Sunday, December 18, 2011

From Acts to Revelation Part 8 - Signs of the Apostles

From Acts to Revelation
Part 8 – Signs of the Apostles
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

What we have learned so far in the book of Acts is, the Lord ascended leaving instruction to the Disciples to go into Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, which would come when Jesus sat at His right hand.

They obeyed and received he Holy Spirit, and immediately went into the streets and preached the Gospel to all of the God-Fearing Jews from around the world who had gathered to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem.

The Peter stood and gave the first sermon of the newly formed Church. Over 3,000 had heard the message and believed, and accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah which had been promised to them in scripture.

Today we will discover the difference between the Apostles and Disciples, and why so many end up having doubt in God's miraculous powers, simply because they don't understand the purpose and difference between the Apostles and Disciples.

Acts 3:1-11
 1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
 11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.
1.      Peter and John went to pray at the Temple at 3pm (the ninth hour)

2.      A man, lame from his mothers womb was at the gate
1.      Brought daily to the gate to beg
2.      Appears to have taken place for a long time, because later in the verse we read that all the people knew him.
3.      Little did he know, today would be the greatest day of his life.

3.      He asked alms of Peter and John
1.      Tithe is what we owe to the Lord as the first fruits of what we have.
2.      Gifts or Love Offerings are what we give to others at the Holy Spirits prompting.
3.      Alms are what is given from our hearts to those in need

4.      Peter answered the mans request in this manner;
1.      “Look on us...” or Listen carefully.
2.      vs.5 tells us that the lame-man expected Peter and john yo give him money.
3.      vs.6 says that Peter tells him, “Silver and gold I have none...”
1.      Opposite of what some preach, that Jesus and the Apostles were millionaires.

4.      “But what I have (The Holy Spirit), I give to you.”
1.      The modern church has lots of silver and gold...but how many have the Holy Spirit, and give it freely?

2.      Are the gifts God has given you through His Holy Spirit buried in the ground like the wicked servant with his masters talents, or are you using them as God intended to see them profit others, bringing glory to the Master?

3.      The power of God is greater than any earthly riches.

5.      Peter says; “In the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk!”
1.      The ONLY name which saves and heals.

2.      Peter and John took the man and stood him up, and IMMEDIATELY his bones and ankles were strengthened.

3.      This is a miracle to show the Jews that these Apostles, and the words they spoke represent the one true God.

4.      The man leaped and stood up, and walked into the Temple with peter and John so all could see.

5.      The entire time praising God!

6.      All who saw him in the Temple knew who he was, and they were filled with wonder and amazement.
1.      All the people came to see.

2.      This was God's way of grabbing all of the Jews attention, so that the fulfillment of the Word of God could be taught to those IN THE TEMPLE.

3.      This was a sign to Israel that the Messiah, the savior that they had learned about in scripture, and waited generations for had come, and was here, and God's plan of salvation was in motion.

So why is it we, who are also filled with the Holy Spirit, can't just walk up to a lame-man and make him walk again?

Now before you form an opinion, listen to what the scriptures say about the matter, and you can save yourself a lot of undo stress.  I am not stating that the Holy Spirit does not still do miracles, I am stating that we do not have the “same” signs and wonders that the Apostles did, because we are not serving the same purpose the Apostles served.

Remember, the scriptures tell us that to “be” an Apostle, you had to have been with Jesus from the time He was baptized, until the time of His ascension.  And they only chose one Apostle to replace Judas...NO ONE today can qualify to be an Apostle.

Apostles were to establish God's NEW covenant, which can only be done through proving they were sent by God to represent God, and as it was with the Prophets of old, signs and wonders and miracles were used, just as they were to establish the Old Covenant with man.

Disciples are those of us who have been saved through the grace of God and Jesus Christ, to serve Him. The purpose of the gifts and fruits we receive through the Holy Spirit are to grow and strengthen the church.

So Apostles were like the Prophets, establishing God's covenants, and proving they were sent by God to do so by signs, wonders and miracles.

Disciples, through the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, are to strengthen the church and build it up through our service to the Lord.

1.      Many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles
1.      NOTE: Done by the Apostles. It does not say Disciples...

2.      These signs and wonders were to establish the fact that these men represented God, and their teaching and instruction was to be considered doctrine, and the basis and foundation of the church.

2.       Why can’t all believers do signs and wonders today just like the apostles did in the early church?
1.      First of all we are NOT to listen to those who claim that miracles no longer take place. What we need to hear is the word of God, the apostles teaching on this and what took place in the early church history. One of the reasons to study the Book of Acts!

2.      Any Scripture we may find has to agree with the actual events, otherwise it must mean something other than what you may think it means. (Collapsing contexts)

3.      We are to believe it as it is written to be in the truth. What the apostles did is seen in the book of Acts as recorded history and doctrine. What the apostles taught the church is in the epistles.

4.      Believers are not given the supernatural ability like the apostles to do miracles at the drop of a hat. Otherwise they would not have had to call Peter to raise Tabitha from the dead- they would have done it themselves.
1.      Acts 9:36-10:1At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.”

2.      The Disciples could not raise Tabitha, but an Apostle did.

5.      Acts 8:5-7Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.”
1.      He was able to deliver people from demons and heal the sick.

6.      Acts 2:43 “…and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles

7.      Acts 5:12And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people.

8.      Acts 14:3therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.”
1.      If all the church could do miracles like the Apostles and this was normal, then this would be meaningless, and not a miracle, for Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:13Truly the signs of an Apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”

2.      These signs, wonders and miracles HAD to be done by the Apostles alone, so that their teachings, which came directly from Jesus Christ, would be the teachings of Truth alone!  If any follower could do the same signs, wonders and miracles at the drop of a hat, then it would appear as he had authority by God to establish covenants...and anything he said or did would be at the same level as the Apostles teaching.
1.      This would be very dangerous to man, and the word, and establishing it's Truth.
2.      Think of how many “holy” men have fallen.
3.      Jesus Himself taught the Apostles, therefore, what they taught was directly from God Himself. No other teaching will ever compare, or hold up to the Apostles and Prophets.

3.      Throughout the book of Acts (actually called the Acts of the Apostles) we see the apostles doing the signs and wonders and miracles.

9.      These signs, wonders and miracles were used by the Prophets in the Old Testament to establish they were sent by God, they were used by the Apostles to establish they were sent by God, and they will be used once again in the end-times during Tribulation, when the two prophets of God will come and give testimony, and the signs, wonders and miracles will establish that they too, were sent by God for a specific purpose!

10. I believe in God’s power and we can pray and He can still do mighty things, heal and do miracles. He can do beyond all that we ask (Ephesians 3:20) but to promise an absolute recovery by supernatural healing, or resurrection of dead people is not faith but presumption, God does not have to obey what you ask or command, instead we are to obey him.

11. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be used, and healing is one of those gifts...BUT, we are told NOT all followers have the same gifts!

12. The Apostles served a different purpose than us Disciples.
1.      Even Paul's shadow could heal!

We see that the Apostles were now beginning to go into all of Jerusalem, and show the Jews signs, wonders and miracles to establish the fact that the Apostles were sent by God, to give the NEW COVENANT to the people, just as the Prophets in the old days established themselves with signs, wonders and miracles to give the Old Covenant of God to the people.

We also see that although we, the Disciples, have gifts and fruits which come from the Holy Spirit, we do not have the same abilities the Apostles did, because we do not serve the same purpose they do.

And when the two prophets come during Tribulation, they will have signs, wonders and miracles to establish that they too are from God with a specific message and purpose.