Before we look closely at this scripture, listen to the first verse then I have an open question…. READ Acts 5:12 (explain Solomon’s Colonnade or “porch” ~ the church is so young it is still a branch of Judaism…) It says “All the believers used to meet together”… I invite you to respond, (we’ll visit same questions at end to see if any additions)….
What motivated the people to meet together? Expectations? Purpose? Or if you don’t like that question, what is our purpose of meeting as a Church? Motivation, expectations? As we gear up to gather again, this is an important question ~ I don’t want to gather just because that’s what we do… what are reasons/expectations…. [List answers on sheet of paper]
Today’s scripture, for the 3rd or 4th time is a pause/summary of the young church. Clearly Luke cares about the gathered church. That’s why it is worthwhile to ask, what motives them/us to gather together, expectations, purpose… The community of God’s people is huge in Acts! Let’s pray that as we soon gather together again, it will be for the right reasons… expectations… motivations… if anyone out there listening has given up on the organized church (so common), guess what, as we come together again in a month, two months, three months, this is your opportunity to help shape the gathered community….
Let’s dive into Acts 5:12-16. The first half of Acts 5:12 talks about miracles in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever seen READ. Miracles are a huge part of the new church. I’m not looking to duplicate the early church, I’m searching Acts for enduring principles/ goals. I learned an important lesson from one of my professors in seminary, Dr. Schaper. The class was Pastoral Theology, a nuts and bolts of some of the responsibilities of being a pastor… the topic in the class was prayer, praying for the sick, praying for miracles. Dr. Schaper was an old time proper Episcopalian… This was in the 80’s, I can’t explain it, but at that time, it seemed were a lot of testimonies of people having a leg lengthened…. Dr. Schaper’s wisdom has guided me for 35 years, “I’ve never seen a leg lengthened, I’ve never seen a dramatic obvious healing or miracle, but the Bible says to pray for a miracle. So I do.”
Acts 5:12 seems to be saying dramatic miracles were quite common. I am not sure I’ve ever seen that… but I believe it. I believe God can do anything. But I also don’t feel at all inferior. All I know is that we are who we are, my low key personality, like everyone’s personality, is a blessing or a curse depending on what you want from me, I can only change as I’m willing and whatever God wants. I’ve seen miracles, though. I may not understand exactly the seemingly common place miracles as described in this verse, but honestly, I also refuse to be jealous or think that somehow we are inferior in our experiences of what we see of God. When God is present, there is no such thing as ordinary. God is always amazing, always a wonder to behold… I’ve seen people who we thought might die ended up living, I’ve seen relationships restored, I’ve seen amazing coincidences that could only be God, but the way it talks about miracles so casually seems different than what I see… but the Bible says to pray for a miracle, so as long as there is breath I pray with my whole heart for miracles. And anything we are blessed to witness/be a part of, is GRACE.
“Signs and wonders” is the phrase, by calling it wonders that means incredibly amazing, and by calling them signs that enlarges the purpose of a miracle in that ultimately God is glorified, Every miracle is a sign of something greater. May our eyes be open to be amazed by God and his miraculous power, His quiet miracles, His dramatic miracles, His amazing presence, His gift of salvation, His restoration and healing…
Acts 5:13-14 seems contradictory. READ. I think it important these verses follow on the heals of A & S… the story of A & S shows that following Christ is serious. He wants our hearts… A healthy church welcomes people who aren’t sure, those that are searching, allows questions… I read on FB this past week from multiple people a great essay, “Go to Church anyway” by Mark Sharp:
If you're having sex before marriage, go to church anyway.
If you are a drug addict trying to beat addiction, go to church anyway.
If you were out drunk all night the night before, go to church anyway.
If you aren't sure what gender you prefer, go to church anyway.
If you can't quit that disgusting habit, go to church anyway.
Church is a hospital for the broken, lost, empty, confused, desperate, and rejected. Every sinner has a future, and every Saint has a past. How do we break the chains of addiction and bondage? By prayer, prayer for you and prayer with you! There isn't a single person in the 4 walls of the church that doesn't have something they hate or regret about their past. We've all made mistakes, and will continue to, BUT His Grace is enough! There's things that I'd never want to admit out loud about myself, but God knows. And He loves me none the less.
So whatever you've done, whatever you're doing, whatever you will do....go to church anyway, it might just change your life!
I’m not sure exactly who Acts 5:13 is referring, but surely it includes conflicted people, I think the “go to church anyway” fit… Zillions of people that don’t fully share the Christian faith have respect for authentic Christians. We are here for those who are struggling. Maybe you who are listening fit this description, I say to you, GO TO CHURCH ANYWAY. An honest conflicted person is better than a person like Ananias who is pretending to be pure but isn’t… 13 sure sounds like people who want to be there but are conflicted…
The Church is also for those that are ready to make the life transforming commitment to Christ as it says in Acts 5:14 READ. In our restless times, may we see a revival as described by this verse ~ NEVERTHELESS… i.e. in spite of, against all odds… I love the little detail that Luke includes “men AND WOMEN” as full fledged people of faith in their own right….
Acts 5:15-16 again, I don’t know how to explain/understand every detail. READ. I am not sure exactly what Peter’s shadow is about. Some say it had no effect and it just shows the respect, others think it’s a figure of speech… What it does show is the momentum of the movement in this early day, the excitement of new believers, the hunger for the things of God, the desire for wholeness, the spreading of the gospel as ordinary people from neighboring towns and communities around Jerusalem hear about what is happening, the belief that God is amazing and does amazing things.
I’ve never seen anything like what is decribed, “all of them were healed” it ends, but the Bible says it so I believe it. And what God did once he can do again. Acts 5:15-16 is the Amen of the young Christian movement, “as a result” it begins, as the young church gathers even greater signs and wonders unfold. This is the AMEN, so be it.
As a Christian community let’s act out of expectation and faith rather than fear and uncertainty. Let’s look forward to greater things promised by God. Let’s believe that with God anything is possible. Let’s broaden our appeal so that more and more people know they are welcome into the family of faith.
Dr. Schaper said, “I’ve never seen [amazing dramatic miracles] but the Bible says to pray, so I pray.” Amen to that. I read these verses in Acts 5:12-16 and I can’t say I’ve seen such great enthusiasm, the excitement, the broad dramatic healings, but I believe anyway. //////But wait a minute, maybe I have seen that which is just as exciting as these verses….
I have seen the love of a community of faith, acceptance of people that are quite different from one another, transforming forgiveness and restored lives. I have seen miracles and changed lives. I have seen people overcome bad decisions, tragedies, and brokenness. While I may not have seen dramatic instant healings, I take no back seat to any church, to anybody, anytime anywhere. The Lord has been good to me allowing me to have a front row seat to seeing the lost loved, the hungering satisfied, the discouraged filled with hope. I daily experience the Lord’s love as a sinner that deserves nothing. When you follow the Lord, there is no such thing as ordinary, no such things as second rate experiences, no lack of his grace and abundance.
We’re fools if we read verses like these in Acts 5:12-16 and get jealous ~~ any morsel of love from the Lord is more than we deserve and greater than anything else needed, But we are also fools if we don’t pray for an even greater outpouring of God’s love and grace, a greater outpouring of his wondrous miracles so that a hurting world cannot miss the signs pointing to the fullness of God.
The early Christians met together, there was something that spontaneously drew them to one another. My prayer as we emerge from the restrictions of Covid19 that we will see the same desire of people gathering, creative community experiences, God honoring gatherings, incredible faith even in the face of obstacles, people joining the church that feel conflicted. There is no such thing as ordinary gatherings because when God is present it is exciting, when believers and seekers gather it is a joy. I’m not looking to duplicate the details of these verses, but I know we can have the same excitement and satisfaction of being God’s people. May we pray for the Spirit of God to descend upon us and bind us together through his love, acceptance and forgiveness.