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Deemphasizing Miracles (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
December 15, 2022 6:00 am

Deemphasizing Miracles (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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December 15, 2022 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts


Peter raising a paralytic from the bed and raising a dead woman up and we look at this and we say where are these miracles for us? Well I'm trying to explain why they have been de-emphasized. Christ uses them for his purposes, not to satisfy our thirst for them or our curiosities or whatever else, our plight. So insisting on miracles, even having an unchecked craving for them, puts us out of line.

But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of Acts chapter 9 as he begins his message, De-emphasizing Miracles. Peter said to him, But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since little was near Joppa, the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room.

And all the widows stood by weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out and knelt down and prayed. Returning to the body, he said, Tabitha, arise. She opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up. And when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa that many believed on the Lord.

So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon a tanner. The Bible, our Bible, gives us so much to think about. Think about God, things to think about ourselves, others, life in general, subjects with facts that we would otherwise avoid or altogether miss. We come to the scripture, these things are presented to us and they force us to think.

That's the goal. In this section that we have before us this morning, we read of God performing these two miracles, one of the man in bed and the other of the woman that was dead. What about us today in these miracles?

We read them in the scripture and they seem to be routine. They certainly were not. If you do the math, you find out they're very, very rare. But nonetheless, they took place. We who believe the Bible have no difficulty with miracles, with believing that they exist. The difficulty that we have is in their absence.

We want them to happen more often and they do not. Would Christ rather we impress him with obedience or with miracles? If you serve Jesus Christ, what do you think would be most impressive to him? That you could perform signs and wonders or you could obey the gospel even without the signs and wonders based on the truth. Going back to that reading the Bible, being forced to think about things concerning God and ourselves and others and mankind.

Forced to think about these things and make a decision. And based on that, acting on it, obeying the Lord, seeking him, hungering and thirsting for him, asking, seeking and knocking and still following him even if the door does not open the way you had thought it would. That is faith.

That is perseverance. Jesus said this, speaking about impressing him. He says, my mother and my brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it. Martin Luther made a good comment. I'm not too wild about much of what the reformers did, though there was a remarkable age and what they went through.

It was fantastic, actually. Much theology still had to be worked out with them. Remember, most of them were Roman Catholics. They had come out of that. They had protested Roman Catholic dogma and doctrine. And Luther, a tough man in and of himself, he says it is not Christ walking on the sea, but his ordinary walk that we are called on to imitate.

That's true. I'm not looking to walk on the water as much as I am looking to walk like Christ, to be like Christ. That is my biggest request of God, to be Christ-like more than anything else. And then there are those that scoff at the Bible's miracles because they're not experiencing them. This group has to experience something before they believe it.

It's quite irrational, but it happens nonetheless, and they think it's very rational. These miracles that the Bible speaks of, they either think they did not happen, or there's another group that will come along within Christianity and suggest that, well, they don't happen because the church is so disobedient and so faithless, and I don't agree with that at all. I think that Elijah was a man of like passions, and so are we.

It's the same people, the same desire for the Lord. We want to see these miracles performed in our life as they were in the biblical pages, coming off the pages of the Scripture, but it misses the point if we are thinking that we should be performing signs and wonders like the apostles. Hebrews 10, verse 38, Now the just shall live by faith.

But if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him. And of course, when the apostle says, we walk by faith, we walk by faith, that's all he needed to say. He said more, but that alone is so loaded with information, we walk by faith. Now, that Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, who really gave the New Testament that phrase, the just shall live by faith, and incidentally, it shows up three times in the New Testament, all at the hand of Paul. Well, how does Habakkuk end his prophecy? Because he starts off not liking what God was doing, but he's subject to it, he submits to it. He submits to whatever God wants to do, and he closes out his prophecy with this. Though the fig tree may not blossom nor fruit beyond the vines, though the labor of the olive may fail and the fields yield no food, though the flock may be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in Yahweh, I will joy in the God of my salvation. He's saying, we can starve to death, I'm still going to believe in the Lord.

It's quite profound, but it has happened in history. Christians have suffered and died trusting the Lord. And so, we don't need miracles, we need faith. That is what we need. Remember, we're de-emphasizing miracles because Christ de-emphasized them. And we have to settle this in our thinking or else we'll be very confused. Faith, grace, and obedience is now the emphasized work of the Holy Spirit in believers.

Shallow mankind does not want to hear this. Even some churchgoers sneer at the thought of preaching truth as outranking miracles. And that's too bad. And so they remain confused to the point of being dishonest because the fact is miracles are not prevalent. They happen. Of course, salvation is a miracle all by itself.

I'm just going to leave that one on the side for now. And there's a reason for all of this. The times of the apostles was the age of the miracles, as it was in the days of Elijah and Elisha, as it was in the days of Moses and Joshua. And when Joshua takes over, he's performing miracles, they're happening, but they start to de-emphasize. And today, because of the work of the apostles, the signs and wonders that they did, the insight that they have given us, we are supposed to be equipped for the preaching of Jesus Christ for saving souls. Jesus gave the special beatitude to Christianity. He gave a special beatitude to the world. He gave a special beatitude to me and you as individuals, all bundled into one sentence. Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe. He de-emphasized the miracle. And he emphasized faith, trusting in God no matter what. Christ, until the great tribulation period, de-emphasizes miracles on the basis of faith. Now when the great tribulation comes, they will again be emphasized. Do we understand this?

Like it or not, you can't. I don't know how you can honestly say, oh that's not true. You can't walk on water, nor do you know anyone who can, other than the Christ. Miracles were given to the apostles as a helpmate to the word of God. And this is what Jesus said would happen. Mark's Gospel, chapter 16, verse 20. The Gospel of Mark closes with this. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.

Amen. Well that was the fledgling church, when it was just being born. When it needed to be sort of endowed with a rich power that we don't use so much today, because they did not have the New Testament, they were writing it.

They were living it. We have the New Testament. We have so much New Testament that people leave expensive Bibles in the church and never come back for them. They just go to get another one.

They're just all over the place. But it wasn't the case in these days. So insisting on miracles. I'll get to the text eventually, but this has everything to do with Peter raising a paralytic from the bed and raising a dead woman up. And we look at this and we say, where are these miracles for us?

Well I'm trying to explain why they have been de-emphasized. Christ uses them for his purposes, not to satisfy our thirst for them or our curiosities or whatever else, our plight. So insisting on miracles, even having an unchecked craving for them, puts us out of line with God's present methods. I know when you really want God to do something, you want him to really do it.

John's Gospel, chapter 4, Jesus said to him, unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe. That was not a compliment. It was a criticism. It was a rebuke.

It was an alert. It is a teaching. It is something that we are supposed to be equipped with for the work of ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ. These words are not preserved just so that we could read them and apply them to other lives.

They're for us. Today is the day of salvation, the miracle of salvation, by truth from the scripture. And I fear a lot of Christians just don't want to hear any of this. Salvation based solely on the word of God. That is the dominant method of the church.

Luke's Gospel, chapter 16, but he said to him, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rise from the dead. This is Abraham. Abraham is saying, and Jesus is the one telling us this, it's the scriptures. It's the scriptures.

That's where it gets done. You can have the miracles and no scripture and you still go to hell. May we stop being surprised as Christians that preaching the word supersedes performing wonders.

That is so important that we understand how valuable we are to the Holy Spirit, because we're the ones that he fills and uses and abides with to engage the loss. You may scoff. You may dislike it.

You may even be offended by what I'm saying. But it is true and it is faithful. Ephesians chapter six, Paul sums up his letter with these words. Peace to the brethren and love with faith, not with miracles, love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. So recognizing this great reduction of miracles.

It is a fact. It's not faithlessness at all. It's faithfulness to look at the realities before them and work within the confines of those realities. And may we not blame ourselves for God using us through the word and not miracles. Boy, it would be so nice if I could just do this and so and so would come to Christ.

Of course it would be, but that's not how it's going to happen most times. And so now with that background to miracles, so that we don't feel left out, but we'd rather feel summoned, summoned to the throne of God, to perform as the apostles, but without the signs and wonders, except the sign and wonder of truth and fact from the scripture. Verse 32, now it came to pass as Peter went through all the parts of the country that he also came down to the saints who dwell in Lydda. Well the Jerusalem Christians were chased up to this region at the persecution that started with Stephen, Acts chapter 11 again. Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, Antioch, Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews only. Well Philip also, in chapter 8 we read, Philip was found in Azotus and passing through he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea. So if you track, if you look on a map and you look at the places that the Christians were scattered to, to the north and to the west of Israel, and then you track from Azotus to Caesarea, you find Philip went right through Lydda, he's going right on that track. So there's a harmony taking place between what Peter is now going to do and what the other Christians and what Philip had done ahead of him.

Not a lack of trust. Peter valued his contribution to Christianity because he understood the investment Christ made in his life. And you may say things like, well it's not me, it's the Lord.

Well we all know that. But do you understand that Christ has invested in you and now it is yours to work out, to implement, is an action required. So we have servants in this church that have been serving for years, especially some of the leaders. And God has invested in them, they've learned things from serving so long.

And it's not easy to replace them with a rookie and expect to still get the same quality of results. And so knowing that God has invested in you is meaningful. Peter knew that God invested in him.

He didn't say in Jerusalem, ringing his finger, well I can't be used, you know I denied the Lord one time, it was really a horrible sin, and oh God, would God use me? No, Peter's in action. No matter what. He has the truth and he's going to put it to use. And we see the results. Paul wrote, he said, I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. It's a harmony.

It's sort of a tag team kind of thing for you wrestling fans. Alright, coming back to this, that he also came down to the saints who dwell in Lidda. Well this Lidda is a difficult word to pronounce in English actually.

It just doesn't flow off the tongue. However, it's a village in the plain of Sharon. And here we see again the New Testament classifying all Christians as saints. There is no super class of Christian. There is no elite team of Christians. Even those who are assigned to be apostles, evangelists, prophet and teachers, that's their calling, that's their work, but they do not belong to a super class.

They have their role and those that aren't in their position have their role to perform also. And it is troubling when you find folks that think that, you know, I'm a messianic Jew. Some of them, not all of them, say that as though they have a higher classification that they're closer to the cross. And I just wish they would say I'm a Christian and leave all that other stuff out. I'm sure it may have its meaning used somewhere, but overall we're just all Christians together. Isn't that enough?

Why would we need more? Verse 33, chapter 9 of Acts. There he found a certain man named Aeneas who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. Now that's a Greek name and he's probably a Hellenistic Jew.

We've covered that already in sessions past. No reason to doubt that he was a believer, but if you said, well, there's no evidence that he was a believer, I would say to you then how come it's not mentioned when he is healed that, you know, you don't leave something like that out. I believe he was one of the believers in Jesus Christ and certainly the way Peter will handle him. Telling us here that he was bedridden eight years. You look at that and you say, ah, man, it's a long time to be dependent on everybody else for life. Just to have the humbling experience, the misery that goes along with that. Metaphorically, we might find ourselves bedridden for a long period of time because of problems in our life through no fault of our own. The Bible doesn't beat him up and say he was bedridden because he was lazy or something like that. It just says this was his condition and nor should we beat ourselves up unless we're guilty. And then if we're guilty, there's a way to address that also without remaining or having the guilt remain on us. A lot of folks have a hard time getting past the guilt because, you know, sin is a serious thing.

Leaves a heavy scar. But this should be healing nonetheless by faith. Imagine if Paul said, I can't answer this calling to be an apostle and go to the Gentiles. I was very much part of Stephen's death.

I'm just too guilty. Well, you know, these things are there for us who are guilty to look back at our guilt and say, well, I've given it to Jesus Christ and he's big enough to handle it and I believe it. And then move forward in harmony with Christ. Well, verse 34, and Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals your eyes, make your bed, then he arose immediately. Peter makes this fact very clear before he takes another step. Jesus Christ heals you.

It's just no doubt that I don't have a special touch. It's not Peter the apostle. It is Jesus Christ.

Now, it would be silly to suggest that any created being has this particular power. Christ crucified dead, buried, risen, alive, and loved, Jesus is Lord. From heaven, he is still healing people. He is still functioning.

It is exclusive to him. I could not say, Aeneas, Michael the archangel heals you. Mary heals you.

That would be blasphemous to say such a thing. This belongs to God. You have to be divine to qualify to be the healer, the great physician. The only way Peter could know that this man was going to be healed before he was healed, the only way that he could guarantee it is if he had the gift of faith. Now, this gift of faith isn't permanent. It is explosive. It is, you know, for the moment.

It is activated for the moment. However, it is up to us to remain ready to receive the gift because we can certainly eliminate ourselves, be bypassed, and God uses somebody else in our place. 1 Corinthians 12, verse 8, For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit. Now, that person may give a wise saying, but next time have nothing to say because the Spirit's not giving them anything. To another, the word of knowledge through the same Spirit. Again, the word of knowledge that is something God gives, that we don't deserve, ergo it is a gift, and God is telling us something that we otherwise could not possibly have known without Him telling us. When Peter said, How is it that you lied to the Holy Spirit? Well, how did you know, Peter?

Well, God told me. Well, it continues, Paul does. He says, To another, faith by the same Spirit. Now, this isn't saving faith, this is trusting faith for the moment. This is that ability to know what God is going to do because God has shared it and we're seeing it in action when He says, Jesus heals you, but He's still in the bed. You can't do that.

Let's see you try, then the person stays in bed. Now you're a false prophet. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston, of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-15 13:14:41 / 2022-12-15 13:23:28 / 9

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