Acts Part 8

Notes on Acts
Part Eight

Read 9:32-35.
Peter continues his ministry. He and Paul were both actively proclaiming Christ at the same time. The town of Lydda was in Samaria. Peter did not remain in Jerusalem, but travelled in order to spread the gospel. He heals a man who had been paralyzed for eight years. When the residents saw the man healed, “they turned to the Lord.” The Holy Spirit may use healing, or other kind works of grace through a disciple of the Lord, to bring others to Christ. But it is never the benefits of the Lord by themselves that bring a turning of the heart. It is the Spirit’s work upon the hard heart of an unbeliever that turns a person.

Read 9:36-43. 

Tabitha is an example to all of us. Her life was characterized by “deeds of kindness and charity.” Verse 39 has her friends showing Peter the clothes that she had made. She labored over these clothes. (Everything had to be made by hand back then.) Then she would give them to the needy. 

The apostle then raises her from the dead. We earlier have seen Peter heal completely a man lame from birth. Now he raises a dead woman. He is performing miracles of the same magnitude as those of our Lord! We ought not to forget that Peter was a weak vessel. Recall how many times that he stumbled when he was with the Lord. He didn’t understand things well. He sinned when he renounced the Lord. Some will say that those happenings were before he received the Holy Spirit. There is some truth to this. He was more bold, as well as more powerful, after he received the Holy Spirit.

But, he was still weak in certain respects even afterwards. He had an inordinate concern about what other people thought, especially his fellow Jews:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”  

Cephas, of course, is Peter. He was fearful of the Hebrew Christians and, as a result, he refused to eat with the Gentile believers. That was a sin! Practicing separation of the body of Christ because of ethnicity. So, Paul rebuked him and called him a hypocrite to his face!

This ought to be an encouragement to us.  Peter is no different than us, yet he did mighty works! You are weak. You play the hypocrite sometimes. But you can do mighty works! Why? Because you have the power of the Holy Spirit available to you!

How can you get it? You do what Peter did. There are two things that Peter did that allowed him to be a vessel of the Lord’s power and mercy to others. The first thing that Peter did was that he did not remain in his sin. Every time he sinned, he repented. He “died to sin and lived to righteousness.” This means that he trained himself to flee sin and deny it. And, he sought to live in accordance with the Lord’s will. He lived this way so that he could tell others to do the same:

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 

Notice that he writes that “we might” live this way. We still have a choice to live in the will of God or go our own way even after becoming a disciple. To the moles and the bats with our own ways!  Take the Lord’s way! It is the way to a life of enjoyment!

So, confess your sins and come out of them!

Second, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit because he was a witness! If you do not intend to witness for the Lord then do not expect to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. But, if you will, then it is available to you and the power of the Spirit is yours. Every disciple has the power of the Holy Spirit already in order to overcome sin and live righteously. This is the essential aspect of the Spirit. You have the Spirit of Christ in you!

If you will be a witness then the filling of the Spirit will come. (You may still need to ask for it.) You will do what Peter did. We have seen before that we will not have the same magnitude of power that the apostles had because the truth of their message was being proven (Hebrews 2:3-4). It has now been proven. Once something is proved it does not need to be proven again. But we can and will perform extraordinary things!

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  

After this quickening of Tabitha, we read:

And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  

“Many believed,” but not all. The Holy Spirit will use miracles, works of kindness, and words of wisdom to stir up faith in the heart of the one who learns of these things. Yet, it is not the miracle or work of kindness that is effective. It is the Spirit’s working in the person’s heart. If one has not been effectually called by the Spirit then even if a person should rise from the dead it would be of no effect:

And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”