This morning, I realise we don't have the time, necessarily, that we have had in the evenings - but I want to share something simple with you, and then I want to give an opportunity for folk to receive prayer for healing. So I want you to turn with me to Acts chapter 3 for our reading, Acts 3. I hope you know that the Acts of the Apostles is not merely a historic book - and sometimes that is said a lot. But Acts is no more an historic book than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are history, and they are reliable history. Luke, of course, is the author of Acts and the Gospel - and, of course, it's really one book. But it's more than mere history, it is what we might call 'theological narrative', which simply is a story that is factual, but the author is teaching something.
We see that in the Gospels and each author of the Gospels has a particular spin that they put on the same historical events that took place in the life and ministry of Jesus, but they might have a particular aspect that they want to highlight. The Acts of the Apostles is just like one of the Gospels, in the sense of the genre which it is: it is teaching us something about the early church. But it's not just telling us how things where, it is actually teaching us how things ought to be. Have you got that? I have written at the end of the Acts of the Apostles in the last chapter of my Bible: 'To be continued' - that is the way it's meant to be.
So, in that respect, we look at chapter 3 after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost there's speaking in tongues, there's prophecy, and the fulfilment of Joel 2, where Peter comes and speaks to what is going on, and explains it by saying, 'This is that which was spoken by Joel'. But in chapter 3, we see the healing beginning. I want us to look at this healing. As I say, we'll not go into too much detail, but I want to highlight a few things that I believe will be helpful as we consider this man, who was lame from birth, sitting at the beautiful gate begging for alms, for charity, and he gets healed by the power of the Lord Jesus, in the name of the Lord Jesus.
So let's look at verse 1, and I will be stopping as we go through here to comment: " Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour" - that's 3pm in the afternoon - "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 from those who entered the temple". Now just a couple of points. Peter and John were not so caught up with the large crowds that they hadn't time for the individual. That's important for us: always to have our eyes focused towards individual people. Now God's interested in crowds. I mean, how many thousands were born again on the day of Pentecost? And the number is given to us because God's interested in numbers - because big numbers are made up of individuals. But He sees each person in their own right. But equally, Peter and John were not so occupied with ministry, that they hadn't time to pray. They're going to the house of the Lord at the hour of prayer, and there's this man at the Beautiful gate - laid there daily. He was lame from his mother's womb. Now we don't know when they started leaving them there for alms, but that's how long time. That's a long time. I just wonder whether this guy had given up hope? If you have been lame from your mother's women - and maybe, let's say he's in his 20s, 30s or mid-age, I don't know - we don't know how long he's been sitting there, but he's now begging alms to get by, to eke out a living. It's the best he could expect. A lot of people are like that.
He's in the house of God, or at least in the vicinity of it, and yet this is all that he's expecting: charity. It's all that he feels he could hope for. And could I add to that - now I can't prove this, but I suspect that if this man was there that day, he'd been there other days, and Peter and John had passed by him those other days. I also suspect that it may be the case that this man was there at the time of the Lord Jesus. So maybe he just thought, 'Well, this isn't for me, this healing isn't for me. Other people get it, but not me. Other people's prayers get answered, not me. Other people seem to be more special, but I get overlooked'. Maybe there's someone here this morning, and that's the way you have felt about healing, about problems in your life that you're looking and needing God to break through, but maybe you've actually got to the point of resignation and giving up.
Now, I have to say to you that there is mystery in the subject of healing. I believe God wants everybody healed, and His purpose is displayed through the resurrection of Jesus, and in the fact that one day we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, and those who are in Christ will be raised incorruptible in resurrection bodies. So we know God's purpose is that we all get healed one day, and we know that's because of what happened at Calvary: by His stripes we were healed. But not everybody that gets prayed for to be healed does get healed. We have to say that, yes? Whilst there are certain deposits of what will come one day in the kingdom of God now, not everybody gets healed.
John chapter 5, leaving this man for a moment, in John chapter 5 there's another man, also lame, sitting at the pool of Bethesda. The pool of Bethesda was understood to be a kind of supernatural. miraculous place, where an angel would come down. Some people think it's just legend, other people believe that this actually happened - that an angel came down and rippled the waters, and if you were the first to get in after that moment, you would get healed. There's a man lying there 38 years, and Jesus comes to him and asks what we might consider a daft question: 'Do you want to be healed?'. 'What do You think? Why do You think I'm here? Do You know how long I've been here? 38 years!'. But, you see, the Lord Jesus doesn't ask daft questions, there is insight in what He's asking: this man had given in to resignation, he'd given up
It was all that he was used to, being there, so why not be there another day? Then, of course, he said that 'l have nobody to help me into the water'. There are people like that, they feel they have no one to help them. But I want you to understand: that vicinity was littered with disabled, diseased and sick folk - but on that day Jesus went, as far as we know, to that one man, healed him, and didn't heal anybody else.
Actually, in the same chapter, Jesus speaks to the disciples later on, and He says 'I only do what I see the Father do'. Now, let me add to that, that everybody that ever came to Jesus in the gospels for healing got healed. He never turned anybody away and said, 'It's not your moment', or 'You need to learn a wee bit more through suffering’. He never said that to any of them. Yet, with all that - we know the heart of God is to heal - there is mystery.
Here's a man - going back to the Beautiful gate - who had been bypassed. But this was his day. Let's take up the reading again. Verse 3, "who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said". Now, something is happening here in the spiritual. If we surmise that they were familiar with this man setting there, which is more than likely, this day, they fix their eyes on him. Something happened in the spiritual realm where God imparted faith to Peter and John to know that this man was going to be healed.
By the way, all the gifts of the Spirit operate with faith. These are God's gifts. God gives them and God imparts the faith to use them. And so they realize it's this man's day. He doesn't know it yet. And John and Peter said, verse 4 at the end, 'Look at us'. Look at us. If we were to say to the world today: 'Look at us'. What would they see? Would they see faith? Or would they see unbelief? Would they see love? Or would they see hatred? If I could put a different intonation on that statement, we would have to say: 'Look at us! Look at the state of us!'. But the Apostolic Church was able to say, 'Look at us. There's something in us. There's something on us. In fact, God is with us. Jesus is risen, His Spirit has come, and we have authority, we have power to make a difference in your life'. I look forward to the day in Ireland, when the church again can say: 'Look at us'.
Yet, when you go down, and I know we're skipping out here, we'll see this in a moment. Verse 12, after the guy gets healed, Peter, the response: is everybody gathers together in Solomon's porch and is greatly amazed at what has happened. Verse 12, "when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: 'Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?'". Now, Peter, make your mind up - it's either 'Look at us', or 'Don't look at us', it can't be both! Well, actually, it is both. Because Peter recognizes the fact that God was in them and on them. But it was not them, their power, or their ability that made the difference. It's like whenever Peter was walking about and his shadow starts healing people. It wasn't because there was anything special about Peter, per se, but it was, Who overshadowed Peter - that shadow was cast and healed the sick.
Come back up then to verse 5: "So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them" - in other words, money - "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk'". It was Thomas Aquinas, who went to visit the Pope on one occasion - you may have heard this story. The Pope was counting all his riches and treasures and money. The Pope said to Thomas Aquinas: 'No longer can the church say, 'Silver and gold have I none'', and Aquinas replied, 'And no longer can the church say 'Rise up and walk''. This power is the power that was in the early church, and it's the power that's meant to be in the church today - because the name of Jesus is the same.
Verse 7: "He took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength". Now this is interesting to me, because the man needed a hand up. A bit like the man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5, he said he had no one to help them into the pool, we don't know whether it was an excuse or not. But we do know of another lame man - it's interesting that they're all lame men - who had four friends, who helped him through probably Peter's roof, down to the feet of Jesus, and the power of God was present there to heal that day. But it's interesting that Jesus saw the faith of the four friends and told the man: 'Your sins are forgiven you, take up your bed and walk'. It was the friend's faith.
I haven't got time to go into this, but sometimes it's not the faith of the person that comes for healing that God sees, but the faith of the person praying for the friends. It's just faith He's looking for, it doesn't matter who's faith - He can use any faith, mustard seed faith, as long as there's faith. But also - and I have started to practice this when I'm inviting people to receive prayer for healing - a great act of faith is to do something that you couldn't do. Now, I'm not talking about endangering yourself. I'm certainly not talking about quitting medication or anything like that, that would be foolish. I'm talking about: if you have a sore ankle, you get up and you test it. It was when they took the man by the hand and lifted him up, it was in that moment, because faith without works is dead - at that moment it says that immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. I'm going to challenge you a little bit later on to do something, or to try it out. Try something that was sore, or you couldn't do before.
This is what I want you to note in verse 8: "So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them - walking, leaping, and praising God". Now I said it the other evening, I think, that healing can be a process. There's a distinction in the gifts of the Spirit, between miracles and healings, you know that? There's the gifts of miracles, and then there's the gifts of healings. I think the difference is that a miracle can be a healing, but it is an instantaneous healing. A miracle is a demonstration of power. So if we see an instantaneous healing here today, you're going to witness a miracle. That's marvellous, isn't it?
This was a miracle. He went walking and leaping and praising God, and then in verse 9: "All the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him". I want you to notice something, the difference between verse 8 and verse 9. It says that he went walking, leaping and praising God, but it says the people saw him walking and praising God. Do you notice that? He went walking and leaping and praising God, but the people saw him walking and praising God. What's missing in what they saw? The leaping. Now I want to suggest to you that the walking was the physical realm. The man couldn't walk from birth. Now he's walking. The praising God was the spiritual. He recognized that it was divine power that had transformed his condition, and he probably came spiritually alive to God in a measure. What was the leaping? The soul, the emotion, the heart - but the other people didn't see that.
I want to suggest to you, that the church generally doesn't see it either. Most of the church emphasizes the spiritual dimension, that we need to be right with God, that we've a heart and a soul that needs to be saved for eternity - we need to connect with God to know Him as our Father and Jesus as our Saviour. Yes? We believe that. Then there's a smaller group - in our land it is, but worldwide it's the majority - that are Pentecostal charismatic, and they believe in the power to heal, and that God can physically heal. So they see the walking; but even that group at times overlooks the reality of the broken soul, and that sometimes the physical healing does not come because the physical condition of illness or disease or disability - not always now, I'm not saying always, but sometimes is a manifestation of a deeper problem in the heart.
There are a number of verses I shared with you the other evening from Proverbs. Let me just remind you of them. Proverbs 15 verse 13: 'A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken'. Proverbs 17:22: 'A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones'. Proverbs 18, verse 14: 'The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness' - but not all sickness is spiritual, we live in a fallen world. But if you are sick and your spirit is well, well, that's a good way to get through sickness. It'll stand you in good stead. An oncologist will tell you that your attitude has a lot to do with how you will face cancer and recover. 'But who can bear a broken spirit?'. Who can bear a broken spirit? It could be that you're here this morning, and you come regularly for prayer for physical conditions - and the Lord can and does heal those - but there's something wrong, deeper that needs healing. You're not leaping. You're not leaping.
Let me show you someone I think this applies to, if you go with me to Luke chapter 13 and verse 10. Again, I'll comment as we run down these verses: 'Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up'. So, 18 years, very specific. Again, the problem is diagnosed specifically: she has a spirit of infirmity. Now, she is not well - and, guess what, spirits of infirmity make people not well, but it's not a physiological, or a biological, or a chemical issue primarily. It may affect those aspects, but it's a spirit behind this condition. She's bent over and can't raise herself. Whether it's a back condition, or some kind of other thing, muscular or whatever. 'When Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, 'Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity''.
It's an interesting word He uses, 'loosed' from your infirmity. We're going to see that word - if you mark your Bible, mark that word 'loose' or 'loosed' throughout these verses. 'And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, 'There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day''. That's religion for you, isn't it? God does a miracle in their midst, and they want to debate about holy days. 'The Lord then answered him and said, 'Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it?''. Now, Jesus is not just retorting with an argument. He's using this argument as an illustration of what happened to the woman. 'So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound - think of it - for eighteen years, be loosed'' - there’s the word - ''from this bond on the Sabbath?''.
So the language of 'loosing' and 'bond' has got to do with 'bondage'. Satan has bound this woman, Satan has bound this woman for 18 years. Can I just emphasize to you: she's in the synagogue, she's on the Sabbath there, and Jesus calls her, 'A daughter of Abraham'. Now, I don't think that just mean she's Jewish, I think it means that she's a God-fearer. He's the Father of faith, she has faith in God. We would say she's a child of God - not a New Testament believer in the sense that we understand, post-Calvary, and the resurrection, and Pentecost. No one was, but all the disciples had faith in God - and I don't think this woman was any different, yet she was afflicted by this spirit of infirmity, and Jesus paints a picture.
He says: 'Just as you, this morning, on the Sabbath day, loosed your ox or loosed your donkey from the stall, I have reached into this woman's life and loosed her from a bondage that bound her 18 years ago'. You say, 'How do you know that?'. Well, sure, she had it for 18 years, so something happened 18 years ago that bound this woman and Satan bound her. It could have been a hurt, it could have been a rejection, it could have been any of the things we've mentioned these nights, it could have been fear - but the point is this: the enemy saw it as an opportunity to come in and bind this woman with a physical affliction through a spirit of infirmity.
I don't know if it's a word of knowledge. Last time I mentioned this story, I happened to say - and I really didn't know - 'Maybe there's someone here, and something happened you 18 years ago?'. There were two people, two people, specifically 18 years ago something had taken place that had affected them to this very day. That could be the case for you, but no matter how many years ago it is, many of us have things in our past that have tied us, and we are tied to them.
Let me tell you two stories, and then I'm finished. One, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a Harley Street specialist before he became - a physician that is - before he became the Minister of Westminster Chapel Church in London. But before that, in between, there was a ministry in the Welsh valleys. So he's a medical man, but he's also attuned to the spiritual. He was asked to go and visit a man who was very poorly in the neighbourhood. He was a fine, upstanding gentleman and a Christian and he'd also been not just a school teacher, but a Sunday School teacher, and he did a lot of ministry among children. But he had been afflicted by what was described as a kind of nervous condition, he'd had sore stomachs, headaches, and he was terrified of going out of his home. He was basically paralyzed - not literally, but in his livelihood.
Lloyd-Jones was asked would he go and visit him. This was in 1930. He went to visit him and he asked him to tell him what happened: 'When did this begin?'. That's always a good question to ask: when did this start? You weren't always like this. If you weren't always like it, when did it begin? Look at what was going on around there. Ask questions, did anything happen?
He asked the man that question, and he said: 'Well, in 1915 this began'. He said, 'In 1914 I joined the Navy, and I was allocated to the Submarine Corps, and in 1915 we took part in the Gallipoli campaign'. He says: 'All I remember was being in the submarine, hitting a mine, and the submarine plummeted to the bottom of the ocean. Ever since that I've not been the same man'.
Lloyd-Jones said: ‘Well, tell me the rest of the story'. 'But that's it, that's it. I haven't been the same since then'. 'Tell me it again'. So he went over everything again: joined the Submarine Corps and Gallipoli, and mine, and bottom of the ocean.
Lloyd-Jones said again: ‘Well, tell me the rest'. He says, 'There isn't any more' - and he went over the story several times, and was getting exasperated with Lloyd-Jones, there's no more to tell. And then Lloyd-Jones said this to him: 'Do you mean that you're still at the bottom of the Mediterranean?'. He was. He was stuck. Lloyd-Jones prayed with the man and he was loosed, loosed of the tie that he had with that moment.
You might have a tie to an historic event, a traumatic event, and you haven't been able to move forward because of it. It's like you're caught in time, a time trap. In Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations', there's a character called Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham was the daughter of a very wealthy man, who on the morning of her wedding, received a message from her beloved, her future husband, that he wasn't coming. That was at 8:40am. At that moment, dressed in her wedding gown, she stopped every clock in the house at 8:40. In Dickens' novel she's now an old lady, and every clock in the house still reads 8:40am. She still is in her wedding gown, she never got out of it from that moment. It's now yellow, torn and worn. At 8:40am all those years ago, she had only one of her wedding shoes on, and she remained the rest of her life with only one shoe on. The tragedy of getting caught in a trauma that has bound you.
We've covered a lot in a short time. There's physical healing, there's spiritual healing, but there's the healing of the heart, the healing of the soul, the healing of the mind, the emotions and the behaviours. I don't know what healing you need here today. But in just a moment, I'm going to invite anyone who wants to come for healing prayer to come. Let me say this: you may have been affected by some of the things that I've already mentioned - and that, I don't believe is a coincidence. I want you to reach out in faith, believing to be healed.
Can I just tell you this: a couple of weeks ago, I was preaching on the subject of healing, not this message, but teaching on the gifts of the Spirit and the gifts of healings. I encouraged the congregation near the end - I had no voice almost, I was dosed with the cold, which is ironic at a healing meeting. I wasn't going to pray with people individually, because I didn't want to smit them with a cold - imagine coming to a healing meeting, and going away with something! That's not healing! So I felt the Lord wanted me to encourage the folk to pray for themselves. This was a church that's just moving into these areas, they wouldn't be as knowledgeable and experienced as you.
So I asked them to pray for their own healing, and I asked them to test it out there and then. They were a bit backward at coming forward, this group, so I asked them to respond if anything happened. There was nothing in the congregation - and the girl standing beside me at the keyboard started waving her arms. I turned her: 'Has something happened?'. She says 'Yes, yes, my feet. My feet have been healed'. She was standing there at the keyboard. It turns out she broke her ankle a year ago, and from that she has awful pain in that foot, and then pain in the other foot because she was compensating for the broken ankle. Her ankle always felt as if it was out of joint. She prayed there and then in desperation, because she takes painkillers every day and had to steep her feet every night - and to play the piano standing there, she was always in pain. In that moment, she said, the pain went, she felt her ankle click into place. She's healed, and she's healed to this day.
Now, that was a sovereign healing. I was near her, but I wasn't laying my hands on her, and I wasn't even praying for her. It was nothing to do with me. God sovereignly healed that girl. The beautiful thing about it was - for all these people, some of them are on the fence with regards to healing - she was right smack in the middle of the stage for everybody to see it. Even my son says: 'Daddy, I've never seen that before'. Not only that, she had a microphone. I was able to interview her there and then about what God had done. Now I'll tell you what that did, and I hope it's doing it for you right now: it created faith in the people to believe that this was possible.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Lisnadill Full Gospel Church in Armagh, N. Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "Healing" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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