The Living Christ in the Church Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Text: Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, (rise and) walk.”… “And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you” (Acts 3:6, 16).
Scripture Reading: Acts 3:1-18
Let’s begin our study by reading the first eighteen verses of Acts 3.
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o‘clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, (rise and) walk.” Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.
When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him. As he clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? The God of Abraham, (the God) of Isaac, and (the God) of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant
Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.
The embalmed remains of Lenin, who was one of the authors of communism, lies in a crystal casket in a tomb in Red Square in Moscow.
An inscription on the casket reads: “He was the greatest leader of all peoples, of all countries, of all times. He was the lord of the new humanity. He was the Savior of the world.”
All that Lenin did is in the past tense.
Communism, which was his creation, has vanished, except in a hand full of countries around the world.
Today if you asked, “Who was Lenin?” the likely response would be, “He was one of the Beatles.”
We have the true Savior of the world, He is the living Christ.
But how do we know that Jesus Christ is living in power among us?
For the first Church, which was in Jerusalem, the healing of the lame man signified the power of the living Christ and that He was present among them.
How about us?
Do we see lives being changed miraculously?
Are things happening among us that amaze us and fill us with wonder?
The book of Acts emphasizes the reality of the living Christ in the Church.
Let’s consider three lessons from Acts 3.
1. The lesson of crippled people and what can be done to help.
2. The lesson of divine authority and how we can have access to it.
3. The lesson of a living message and its relevance for our times.
Let’s begin with the lesson of crippled people and what can be done to help.
In our scripture, we read that Peter and John had an encounter with a lame man who had been crippled from birth.
Each day someone carried him to the temple and laid him by the gate called Beautiful.
He begged from the crowds of worshipers who passed this prominent place.
This is how he provided for his needs.
What a contrast!
On one hand there is a man who has been crippled all his life, and on the other hand, there is the beautiful gate to the temple.
And here at the gate is where the man’s healing took place.
The man saw Peter and John approaching the gate, so he begged them for money.
But why did he beg from Peter and John instead of others in the crowd?
Only God can answer that question.
But Peter’s words changed the man’s life: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, (rise and) walk” (Acts 3:6).
Peter took the man by the hand and helped him up.
The man was healed instantly.
He jumped to his feet and walked around the temple courts praising God.
This crippled man had been made whole.
That’s what happened two-thousand years ago, but the truth is that all of us are crippled, and all of us need healing.
The declaration of Romans 3:23 is that all of us have sinned.
The point of Isaiah 53:6 is that we have all gone astray, just like sheep.
And in Luke 13:3, Jesus said that we are dead spiritually.
In some ways, we are just like the lame man at the gate.
We are helpless and powerless and spiritually crippled without Christ.
What we need is not silver and gold; we need a Savior.
Our society is crippled too, with its crippled morals, crippled marriages, and crippled relationships.
And our society is crippled by perversion.
Abortion continues to claim innocent lives.
Pornography continues to destroy homes.
The sin of homosexuality is a way of life for millions.
People are crippled by alcohol and drug abuse.
People are crippled with negative attitudes, anger, hate, resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
Only Jesus Christ can bring us the healing we need.