Monday, April 11, 2016

Acts 9:36-43 Signs that Cause Wonder

KEY TEXT: Acts 9:40-42 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

KEY THOT: The early church grew through signs and wonders, as miracles were performed in the name of Jesus. As in this case, after Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, many believed in the Lord. In fact, this is not just true of the NT church in Acts but throughout church history up the present days: wherever there is explosive growth of the church, it is through the faith of simple Christians who believe that God can still perform miracles through the name of Jesus. Western church historians tend to play down the supernatural aspects of church growth dynamics. In line with their naturalistic worldview and their rationalistic faith, they ignore the real causes of church growth in history, viz. through signs and wonders. Even in our present century when we have witnessed the greatest growth of Christianity, it was mainly through Christians who believe that Jesus still heal sicknesses and set people from evil spirits. This explanation is especially true for the explosive growth of Christianity in Africa, Latin America, China and India. In contrast, European Christianity is in decline and in its death throes: so it is a warning to us Asian church leaders who are trained in the naturalistic and rationalistic faith of Western theologians, that if we adopt their anti-supernaturalistic worldview, Christianity will decline and die in Asia too. But thanks be to God that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever! If we believe, He is still performing signs that cause unbelievers to wonder!

Of course, that is not to downplay the importance of God’s word. But it must always be Word and Spirit, not just Word alone. We are called to feed and tend the lambs who become believers as a result of encountering God through a supernatural experience. The work of discipleship starts with converting the lost through the power of the Spirit and then teaching and training them in righteousness through God’s Word. But we cannot even begin to teach and train if there are no new believers birthed into God’s kingdom. The word ministry in the NT church is directed not only inward but more so outward—towards the unsaved and unchurched. May the Lord open our eyes to see the privilege of seeing lives transformed by the power of his Gospel. 

Our Father in heaven, thank You for giving us a supernatural faith that is life-transforming, bringing down heaven’s glory among us so that those who do not have faith may believe and be saved. Amen.

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