Sermon in a nutshell: Acts 9:32-43 “Many people believed in the Lord”
We all know that our bodies are not eternal. We will all finish our race on earth someday and start an eternal life with God in different form. In that sense, our spirit is more important than our body.
Still in the Bible, we keep finding stories of healing and feeding. For example, today’s Bible passage reports the healing of Aeneas. “When Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. ‘Aeneas,’ Peter said to him, ‘Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and roll up your mat.’ Immediately Aeneas got up.” Eventually Aeneas would die but Jesus healed him.
Why? The answer is found in verse 35: “All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” Jesus healed him to show God’s love and power. The fruit of this love was the change of people’s hearts. Some people believed in Jesus when they heard his teachings but some needed to see signs and wonders to believe in Jesus. Healing and feeding were two major tools for evangelism in addition to the preaching and teaching.
As Jesus raised the dead persons, Peter also brought life back to a woman, whose name was Tabitha. The Bible says, “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. When she died, people sent for Peter, believing that he would revive her! That was Peter’s reputation! When Peter came, he sent other people all out of the room and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.
This was a great miracle! However, let us not lose our focus here! Again, why did God allow Peter to do such a great miracle? Because God will be glorified when God’s servants perform miracles! Prophet Jeremiah said, “You performed signs and wonders in Egypt and have continued them to this day, in Israel and among all mankind, and have gained the renown that is still yours” (Jeremiah 32:20).God performed signs and wonders through Moses and people believed in God because of those miracles! Here the main focus is God, not the miracles! Jesus also said in John 4:48, ““Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” Jesus knew that people would believe only when they have personal experiences of God’s love and power. So, Jesus cured the dying son of a royal official and he and his household believed in Jesus (John 4:53).
Both in the Old Testament stories and New Testament narratives, the focus is salvation. God and Jesus used signs and wonders to help people to believe in God and to be saved! The goal was and is still salvation and the means were miracles. So when we read the Bible or experience miracles, we should give thanks to God and meet God!
Miracles have been tools for evangelism. We can say the same thing about good deeds that our church has been doing. Why do we feed the hungry and pray for the sick? Why do we donate money, time, and talent for homeless shelter and Habitat for Humanity? Because we care for their eternal life we participate in all those feeding and healing ministries. If what we care for is only the well-being of other people, government agencies and non-profit organizations can do much better job in those areas professionally. They have better knowledge and experiences in those areas of their specialty service. However, they do not care for the eternal life of their clients! But we care for their souls and eternal lives. That is why we have our own special interest in those mission and ministries.
Following the traditions of Jesus and his disciples, we have been participating in those social services and social justice mission and ministries. We are proudly and rightly participating in social services and social actions. We have reformed laws and policies. We have advocated human rights and equality of races, sexes, and classes, believing that all those mission and ministries should help people to experience God’s love and power. Our ultimate goal is to open doors for all the people to see God’s glory and accept God’s invitation. We want to share our eternal lives with all those whom we love!
So, today’s Bible has this report as a conclusion: “This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.” Whether we perform miracles or not our goal is same. We are called to spread the Gospel. We are called to share the Good News! If necessary, God will give us miraculous powers, signs and wonders. If necessary, God will give us money and powers. However, let us not forget this: All those are tools for evangelism. They are not the ends. They are not the ultimate goals. Saving souls and sharing eternal life is our calling. God will be with us in many different ways when we respond to this call. May God bless all of us who are willing to share Good News with others through all the means available.
1. What are the mission and ministry that you are using to share the Good News?
2. Through your mission and ministry, whose soul do you want to save?