As we make our approach to the new year, especially after a difficult 2020, is the need for unstoppable faith. Faith has been challenged this year, which we will further consider in the next lesson. So we need a stronger faith and a deeper faith. So how can we live with an unstoppable faith? This is what we will be considering over the next few weeks. Open your Bibles to Acts 3 and we are going to see our first picture of unstoppable faith.
The Healing (3:1-10)
The apostles Peter and John are going up to the temple because it was time for prayer. As they are about to enter the temple, they encounter a man who had been lame from birth. Every day he was placed there, probably by family members, so that he could beg from those entering the temple (3:2). So as Peter and John walk up, the lame man asks for money. Look at what happens in verses 6-8. Peter tells this lame man that he does not have money but he is going to give him something else. “In the name Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” Then Peter pulls him up by his hand and immediately the lame man is no longer lame. He is walking, leaping, and praising God (3:9). So he enters the temple courts with Peter and John, walking and praising God, and everyone saw it. You can imagine the scene as they are seeing the man walking and leaping and praising God, the very man that they passed every day on their way to worship and pray to the Lord. So everyone is filled with awe and astonishment about what had happened (3:10).
The Explanation (3:11-16)
Everyone in the temple complex comes running to where Peter, John, and the lame man are, wanting to know what had happened. They want an explanation for this, just like we would desire an explanation. In verse 12 Peter says to not look at them as if they did this. They did not do this by their own power or righteousness. Jesus is the one who did this. God has glorified Jesus. You denied him before Pilate, even though Pilate had decided to release him. You died the Holy and Righteous One, asking for a murderer to be released to you. You killed the source of life but God raised him from the dead.
Verse 16 is the important point of Peter’s explanation. Faith in Jesus is what has given this lame man perfect health. Jesus is the one who is continuing to heal because God raised him from the dead. Listen to the message: Jesus gives perfect health to those who have faith in him. The healing of the lame man proves that Jesus is alive. Jesus has risen from the dead. The healing of the lame man also proves that healing and perfect health is available to those who have faith in Jesus. This is why this healing occurs. The healing of the lame man is representing a spiritual picture. His life represents our lives. How long had this man been lame? He has been lame all his life. He has needed healing for his whole life. There was nothing that the lame man could do to fix his condition. He had no power to solve his problem. No one else had the power to solve his problem. His family or friends would bring him to the temple gates to ask for money. That was the most they could do. They could not be the solution to his problems either. Only Jesus could provide what this man needed: perfect health. Only Jesus could give what was necessary: healing.
The Response (3:17-26)
This time Peter does not wait for the audience to ask what they need to do like we see in Acts 2. Peter continues on to what these people need to do regarding their sins and how they can find healing too. Peter first notes that all that happened was to fulfill God’s plan (3:18). Repent and turn back to God to have your sins wiped out and that seasons of refreshing may come from the Lord (3:19-20). Peter tells the people that they need to return to God. Turn away from sins and come back to the Lord. Turning back implies that we have wandered away from the Lord. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. All of us have been like sheep who have gone astray. Turn back to the Lord. Come back to him. When you come back to the Lord you will have your sins wiped out. Think about that image. All of the sins you have ever committed and everything you have ever done wrong will be erased. It is all wiped out. Who does not wish that you could wipe out your mistakes and sins? Who does not want to have a fresh start sometimes? God is offering a fresh start. You went away from the Lord but you can turn back and have a fresh start. You can start over with the Lord and have all of those sins and mistakes wiped out. God will take them away.
Second, Peter says that the times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Refreshing is a great word. We want refreshment after a hot, long day. The Greek word that is translated “refreshing” carries the meaning of receiving relief from distress, difficulty, or burdensome circumstances. Turn back to God and let the times of refreshing come into your life. Let God give you relief from the burdens you carry. There used to be an old commercial that would ask the question, “How do you spell relief?” The question was regarding heartburn. Peter is asking us to consider how we spell relief because his answer is Jesus. His answer is that we would not keep living how we are living nor keep doing what we have been doing. Seeking your own way does not bring relief or refreshing. Seeking your own path only brings more misery and pain. We have the problems we have because we put ourselves there. Depending on ourselves even further is not the answer.
This is part of the picture of the lame man in Acts 3. The lame man cannot depend on himself. He knows that. He needs help. He needs someone to take care of him. He needs someone else. But to get the healing and refreshing that comes from the Lord requires that we come to the same conclusion. You cannot help yourself. You can’t solve your problems. You can’t make things better. You cannot give yourself the relief you need. All of your issues are still there the next day. No matter what you do or where you go, the futility of life is still there. But you can come to Jesus and find relief and rest. This was always the offer of Jesus:
Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28–29 CSB)
Peter continues with his message. Jesus will remain in heaven until the restoration of all things. Jesus is doing his restoration work as he sits on the throne and rules over heaven and earth. Moses said that a prophet like him would arise and that you would need to listen to him or be completely cut off. All the prophets spoke of these days regarding the arrival and work of Jesus. Please listen to verse 26.
God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways. (Acts 3:26 CSB)
God raised up Jesus so that he could bless you, as the promise was made to Abraham. But look how God is trying to bless your life: by turning you from your evil ways. We just do not look at life with this lens. God is blessing your life by keeping you from sin. God is blessing your life by telling you to avoid those temptations and sins that Satan is throwing at you. This is why God gives you laws and commandments. This is why God tells you to go his way and not your way. God is showing you the way to the blessed life. Turn from your ways and turn back to God because this is God’s way of blessing your life.
So here is the message. We need to see how lame we are and how the healing that Jesus offers is more precious than silver and gold. Now I hope you are asking how this lesson fits the idea of having an unstoppable faith. We will have an unstoppable faith when we see that it is only through our faith in Jesus that we can have perfect health and healing from the Lord. To have a strong faith we need to see that what we have been doing in our lives with a weak faith does not work. Living a little for Jesus and a little for ourselves gets us nowhere near the healing and blessing that we need. If we want our sins wiped out, then we must come to Jesus in full faith. If we want refreshing and relief, then we need to come to Jesus in full faith. If we want to not be cut off from the Lord, then we need to come to Jesus in full faith. If we want the spiritual health we need because life is a mess, then we need to come to Jesus in full faith. God is trying to turn us from our wicked ways. The refreshing, healing, and health for our lives will not come by our own power (3:12). Jesus will fix your life, not you. Jesus will fix this world, not you. But faith means that we will turn from our ways and turn to the ways of Lord. Otherwise we do not have faith. It is not faith to keep doing what we want but with our lips say that we have faith in the Lord. Jesus is offering healing for your life. Do you have the faith to have healing and refreshing come to your life?