Silver and God have I none
Silver and God have I none.
I hope you don’t feel insulted by having to sing a kid’s song [P] – but I asked if we could sing that song because that is the story I have been asked to speak on tonight. It is found in Acts chapter 3 and that is the passage assigned to me for tonight – you might like to turn there because I intend to stick closely to the text. You can check me out – because we want to be hearing what God is saying in His Word, not my ideas. So let us ask Him to speak to us. As I said it is a story – and I’m glad about that because I enjoy a story. But it is a true life story, it actually happened. And I am glad about that – it is real, true, real life. And God speaks in His Word for the most part through the lives of people, not abstract theology but people living ordinary lives like you and me – people with problems and troubles – just like us. And this story involves a man whose life was not easy. Let’s read: [Acts 3:1-26 One day Peter and John went to the Temple at three o’clock in the afternoon, the hour for prayer.] – nothing unusual in that, they were going to the temple, so were lots of others because it was the time set aside for prayer. [v.2 There at the Beautiful Gate, as it was called, was a man who had been lame all his life. Every day he was carried to the gate to beg for money from the people who were going into the Temple.] – there was a man who had a handicap. He couldn’t walk, he was lame and he had been like it ever since he was born. He couldn’t work, earn a living – there was no social security, dole or invalid’s benefit. There was only one course open to him – begging. He had some friends or family who would carry him into a public place to appeal for money from those who passed by. He’d been in this situation all his life and he had his prime spot – at the temple. There were people going up to worship God, they would be feeling pious, acting religious, so there was a good chance that they would put on a show of godliness and give to this poor unfortunate man. It is a humiliating and shameful occupation. No one loves a beggar. No one enjoys being dependent upon another. This man had been like it from his mother’s womb – all his life! He had a life–long impediment [P]. It was a burden he carried and there was no way out of it. There are people like that, people with physical handicaps, mental and emotional handicaps. Things that hinder their life and there is no way out of it. Maybe you do? Maybe it is not physical and obvious – I know I did. There were habits and behaviours in my life that I was ashamed of and wanted to be rid of – but there was no power within me to get rid of them. I’d try and try but always end up doing the same old thing. Perhaps you have experienced something similar? You long to be free but you are crippled – stuck in a position with no way out. That was where this man was at – without hope. [v.3 When he saw Peter and John going in, he begged them to give him something.] – That is what he did to those who were going into the temple. [v.4 They looked straight at him, and Peter said, “Look at us!”] – people don’t look at beggars, they don’t meet their eyes, they may give a coin or two but they don’t want to be involved. Nor does the beggar meet their eye, he is ashamed to beg. [v.5 So he looked at them, expecting to get something from them. But Peter said to him, “I have no money at all, but I give you what I have: in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I order you to get up and walk!” (“silver and gold have I none” – we all reckon money will solve everything – But there are times when you would give all the money in the world: Peter P. meeting Noel L. at Picton wharf – there are things where wealth isn’t the answer) v.7 Then he took him by his right hand and helped him up. At once the man’s feet and ankles became strong; he jumped up, stood on his feet, and started walking around. Then he went into the Temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.] Here he was expecting at best a few coins, but his life-long problem was dealt with once and for all! This was something he never could have expected, beyond his wildest dreams. And he was over the moon! He jumped and leaped, trying out his new found ability to walk. He praised God! He knew where this healing had come from! Only God could do it. It wasn’t a staid: “I thank and praise Thee gracious Father.” No! This was spontaneous, exuberant all out praise. Nothing could suppress or contain his joy and excitement – his overwhelming appreciation of what had been done for him. It was a miracle! [P] It was the hand of God! There was no denying it and he gave praise to whom it was due. He was liberated by a miracle! And only a miracle could solve his problem. A rich man might give him a generous gift but still he would be lame. Only God could deliver him from his situation. He needed a miracle. I said that you, like me, may too have a life-long impediment. You need a miracle! It is the only solution to the situation. We cannot do it – it has to be God. But you may say that was a story, it was hundreds of years ago. But God has not changed! He still does miracles today! When I was baptized, they prayed for me to be filled with the Holy Spirit; and there was an instantaneous miraculous change in my life. Behaviours that had a hold over me from earliest childhood were broken – I’d tried and couldn’t change; but now I was surprised that I no longer did them. I was pathologically introverted – suddenly I could face people. There was a miraculous change – it was God’s doing! There are still many things that need dealing with in my life – but I depend upon Him to do them, not my own will power. God still does miracles, and He can do one in your life. What a wonderful thing – he could now live a normal life. He could walk, he could run, he could leap – and he leapt for joy – and people noticed: [v.9 The people there saw him walking and praising God, and when they recognized him as the beggar who had sat at the Beautiful Gate, they were all surprised and amazed at what had happened to him. As the man held on to Peter and John in Solomon’s Porch, as it was called, the people were amazed and ran to them.] There had been a miracle, it was obvious to all. There was a difference that could not be accounted for by natural means. They knew this man, recognized him and were utterly astounded by what had happened to him. There had been a miracle but how did it happen? What was the explanation? [P] [v.12 When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow-Israelites, why are you surprised at this, and why do you stare at us? Do you think that it was by means of our own power or godliness that we made this man walk? ] They thought that Peter and John had some special power – but no, it was not them. They didn’t take any credit because it wasn’t their power or ability that had done this. So then, what was the explanation? [v.13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has given Divine glory to His Servant Jesus.] It wasn’t them, they didn’t have the power in themselves – but Jesus did! It was Jesus who had done this by the power that God had given Him – He alone has the power to set free from that which has crippled. God had given Him glory but that is not what they gave him, they didn’t give Him glory. Peter talks about how they treated Jesus: [v.13 But you handed Him over to the authorities, and you rejected Him in Pilate’s presence, even after Pilate had decided to set him free. He was holy and good, but you rejected Him, and instead you asked Pilate to do you the favour of turning loose a murderer. You killed the One who leads to life, but God raised Him from death—and we are witnesses to this.] Peter in effect accuses them of murder! He states the Gospel: Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried and He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures. [v.16 It was the power of His Name that gave strength to this lame man. What you see and know was done by faith in His Name; it was faith in Jesus that has made him well, as you can all see.] The reason for the miracle was Jesus – the power of His Name. Peter says it twice: it was faith in Jesus – believing in Him. Faith in Jesus releases the power of God. Jesus does it – but what is needed on our part is faith: believing in His death and resurrection. But they didn’t believe in Him – what they did was kill the only One who could save them. Save them? Did they need saving? – they didn’t have a life-long impediment like this lame man. What did they need saving from? Did they need delivering or being set free? The truth is that we all have a life-long impediment – far more crippling than what this man suffered from: the crippling burden of sin. [P] We have all sinned and come short of God’s glory – and the wages we receive for that sin is death. No one has the power to deliver themself from that! So here was this One who God glorified, His promised Messiah, the One who has the power to deliver from what are impotent to deal with – and they killed Him! What a horrendous blunder. They didn’t know what they were doing! [v.17 “And now, my fellow-Israelites, I know that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was due to your ignorance. God announced long ago through all the prophets that His Messiah had to suffer; and He made it come true in this way.] They didn’t know what they were doing but God does know what He is doing – and through what they did He was accomplishing His plan. They acted in ignorance, made a terrible mistake but there is a way to recover the situation. There is a response that they should make now that they have been confronted with this miracle and knowledge of who had done it: [P] [v.19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that He will forgive your sins.] That is what repenting is, turning from your own way to God. And what is the consequence, the result of this repentance? God will forgive your sin – the sin that causes death. With sin forgiven, we have life! The life-long impediment has been removed! [v.20 If you do, times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and He will send Jesus, who is the Messiah He has already chosen for you. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for all things to be made new, as God announced through His holy prophets who lived long ago. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me, and He will be one of your own people. You are to obey everything that he tells you to do. Anyone who does not obey that prophet shall be separated from God’s people and destroyed.’ And all the prophets who had a message, including Samuel and those who came after him, also announced what has been happening these days. The promises of God through his prophets are for you, and you share in the covenant which God made with your ancestors. As he said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants I will bless all the people on earth.’ And so God chose His Servant and sent Him first to you, to bless you by making every one of you turn away from your wicked ways.”] Turn from your wicked ways – that means “repent”. Peter told them that their response must be repent – turn from their own sinful way, turn to God. It is exactly the same response we need to make. That is the way to life, to forgiveness of sin; and through that to receive the gift of eternal life – life in all its fullness. No longer a cripple but living a full life! The power is there, it is in the Name of Jesus. The way is simple: two steps, we saw them here in this story: REPENT and BELIEVE. [P] Turn from your own wicked ways and turn to God. Believe – place you faith in the Name of Jesus – His power and His death and resurrection. Relying upon Him dying in your place, dying the death you deserved, paying the penalty due to you. The conclusion as to what we should do is there in [v.19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;] This lame man’s life was transformed by Jesus – yours can be too, if you make the same response: repent and believe in Jesus the Messiah.