Dear Friend in Christ:
We live in amazing times and so much of what we encounter is unexpected. Recently, I boarded a plane that would take me back home. The plane was full except for the seat beside me. Then a young woman came and sat in the seat beside me just before the plane took off.
Soon after, I felt that the Lord told me something about her. I struggled with what He said, and wondered why I sensed it. I certainly hoped that I would not have to speak to her about it, fearing that I would be misunderstood or worse, that I could be wrong. I struggled almost the entire trip! I finally asked if I could share something with her, and she said, “Yes.”
I said, “Sometimes the Lord tells me something and I struggle to share it. I believe that He told me that you have a good spirit that needs what I want to say.” She looked at me. “I believe God wants me to encourage you in your fellowship with Him.” She and told me about her job that required a lot of travel. She told me that she and her husband are believers and read the Bible together. Then she said, “Thank you for obeying God.” I was relieved, but I told her, “It was hard!” As the plane landed, I wondered how often I have missed opportunities to simply obey.
Oral Roberts was a noted healing evangelist who often said, “Expect a miracle!” Brother Roberts touched many hundreds of thousands of people through his ministry with healings and miracles because he expected it. I wonder how many believers expect to see God use them in daily life? I wonder about our lack of expectation and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. God’s power cannot be locked up in a church building. He wants to break us out into daily life.
I love the Book of Acts because the Holy Spirit worked through the Apostles to see miracles in daily life, in unexpected people and in public places. In Acts 3:1-10, we see Peter and John going up to the temple. On the way, they encountered a lame beggar who sat there every day. Many people passed him daily as he begged for money. But this day as they passed by and he asked for money, they stopped. “Look on us,” Peter said, and the beggar looked at them expecting to receive money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but what I have I will give you. In the name of Jesus, rise up and walk!” Then he took him by the hand and lifted him up. Immediately, the man received strength and jumped up, walking and leaping and praising God! It was an amazing miracle!
I am a preacher, but my opinion is that people are not looking for more sermons. I think many people come to a church service out of duty, habit, or because they hope to receive some biblical truth or blessing. But what they really need to see is evidence of God’s power.
In Acts, many people knew about the lame beggar and ran to see him leaping and praising God! This did not happen in a meeting; it happened in a public place. They saw it with their own eyes and were amazed.
People can debate about doctrine and religious issues, but a public display of God’s power accomplishes in a moment what a discussion cannot in a lifetime. We live in a secular, unbelieving culture that can only be arrested by a demonstration of God’s power. I remember in the 1940s and 1950s how people came to hear William Branham’s “words of knowledge” when he told people things he could not have known naturally. I also remember how various believers traveled the world sharing testimonies of God’s power in their lives. Millions were born again, filled with the Holy Spirit, and healed. I personally saw miracles as I ministered along with Kathryn Kuhlman.
What would have happened if Peter had just started street preaching without this miracle? I doubt that many would have listened. The power of God prepares listeners to hear!
OUR MESSAGE (ACTS 3:11-26)
Miracles are great, but not enough; people need the truth in order to be saved. After this miracle, Peter gave the unvarnished truth to all of the people who had gathered; he didn’t sugar coat it! Here are some of his main points:
1. We did not do this! Miracles are “heady stuff.” It is too easy to take credit whenever God uses us in any way, and that is dangerous (see Acts 14:8-18). Hero worship is a problem in the culture and in the Church. Accolades belong to God. The flesh thrives on approval, but taking the glory is dangerous. When self-esteem overrides our esteem for God, we have a serious problem.
The sports stars who credit the team and the coach are being wise. The star who keeps the glory for themselves is being foolish. So it is with all of us, especially if God has done something through us.
2. Peter reminded them of their sin. He said in affect, “You killed Jesus, but God raised Him from the dead.” That is the essence of the Gospel; Christ crucified and risen from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the preeminent miracle of history!
The truth is that we all killed Jesus. It was all of our sins that nailed Him to the Cross (see Isaiah 53, Romans 3:19-26; Romans 6:23). “Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (see John 1:29). It was critical that the people understood what they had done. And it is critical that we understand what we have done! If we do not realize our sin and its penalty, we cannot realize from what we are saved. Real repentance is based upon seeing the cost of our sin and the grief it brings to our God. To fail to deal with sin is to minimize our great salvation! And it communicates “cheap grace.”
3. Peter goes on to tell how the miracle happened. That miracle happened by faith in the Name of Jesus. Peter and John knew the power of Jesus’ name. Jesus commissioned His disciples to do works in His name (see Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:18-19). All authority is in Him. Why do we not see more miracles when we invoke His name? A lack of faith? Yes. But in addition, we have failed to sanctify His name and used it much too casually. The name of Jesus represents all power and is more than the closing phrase to our prayers. The apostles’ authority rested upon their comprehension of the power of His name, and they demonstrated that power.
4. Peter told them the basis of God’s forgiveness: They had done what they did to Jesus in ignorance. Jesus forgave them from the Cross when He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (see Luke 23:34). They did not know Who He was or what He was doing. Malice and deliberate sin are a different than sins committed in ignorance (see Hebrews 10:26). When Peter made them aware, they were deeply grieved.
An important part of Gospel ministry is making people aware of sin. We don’t make people guilty; they are already. We tell them how to have guilt removed. That makes salvation a glorious gift! We tell people how to escape the death that sin brings—whether they know it or not. By the way, it is not awareness of the sins of others, but our own. Awareness of our own sins brings humility which is necessary to salvation.
5. “Repent therefore.” The apostle Paul defines repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted.” Sorrow before salvation, tears before joy! Godly sorrow is God’s own grief over our transgressions. That sorrow is a gift just as forgiveness is a gift. When we ask someone to forgive us, we say, “I am sorry, please forgive me,” and that is the basis of their forgiveness. So it is with God.
I think that there is too much “cheap grace.” Cheap grace is when salvation and blessings are promised without repentance. No great revival ever came that way, and we desperately need revival (see 2 Chronicles 7:14-15)!
God gives us a marvelous promise: When we repent and trust Jesus, He will blot out all our sins. It will be as though they never were (see 1 John 1:9).
6. Times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord. When we repent and trust Jesus, His presence comes to refresh us! The presence of God refreshes, energizes like rain does for soil and seed (see Psalm 16:8-11; Psalm 23:3, Proverbs 3:7-8; Romans 15:13; Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:25-29; James 5: 7-8).
I believe that there will be a great “refreshing” prior to the Lord’s visible return. We are personally refreshed when we turn to Christ, but when He returns, Peter seems to indicate that a refreshing will precede His return. So we say with John, “Even so come quickly Lord Jesus” (see Revelation 22:20)!
7. The Restoration. There is much to be said about Acts 3:20-21. I believe that there is personal refreshing and restoration when we repent and trust Jesus, The Anointed One. However, that is only a type or beginning of what the return of Jesus brings. Peter is speaking about a world-wide refreshing and restoration; a fulfillment of all the prophets have said.
Jesus’ return will bring judgment, refreshing, and restoration. He fulfilled the Scriptures in regard to His first coming. He will fulfill all in His second coming. His first coming resulted in His death, resurrection, and Pentecost – “The Early Rain.” But prior to His Second Coming, will be the Latter Rain to ripen the Harvest. This second “rain” will be world-wide! His return will bring the harvest of all that He has planted, and the “weeds” will be burned up.
We must be alert to unexpected opportunities to minister and expect God to do His powerful work in unexpected places and ways. When He does, we must know how to present the good news. It is vital that we understand the apostolic Gospel of repentance and faith in the glorious name of Jesus. Our mission statement for CSM is “Embracing the Truth with Our Lives.” We are committed to declaring the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom, in words and in demonstration of His power. When you stand with us in your prayer and in your giving, you are taking part in this worldwide mission. Would you consider a special gift this month to support our work among the nations? Visit us online at csmpublishing.org.
Also, be sure to mark your calendar for our 2022 CSM Gatlinburg Conference, happening May 10-12 next year. We are looking forward to gathering together, encouraging each other, and being refreshed together in the Holy Spirit!
May we see the opportunities in everyday life, obey the Holy Spirit, and see the power of God. I pray that we can break out into our world that so desperately needs to see what God and God alone can do!
Brother Charles Simpson
Scripture references: Acts 3:1-26; Acts 14:8-18; Isaiah 53; Romans 3:19-26; Romans 6:23; John 1:29; Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:18-19; Luke 23:34; Hebrews 10:26; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; 2 Chronicles 7:14-15;1 John 1:9; Psalm 16:8-11; Psalm 23:3; Proverbs 3:7-8; Romans 15:13; Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:25-29; James 5:7-8; Revelation 22:20;Acts 3:20-21
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.