Empowered by the Spirit

In Acts, Chapter 3, we find Peter and John going to the temple to pray. As they arrive at the temple they are met by a man who has been paraplegic since he was born. This man was carried to the temple each day to beg for alms – his only known source of income. As Peter and John approached, this man asked them to help him with the financial assistance he urgently needed. Peter’s response was simple and direct. “Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6) Peter helped him up and immediately he could walk and even leap for joy.

In this encounter there is an encouraging lesson for those who are struggling – for those who are paralyzed by some physical issue as well as those who have been immobilized by stress, fear, anxiety, and the often overwhelming cares of everyday living. The lesson is that there is hope, there is healing, and there is unfathomable help in the Name of Jesus. And moreover there is salvation in that same Name – the Name above every name – the Name of Jesus.

However, in this encounter there is also a sobering lesson for the church. We, as Christians, have available to us the same power that allowed that man to walk. As a church we have the same Spirit of God Who empowered Peter and John. God hasn’t changed since the 1st Century AD. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8) So who has changed?

In showing St. Thomas Aquinas the room in which the money of the church was being counted, Pope Innocent IV proudly said, “The church is no longer in an age when she can say, ‘silver and gold have we none.’” Thomas replied, “It is true, holy father, nor can the church now say to the lame man, ‘Rise up and walk!’” In class Sunday morning, I misattributed the statement to St. Augustine when it was actually St. Thomas Aquinas. Nevertheless, the point remains the same and it raises the following question – “Is the church operating in the power of the Holy Spirit or is the church relying on it’s own power, resources, and programming to accomplish God’s work?”

(Note – The video quality is less than optimum as is the audio quality. It will be back to high definition next week.)

Next week we will be in 1 Peter 1&2 where we will look at how to live as Christians in world that is at times hostile to our Faith.

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, March 27, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

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In the PDF below you will find the presentation slides for this lesson.

Get Up! Get Your Stuff and Go!

It doesn’t matter what ails you. It doesn’t matter what obstacles stand in your way. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been for help, what solutions you’ve tried, or how many years you’ve been dealing with the problem – Jesus can help. In our study of the 5th Chapter of John we saw Jesus heal a man who had been a paraplegic for 38 years. Only Jesus could speak hope into such a situation as this. Only Jesus could bring physical healing to this man. And only Jesus could save him from a fate worse than his physical state because only Jesus could save him from eternal death.  That same saving power is ours through the blood of Jesus Christ.  It reminds me of the song, “In Christ Alone” by by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Here is the link to our Agape Life Bible Study class session from the 5th chapter of John in which Jesus heals a man at the Pool of Bethesda.