Whitsun 2004 pm What I have I give
What I have I give
3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Acts 3 6
What a wonderful evidence of the power of The Holy Spirit to transform lives is contained in these chapters of Acts! Step through these opening passages and you discover that the weak, failing and guilty Peter is changing. It is a metamorphosis.
In many respects it will be the same Peter as we met in the Gospels; his personality, outspokenness and humanity will be the same – but there is also a more fundamental change. You notice this particularly in regard to his priorities. In Chapter One we see the emphasis upon prayer and the application of Scripture – but after Pentecost this becomes especially apparent – and Peter’s sermon is full of Scripture as he applies it to the Christ He proclaims.
Secondly – we see the Holy Spirit at work in this the first major miracle of the early Church – assuming you discount the greater wonder of the Church itself – as Peter and John make their way to the temple and come literally face to face with an example of the needy world.
Yes – the cripple is strategically placed at the entrance to the temple – but there is a sense in which this was always to be a place where spiritual would be confronted by the natural – the worshipper with the misery of life. It is always so. We cannot expect to approach God in worship without facing up to the immensity of human need.
The outcome of both workings of the Holy Spirit was the glorifying of Jesus.
Although the Lord Himself has ascended – the Holy Spirit brings the power of the risen Jesus to the needy. At the heart of Peter’s words which are our text tonight:
What I have…
Here lies the reality of the risen Christ.
This story presents us with a unique insight into the way in which the Church should react with the world, the way in which worship, and the place of worship becomes a demonstration of His power – and a proclamation of His gospel.
The disabled man for a brief moment hoped that his financial needs would be met.
Luke’s short but compelling narrative captures the moment:
3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Almost certainly he expected money – and Peter’s next words must have seemed at once a disappointment and a challenge:
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Are we to assume that Peter and John saw no value in meeting the man’s financial needs? Of course not. Only in the last chapter the church’s finances had been boosted by the giving of generous benefactors. No – Peter and John have OTHER PRIORITIES. They are also the proclaimers of a SPECIFIC POWER and their work has a DISTINCT PURPOSE.
Before we turn to look at these aspects of the miracle we need to notice that Luke includes it so that we may see in detail how the CONSEQUENCES of that work of the Spirit of God led to both criticism and opposition from the Jewish authorities, and how it had a quite different influence upon the ordinary people. One of Luke’s purposes in recounting these narratives is to show the means whereby the new Church expanded. This event was crucial in the development of the Church’s ministry. The verses that follow throw light upon what Peter and John understood by what they were doing – and show us how the early believers were developing a very clear understanding of how the Lord Jesus wanted them to work out His commands.
It would be a mistake to set aside the enormous significance of this miracle in the forming of early church policy and theology.
We need to see the story – and Peter’s words in particular – as revealing the
v PRIORITIES not silver & gold … but the Name
v POWER “by faith in the name of Jesus” 3:16
v PURPOSE of the Holy Spirit’s work amongst them. “what I have I give…”
This should challenge us in our own views of how the Lord works in His church today.
On the way to and from our worship we cannot avoid the demands and expectations of the needy world in which we live. But our priorities need to mirror those of the early Apostles who were so close to the Lord and to the earliest lessons in what mattered most for Spirit filled disciples.
1. THE NEW PRIORITIES
You might argue that the two apostles – having just received considerable funds from the like of Barnabas and other members of the early church – would see immediately the relevance of that money to the needy who thronged the temple gates. But this was not so.
Jesus had given them clear instructions about what they should do now that He had ascended. The priorities were to meet together for prayer – to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit, and to witness to Him.
These priorities are evident in the story before us:
4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Peter’s response shows his application of Christ’s teaching in these respects:-
v It confronts the real needs “looked straight at him”
v It is willing to be recognised as meeting those needs “Look at us!”
v It directs attention to the One who meets such needs – Jesus “what I have…”
These are the NEW PRIORITIES.
A. CONFRONTING REAL NEED
It is not easy to relate to disability – or profound human need. Many times we look away – or feel uneasy.
We live in a town that has an increasing population of people who are in need of or are receiving treatment for addiction etc.
Just recently Di shared with the deacons her burden for that community of need and we received a visit from a representative of Teen Challenge.
I do not know how our church will respond to that which is a peculiar need of our location here at Bristol Road – but I do know that we cannot avoid it.
Confronted by the disabled man at the Beautiful Gate, Peter and John “looked straight” at him!
In your own neighbourhood the need may be different – but you have to LOOK STRAIGHT AT IT!
We have been born of the Spirit, we should be empowered by the Spirit – we CANNOT LOOK AWAY!
B. RECOGNISING THAT WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO HELP
Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
I am not saying that is easy. To attract the attention of the needy as those who have the power of the Holy Spirit to meet needs is not easy.
But if we do not risk that strategy – if we do not accept the responsibility that falls to all of Christ’s followers – then we are failing to do as He Himself said.
“Look at us!” is a dangerous invitation. It suggests that:
v We really do have an answer
v That we are prepared to share it
v That the Lord Himself will honour it.
C. SHARING HIM WHO REALLY MEETS NEEDS
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.
WHAT I HAVE…
That begs a number of important questions – doesn’t it?
v What *do* we have that we can offer the world of need?
v Which of the expected outcomes is the Lord’s priority for us?
v Are we ready to share it – and hazard the promise that His Name empowers?
What do YOU have?
Is the Holy Spirit so active in your Christian life that you can feel the imperative of His priority : the compulsion of His call : the central theme of His Gospel?
And if you don’t have it – are you going to take steps to acquire it?
v Will you pray to the Lord who gives gifts to His church and His people?
v Will you seek His guidance about your role in this outreach?
v Will you offer to His service those things which HE HAS GIVEN YOU?
2. The Power that works
but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
There can be no doubt – as we read the story – that Peter and John expected God to meet the disabled man’s real need through the power of Jesus’ Name. This was a mark of that BOLDNESS which only the Holy Spirit can give.
That aspect of the story humbles us – for although we claim to believe in the same Lord Jesus and the same Holy Spirit – our expectations are limited by a world view of spiritual things that discounts – even denies that such things can be.
Surely there is a measure of faith here that seems unique – and yet should not be unique?
We tell ourselves that these were the early days of the Church – that the truly miraculous was more common then…
In this respect we are provided with insight into this miracle by the discussions that follow. Luke has left us a detailed record.
When Peter explains to the crowd what happened he is very clear about the nature of that POWER:
12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
It is not a matter of Peter or John’s power or godliness.
It is entirely by faith in the Name of Jesus .. that this was worked.
It is also an opportunity for witness to all who knew about it – that Jesus who had been crucified had risen from the dead.
The POWER declares JESUS IN HIS RESURRECTION GLORY
The POWER declares the wonder of the Gospel for sinful men and women.
As the events unfolded this POWER provided an opportunity for the Gospel to be declared so that the same Holy Spirit could bring many to salvation.
The HEART OF THAT POWER – and PETER’S EXPECTATION OF THAT POWER lies in the NAME OF JESUS.
Do we have such a respect for – such an understanding of that NAME that CHARACTER that LORD that we could reach out in expectation of healing?
3. The PURPOSE “what I have I give…”
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
Ø Having PRIORITISED the need
Ø In confident expectation of the POWER of the Holy Spirit
Ø This work was not to be admired or wondered at – but GIVEN
The intent : “I give”
The power : “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth”
The action : “Taking him by the right hand….”
This has to be the test of the REALITY OF THESE THINGS “What I have I GIVE”
If the Christian’s life is to reflect the grace of the Lord Himself – then it must be CONSTANTLY GIVING.
This should mark us out from the general pattern of living – where to have is to hold.
To earn is to keep.
Certainly ALL THAT WE RECEIVE FROM GOD we are expected to SHARE.
Peter’s words about money are not some clever excuse to avoid the issue of need – but a prelude to A GIVING THAT TRANSFORMS.
5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.
Yes – it is a strategy that involves an incredible risk.
Are we happy to be risk-takers in the Christian life?
If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat…
If you want to meet the needs of the world you have to REACH OUT
Pentecost is a reminder of the Power of the Holy Spirit to bring Jesus into the lives around us.
We ask ourselves “What do you have?”
“What will you give?”