Faithlife Sermons

The Purpose Of Healing

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Introduction

I have a friend who tells the story of a kindergartner on the second week of school. This little fellow didn’t want to go to school anymore. And so he says to his parents, “I can count to 10, and I already know all my letters. I’m done! I don’t need to learn any more.” (S) Why do we laugh at that idea? Because we know that there is so much more to schooling than simply the ABC’s and counting to 10! If he stops there, he will never see the big picture.
How many of you like puzzles? When I was young I was taught a method of puzzle making. You start by building the frame and then gradually fill in the pieces (S). It was years before I learned that not everyone builds a puzzle that way. Some people look at the picture on the puzzle box and build something big and easily recognizable (S). There could be a temptation to stop there and think that you are done, but if you do, you miss the big picture.
As this chapter of Acts draws to a close we are introduced to
The Evangelistic Healing Ministry Of Peter Ch. 9:32-43
Some might look at this passage and conclude that healing is the end game. It is the point and purpose of this passage. However, that misses the big picture.
In this passage we will learn that healing has three purposes.
When these purposes are embraced, healing is given divine perspective.
Divine perspective enables a proper response to trials.
There are two different healings that take place in these verses. The first arrives with Peter…

1. Healing Aeneas In Lydda vv. 32-35

In Jesus’ time of ministry He is often found healing the sick and casting out demons. As His representatives, the disciples carry on these same activities. Jesus healed that He might demonstrate His deity. The disciples heal for the same reason. In these verses we learn that…

a. Physical healing comes through Jesus Christ vv. 32-34

We are introduced to Peter’s ministry in v. 32. Our last extended view of Peter was in ch. 5 when he and the other disciples preached Christ before the Sanhedrin and, after being ordered to be silent, continued preaching daily in the temple and in people’s houses. He then appeared briefly in ch. 8 to give the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans. Now we return to Peter who will star in the next few chapters before he fades off the scene and Paul takes center stage.
We are introduced to Peter’s ministry in v. 32.
Peter has apparently been traveling the country strengthening the believers. Remember that in 8:4 we were told that the believers in Jerusalem were scattered due to Saul’s persecution. By the way, the movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ” is in the Lodi and Stockton theaters for at least the next week.
1. Peter’s ministry v. 32
Peter is ministering to the believers in various areas and comes to Lydda (Luda) to encourage those who are there. While Peter is there, he is faced with Aeneas’ (Ineas) malady in v. 33.
9:32 – Return to Peter.
2. Aeneas’ malady v. 33
“Found” is an active verb. Which suggest that Peter was looking either for Aeneas specifically or for someone to heal in general. File that away in your mind. It will be important later. Aeneas is bedridden, having been paralyzed for 8 years. This is one of those cases that you don’t simply recover from! Even if whatever caused his paralysis was healed, his muscles would be so atrophied he wouldn’t be able to stand.
It is this man Peter approaches, this man whose malady is impossible to heal! And so we learn of Aeneas’ healing in v. 34 .
Imagine the shock of everyone watching as Peter says this man has been healed by Jesus and then commands him to get up and make his bed! This healing is personal, Peter calls him by name, and it is purposeful, Jesus the Christ heals you.
ii. The circumstance of Aeneas’ healing v. 34
Healing is always personal because our illness is personal. It is also always purposeful.
This verse introduces us to the first purpose of healing, The physical well-being of the person healed. This man was paralyzed and bedridden for 8 years! He was able to arise and make his bed. But that is only part of the picture. We will see more in the next verse.
Though Peter is the one who speaks to Aeneas, it is Jesus who heals him. This highlights an important lesson.
Regardless of the agencies involved, physical healing is from God.
Heals – ἰάομαι (iaomai) heal; cure. To heal v. — to make a person healthy again; often a miraculous act bringing about perfect health. Finite verb, present, either middle or passive, indicative, third person, singular.
Heals – ἰάομαι (iaomai)
This man will miraculously receive perfect health from Jesus Christ! Physical healing comes from God! Peter tells him to arise and make his bed and Aeneas does so immediately!
As is so often the case, This miraculous healing is instantaneous and complete. Physical healing comes through Jesus Christ. But that is not the only healing that takes place in this passage. The next verse reveals that…

b. Spiritual healing comes through Jesus Christ v. 35

I want to submit to you that this is the whole point of Peter healing Aeneas.
Here we find the second purpose of healing, The opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
Here we find the second purpose of healing, the opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
I would submit that this is God’s purpose in our sickness whether healing comes or not. He wants us to use it for gospel opportunities. I believe that this is also why Peter is looking for a sick person to heal! He wants to make an opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ.
Recently the father of a fellow pastor went home to be with the Lord. He had been a pastor himself but had spent the last several years in full time care. While in this care facility he ran a weekly men’s Bible study, a Sunday church service, and had many discipleship opportunities! God used His sickness as an opportunity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ! Anytime we go into the hospital we have a captive audience in the nurses and doctors. Added to that is the witness of our attitude. We have the opportunity to display Christ through how we respond to trials and hardships.
These people in Lydda and Sharon see Aeneas and they turn to the Lord.
Turned – ἐπιστρέφω (epistrephō) return; turn; turn back. To turn to v. — to direct one’s interest, attention, or trust towards something. Finite verb, aorist, active, indicative, third person, plural.
Turned – ἐπιστρέφω (epistrephō)
God used this man’s sickness and healing to turn people to Himself! No matter what we are going through, God can use it if we respond correctly.
This verse teaches us that
Regardless of eloquence or formula, spiritual healing is from the Lord.
This reality brings us to the third purpose, The glory of God.
Go back for just a minute to v. 34. Peter is very specific. Who heals this paralyzed man? Jesus the Christ! V. 35, who do they turn to? The Lord! It isn’t about Peter and it isn’t about the man who is healed. It is about the God who healed Him!
Our sickness and healing is not about us! It is about the glory of God!
There are men and women who claim to be able to heal today and their ministries are about them! Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, and Benny Hinn are just a few whose ministries have been about themselves and not about the glory of God!
If anyone uses supposed healing to elevate themselves, they are a false teacher. Peter heals Aeneas for the glory of God and so that people will come to Christ.
You and I are going to endure difficulty and trial. We are going to get sick, sometimes very sick. Will we use those times as opportunities to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or are we too afraid of what people will think?
Having recorded the healing of Aeneas, Luke now describes for us Peter’s…

2. Healing Dorcas In Joppa vv. 36-43

(S).
John 11:4 NKJV
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Some sickness is for the glory of God.
This is one such sickness. We sometimes ask the question, why do good people suffer? Scripture reveals several reasons. One is that God wants to refine and purify them. Another is that God desires to use them to draw others. A third reason is that God desires glory in and through our lives and He is glorified when His children patiently endure trials.
Peter is called in to this particular situation through…

a. The plea for Dorcas’s restoration vv. 36-39

There are two facts revealed about this plea. First…

i. The motivation for the plea vv. 36-37

We find their first motivation in v. 36 where we learn that they are Motivated by Dorcas’ deeds v. 36.
Peter is in Lydda. In Joppa there is a disciple, a follower of Jesus Christ, who is full of good works and charitable deeds.
1. Motivated by Dorcas’ deeds v. 36
Tabitha is her Hebrew or Aramaic name, Dorcas is it’s Greek spelling. There are two vital pieces of information we are given about this woman. She is full of good works (that’s one) and charitable deeds (that’s two).
When this word “full” is used the idea is that this is what characterizes, what is distinctive about the person.
When you got to know Tabitha, or Dorcas, you became aware that she was all about meeting the needs of other people.
Is anyone else already feeling convicted? I mean, is this how we are known?
“Good works” is the idea of engaging in good things or just generally good activities.
“Charitable deeds”, translated “alms” in the KJV, is one Greek word.
Charitable deeds – ἐλεημοσύνη (eleēmosynē) alms; charitable giving. Alms n. — the act of contributing money or goods to the poor; especially as flowing from a disposition to kindness and compassion. Noun, genitive of content, plural, feminine.
Charitable deeds – ἐλεημοσύνη (eleēmosynē)
Dorcas took care of those less fortunate than her! This makes me think of (S).
James 1:27 NKJV
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Dorcas had pure religion! She did what this verse describes. And it wasn’t just a one time deal! Right now in our country it is popular for celebrities to do some big outreach to a poor country. But you really only see them do it once. It’s a publicity stunt. Dorcas isn’t interested in a one time publicity stunt.
NASB = continually did.
“Did” is in a Greek tense that indicates continual action. NASB = continually did.
This was her way of life! Is it ours?
The second motivation is revealed in the next verse. They are Motivated by Dorcas’ death v. 37.
2. Motivated by Dorcas’ death v. 37
This woman who had been such a benefit to the body of Christ has become sick and died. Those in Joppa prepare her body and lay her in an upper room (S).
These are the things that motivate the plea for Dorcas’ restoration. She ministered to the needs of those around her, then she got sick and died.
The second fact revealed about this plea for Dorcas’ restoration is…

ii. The method of the plea vv. 38-39

The first thing these believers do after Dorcas has died is send two men tasked with Retrieving Peter in v. 38.
1. Retrieving Peter v. 38
Healing and even raising someone from the dead was not new to followers of Jesus. So when they hear Peter us in Lydda, they want to see if he can help them. Lydda & Joppa are 12 miles apart. About 4 hrs of walking. When the two men find Peter, they implore, beg, entreat him to come without delay. This is the kind of love these believers have for Dorcas! This is what he service for the Lord has done. It has knitted the hearts of these disciples to hers.
They are devastated by her loss and want Peter to come and see if he can do anything.
When Peter arrives in v. 39 they all gather for a time of Revealing provision v. 39.
2. Revealing provision v. 39
They want Peter to see the kind of woman Dorcas was. want him to see what she did and how she cared for them.
Notice who it is that Dorcas cared for, the widows. Everything in this verse is plural. There were many widows for whom Dorcas had made clothing. Tunic is the inner layer close to the skin and garment is the outer layer or cloak. The idea is that Dorcas clothed them completely. They all gather in the upper room to show what she had made.
Showing – ἐπιδείκνυμι (epideiknymi) show. To show (prove) v. — to establish the validity of something, as by an example or explanation. Verb, present, middle, participle showing manner, plural, nominative, feminine.
Showing – ἐπιδείκνυμι (epideiknymi)
They are offering the clothing she had made for them as proof of her godly, Christ-honoring character. What would someone offer for proof of mine or yours?
I am very convicted by Tabitha’s life. She has ministered so effectively to these people that they plead for her to be brought back to life! Her activity demonstrates a vital truth.
We are gifted to benefit the body of Christ.
Dorcas was apparently a skilled seamstress! She used that ability to clothe widows! The gifts, talents, and abilities, that you and I have are to be used to benefit the body of Christ. If they are not, we are wasting them.
What Dorcas does is not necessarily a big thing, but it is a practical thing. Practical like cutting hair, mowing a lawn, walking a dog. These “little things”, when done for the body of Christ, make a big difference!
Are we willing to do little things to serve the body of Christ?
Peter has answered their plea and come to Joppa. Now we learn of…

b. The prayer for Dorcas’s restoration vv. 40-41

What they are asking of Peter is impossible. But Peter has seen the impossible happen time after time. He knows that he serves an omnipotent God! A God who is all powerful and can do anything!
Instead of acting in his own strength, Peter prays. His actions in these two verses teach us powerful lessons about prayer. First, Prayer is essential v. 40.
i. Prayer is essential v. 40
Peter has an impossible problem. So he prays. I am certain that we have all heard of the power of prayer. Do we believe it? Prayer is essential. Turn with me to (p. 1215).
(p. 1215)
Luke 22:39–46 NKJV
Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
If Jesus Christ Himself, the God of all eternity, didn’t face His trial without prayer, who are we to think we can survive without it?!
In Paul is defending himself from the attacks of false teachers. One of his defenses is to explain a vision of heaven he had. With that vision he was given a thorn in the side. Paul prayed about it! He tells us that he prayed three times for it to be removed. Because of his persistent prayer, we have the glorious promise of (S).
Paul with his thorn, wouldn’t have without Paul’s prayer!
2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
At the end of our service this morning you and I are going to leave and go home. Something is going to happen. We are going to face difficulties, face impossible situations. The challenge that Peter’s actions present us with is to pray! Is prayer our first response to trial? Is it our first response to difficult circumstances? As kind of a side note, Peter pushes everyone out before he prays, he removes distractions. “Put them out” is the same Greek word used to cast out demons.
Peter prays over Dorcas and then turns and commands her to rise. I believe he was seeking direction as to whether this was the Lords will. Once he had that confirmation, he knew Dorcas could be raised. She opens her eyes, sees Peter, and sits up.
Again we see the first purpose of healing, The well-being of the person healed. Dorcas had died! She needed to be raised.
Yet Peter is unwilling to do anything until he had prayed. Prayer is his first action, why? Because. Prayer is essential.
The second powerful lesson we learn about prayer here is that Prayer is effective v. 41.
ii. Prayer is effective v. 41
Can you imagine being one of these people? Peter sends you out, then calls you back in and Dorcas is alive! Those who were called in for Peter’s presentation of Dorcas are the believers and widows, presumably those she has ministered to. There was no doubt that she was dead and there can be no doubting that she is now alive! Prayer is effective.
There is incredible testimony to the power of prayer here. Turn to (S).
James 5:14–15 NKJV
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
While we have the promise that the prayer of faith will save the sick, Peter’s prayer of faith brought the dead back to life! There is a vital lesson here for us.
Prayer makes the impossible, possible.
I don’t know what all of your are facing today. I know that many of you are facing poor health, the death of a loved one, difficult work situations, busy schedules, challenging children etc. What do know is that prayer is essential, and it is effective. Prayer will do one of two things. Prayer will either transform your circumstances, or transform you in the midst of your circumstances.
However, there is one time when prayer is useless. Prayer is useless when we don’t do it.
Those who doubt the power of prayer have never experienced it. But beloved, you don’t have to experience it. God’s Word says it is powerful and that should be enough for us!
Peter prays and Dorcas comes back to life. The final two verses of this chapter describe for us…

c. The product of Dorcas’s restoration vv. 42-43

This is the part of the story where we learn the bigger picture. The purpose of the healing was not just for Dorcas to be raised. It was for people to be saved. We see this as we find her restoration Producing conversion in v. 42.
Dorcas restoration becomes known throughout the city. Known – γνωστός (gnōstos) be; become; take place. To be known (state) v. — to be or become ascertained with certainty. Predicate adjective, nominative, singular, neuter.
Known – γνωστός (gnōstos) be; become; take place. To be known (state) v. — to be or become ascertained with certainty. Predicate adjective, nominative, singular, neuter.
Known – γνωστός (gnōstos)
People knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she had been raised from the dead. How? They saw her or talked to eye witnesses! The result of this knowledge is that they believed on Jesus! Here again is the second purpose, The opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
9:42 – Purpose of healing was for people to believe.
Is that the purpose today?
That is the purpose of this healing. For people to believe. Is that the purpose today? When so called “healings” take place, is the purpose for people to be saved and God to be glorified? If not, then it cannot be a true Biblical healing.
Here again is the second purpose, the opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
The third purpose is seen in who they believe in, the Lord! The third purpose of healing is The glory of God! Peter has no power to raise Tabitha on his own! He prays and the Lord gives the power. False teachers today say “I heal, I heard, I have a word”.
True Biblical healing will always result in the glory of God.
As believers, when we get sick, when we face difficulty, we have the opportunity to attract people to Christ and bring God glory. How we respond to trials determines the outcome. Think about Job. His response to his trials brought glory to God. (S).
Job 1:21 NKJV
And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
For thousands of years people have turned to this book for comfort, strength, and meaning in suffering.
Our lives can have that kind of impact! Dorcas’ restoration produces conversion. But that isn’t all. We also find it Producing conversation in v. 43.
Peter stays in Joppa with Simon. Do you think he may have had curious people stopping by? I do! He was probably very busy. What do you think Peter talked about when people came by? How great, wonderful, and powerful he was? No! There is no doubt in my mind that Peter preached the gospel! He had conversations with people.
ii. Producing conversation v. 43
Opportunities come when we respond correctly to trials. My family has had two miscarriages. We have been able to share with others. Extended family been through a lot. Expanded our outreach.
God can use whatever you are going through to begin gospel conversations! But you must respond correctly. God uses the healing of Dorcas to bring people to Christ!
Healing is God’s tool to draw people to Himself.
The healing of Dorcas opens the door for the gospel to go forward. It is hard to deny the power of God when someone is raised from the dead! It is hard to argue that Jesus isn’t alive when by His power, someone is raised from the dead!
This miraculous healing of Dorcas silences opposition to the gospel.

Conclusion

So what is the purpose of healing?
The purpose of healing is three fold:
1 - The physical well-being of the person healed.
2 - The opportunity to proclaim the gospel.
3 - The glory of God.
Here are a few thoughts I want to leave you with.
Aeneas spent 8 years on a bed so that God could heal him and bring people to Himself.
God wants to use your trials to attract people to Jesus!
You and I have been gifted and equipped to benefit the body of Christ.
If we are not using our gifts for the glory of Jesus Christ, we are wasting them.
While prayer is our most powerful resource, it is also our must unused resource.
Two final challenges and we are done this morning.
With these two challenges I leave you.
Respond correctly to trials and God will use them.
Pray without ceasing because prayer is always answered.
It may be yes, no, or wait, but it will be answered.
#394 “In My Life Lord, Be Glorified”
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