’ but probably it was the one known today as the “Eastern Gate” that led into the court of the women.

The giving of alms was an important part of the Jewish faith, so beggars found it profitable to be near the temple.

Since the believers had pooled their resources (Acts 2:44–45), it was not surprising that the two Apostles had no money to give; but money was not what the man needed most.

He needed salvation for his soul and healing for his body, and money could provide neither.

Through the power of the ‘Name’ of Jesus, the beggar was completely healed; and he was so happy and excited that he acted like a child, walking, leaping and praising God.

It is easy to see in this man an illustration of what salvation is like - he was born lame, and all of us are born unable to walk in such a way so as to please God.

Our father Adam had a ‘fall’ and passed his lameness of sin on to all of his descendants in every generation (Rom. 5:12–21).

The man was also poor, and we as sinners are bankrupt before God, unable to pay the tremendous debt that we owe Him (Luke 7:36–50).

He was “outside the temple,” and all sinners are separated from God, no matter how near to the door they might be.

The man was healed entirely by the grace of God, and the healing was immediate (Eph. 2:8–9).

He gave evidence of what God had done by “walking, and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:8) and by publicly identifying himself with the Apostles, both in the temple (Acts 3:11) and in their arrest (Acts 4:14).

Now that he could stand physically, there was no question where this man stood spiritually!

Indictment: Jesus, the Son of God (Acts 3:11–16)

The healing of the lame beggar drew a crowd around the three men.

Solomon’s Porch, on the east side of the temple, was a corridor where our Lord had ministered (John 10:23) and where the church worshiped (Acts 5:12).

In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter had to refute the accusation that the believers were drunk.

In this sermon, he had to refute the notion that he and John had healed the man by their own power.

Peter immediately identified the source of the miracle - Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Wisely, Peter said that this was the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The Spirit certainly gave Peter boldness as he reminded the Jews of the way they had treated Jesus.

They had denied Him and delivered Him up to be crucified.

Even worse, they had asked for a guilty man, Barabbas, to be set free so that an innocent prisoner might be crucified!

In order to make his point, Peter used several different names and titles for our Lord:

  • God’s Son,
  • Jesus,
  • the Holy One,
  • the Just One,
  • the Prince (Pioneer) of life.

This was no ordinary man that they had handed over to the Romans to crucify!

In chapter 3, verse 15 we read that Peter said to the crowd, ‘you killed the author of life – BUT GOD raised Him from the dead’  - Oh how I love the phrase BUT GOD

Calvary may have been man’s last word, but the empty tomb showed that God was able to do far more than ‘man’s’ worst.

He glorified His Son by raising Him from the dead and taking Him back to heaven.

The enthroned Christ had sent His Holy Spirit and was working through His church.

The healed beggar was proof that Jesus was alive.

If ever a people were guilty, it was the people Peter addressed in the temple - they were guilty of killing their own Messiah!

This is probably not the kind of message we would expect at an evangelistic meeting today, but it went straight to the point for Peter’s hearers because it was designed especially for his Jewish audience.

As at Pentecost, Peter was addressing people who knew the Scriptures and were acquainted with the recent events in Jerusalem (see Luke 24:18).

It was not a group of ignorant ‘pagans’ with no religious background.

Furthermore, the Jewish leaders had indeed perpetrated a great injustice when they arrested and condemned Jesus and asked Pilate to have Him crucified.

How many citizens agreed with their decision, we do not know; but you can imagine the remorse of the people when they learned that they had betrayed and killed their own Messiah.

There must be conviction before a sinner can experience conversion.

Unless a patient is convinced that he is sick, he will never accept the diagnosis or take the treatment.

Peter turned the temple into a courtroom and laid all the evidence out for everybody to see.

How could two ordinary fishermen perform such a great miracle unless God was with them?

Nobody would dare deny the miracle because the beggar stood there before them all in “perfect soundness” (Acts 3:16; 4:14).

To accept the miracle would have been to admit that Jesus Christ is indeed the living Son of God and that His ‘Name’ has power.

But Peter did not leave the people without hope.

Peter invited these ‘murderers’ to flee to Jesus Christ by faith and find refuge in Him (Heb. 6:18).

In his previous sermon, Peter had explained that the Cross was the meeting place of divine sovereignty on the one hand and human responsibility on the other (Acts 2:23); and he repeated this truth in this second sermon (Acts 3:17–18).

Peter’s burden was to encourage his people to trust Christ and experience His gracious salvation.

What did he tell them to do?

(1)     They had to repent of their sins (see Acts 2:38; 5:31; 17:30), which means to have a change of mind about themselves, their sin, and about Jesus Christ.

Repentance is much more than ‘feeling sorry for your sins - it means feeling sorry enough to quit!’

False sorrow for sin could be mere regret (“I’m sorry I got caught!”) or remorse (“I feel terrible!”); and there is every chance that such feelings disappear in a very short while.

True repentance is admitting that what God says is true, and because it is true, to see the need to change our mind about our sins and about the Saviour.

The person who sincerely repents will have little problem putting his faith in the Saviour.

(2)     They had to be converted, “to turn again” and exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ, or as Jesus Himself put it ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:7).

The biblical message is “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21), and the two go together.

Balanced evangelism presents to the sinner both repentance and faith.

In chapter 3:19 Peter announced what would happen if they repented and turned to Jesus Christ: “in order that your sins may be blotted out, in order that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.’

While Peter was speaking to the crowd that had gathered, at the same time he was actually calling for national repentance - for the nation through its leaders had denied its Messiah and condemned Him to die.

The nation did not repent - and certainly God knew this would happen – and as we see the message of the gospel eventually moved from the Jews to the Samaritans (Acts 8) and to the Gentiles (Acts 10).

Peter was addressing a large crowd, but he still made the application personal.

His message produced two opposite results:

(1) some 2,000 Jews believed the Word and were converted,

(2) the religious leaders of the nation rejected the message and tried to silence the Apostles.

Instead of honestly examining the evidence, the leaders arrested the Apostles and kept them in custody overnight, intending to try them the next day.

However, the arrival of the temple guards could not prevent 2,000 men from trusting Jesus Christ and identifying themselves with the believers in Jerusalem.

As you review this section of Acts, you cannot help but be impressed with some practical truths that should encourage all of us in our witnessing for Christ.

  1. God is long-suffering with lost sinners.
  2. True witness involves the “bad news” of sin and guilt as well as the “good news” of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
  3. The way to reach the masses is by helping the individual sinner.
  4. The best defence of the truth of the Christian faith is a changed life.
  5. Whenever God blesses, Satan shows up to oppose the work and silence the witness; and often he uses religious people to do his work.
  6. God has promised to bless and use His Word, so let’s be faithful to witness.
  7. The name of Jesus Christ still has power!

I said earlier that we would look at Acts 4:12 – and we will do that right now.

Having seen the healing of the lame man at the ‘Beautiful Gate’ Peter and John found themselves at the centre of attention.

First it was the amazed crowd who wanted to know more about what had taken place and just how it came about.

As we have seen, Peter did not waste the opportunity to speak to this crowd and in chapter 4:4 we discover that the Lord added to their number another 2,000 to the 3,000 we read of in chapter 2:41

Having been arrested and put in jail overnight Peter and John also found themselves at the centre of attention in front of the Sanhedrin.

As we can see from chapter 4:7 Peter and John were asked ‘By what power or what ‘Name’ did you do this?’

Again, Peter did not waste the opportunity to be very clear in his witness to who Jesus is and as he spoke we have the verse I have mentioned – Acts 4:12.

Here we read, ‘Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other ‘Name’ under heaven, (other than the ‘Name’ of Jesus) given to men and women by which we must be saved’

That is a powerful statement.

No other Name – not Mohammod, not Buddha and not any other religious leader the world over – has the power to give Salvation.

However, there is POWER in the ‘Name’ of Jesus – and we need to grasp reality and significance of that fact.

As we pray, ‘restore, O Lord the honour of Your ‘Name’ we are reminded that we can still claim the authority of the ‘Name’ of Jesus Christ as He has instructed us in the Word.

We can preach the “forgiveness of sins” in His name (Luke 24:47) so that people might believe and have “life through His name” (John 20:31).

We can ask in His name as we pray (John 14:13–14; 15:16; 16:23–26).

When we ask the Father for something “in the name of Jesus Christ,” it is as though Jesus Himself were asking it.

As we seek to take in all that it means to ‘call upon the ‘Name’ of Jesus’ and to experience afresh that there is ‘power in the ‘Name’ of Jesus’ we need to continually pray that God will enable us to live with the reality of what it all means for us today.

And so as we draw this study to an end, we turn to prayer and then a Hymn for us to sing together.

Prayer

Everlasting God, we join together in praying to you for the needs the church, the world, our communities and ourselves as we  trust in your love to surround us at this time.

Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father, we pray for your church here in Hopton, Corton and Gunton as we look at what it means for us to re-open our church buildings for us to come together for worship.

Grant us wisdom and grace as we make these plans asking that you will guide us through all the extra things we need to take into consideration.

            Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Creator God, we pray for your world. 

Forgive us when we are ungrateful and when spiritual blindness prevents us from appreciating the wonder of your creation.

We pray for the farmers around as they seek to grow the crops, raise their flocks and their cattle and do all that is necessary to bring to market all the produce that we need.

            Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Father God, we continue to pray for the future of the 3 parishes here in Gunton, Hopton and Corton. 

Help us to be flexible and adaptable in all of our relationships and also capable of accepting constructive comments as we seek to grown together into the future that you want for us.

We pray that there will be a person of your choice who will eventually be led to join us – may they be a person filled with the Holy Spirit and open to your leading as together we seek to make Christ known in our neighbourhood.

            Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Loving God and Lord of life, we pray for the gift of courage to face up to and cope with illness especially during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

We pray for all whom we know who are ill or in need just now, and we pray for all ‘front line’ workers seeking to bring health and wholeness.

            Lord in your mercy: hear our prayer.

Gracious God, give us ears to hear and minds to understand the message that you have for us in this weeks ‘Thought for the week’.

We thank you for the opportunity of being together in prayer.

As we look forward to the week to come, we pray for an awareness of your love and support in all we do.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

And so, we turn to a song to close this ‘Thought for the week’

The song that I have chosen to end with is more than likely one that most of you do not know.

However, it so fits the theme of ‘power in the Name of Jesus’ that I felt it right to include it.

There are only the two short verses, and the tune has the words sung for us to listen to – and the whole song is sung through twice – so my suggestion is that if you do not know it, then listen to It the first time through and then join in singing it the second time through.

I hope that you can find blessing in this song and in what we have shared together this week.

Hymn    There is power in the name of Jesus;

There is power in the name of Jesus;

we believe in His name.

We have called on the name of Jesus;

we are saved, we are saved.

At His name the demons flee,

at His name captives are freed;

for there is no other name

that is higher than Jesus

 

There is power in the name of Jesus;

like a sword in our hands.

We declare in the name of Jesus;

we shall stand, we shall stand

At His name God’s enemies

shall be crushed beneath our feet

for there is no other name

that is higher than Jesus

 


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