Positioned to do Miracles Part 1

The book of Acts is a history of the early church written by Luke to help his friend Theophilus understand the faith of which he has become a part.  It follows on from the gospel of Luke, picking up the story after Jesus rose from the dead but before he ascended to heaven.

Of course the chapter divisions that we see on our bibles were not in the original text.  However here is an interesting question – what happens in every single chapter of Acts until chapter 15?

Answer – something miraculous.  In each and every one of the first 14 chapters there is an event that is supernatural.

In chapter 1 Jesus ascends into heaven.  In chapter 2 the church is born with flames of fire and speaking in tongues.  In chapter 3 the crippled beggar is healed.  In chapter 4 there was a supernatural earthquake where the church met (in response to their prayer that God would do miracles).  In chapter 5 there were 2 supernatural executions (yikes!) and even Peter’s shadow was healing the sick.  In chapter 6 Stephen, who “performed amazing miracles and signs”, was arrested but has his face supernaturally radiant.  In chapter 7 Stephen sees a vision of Jesus in heaven as he addresses those who arrested him.  In chapter 8 Philip is taken by the Holy Spirit after he finishes leading the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ.  In chapter 9 Jesus appears to Saul on the road to Damascus, and as an afterthought Peter raises someone from the dead.  In chapter 10 an angel arranges a meeting between Peter and Cornelius, after Peter has a vision from God.  In chapter 11 the church organises its welfare program on the basis of a prophecy about a coming famine given in one of their meetings.  In chapter 12 Peter miraculously escapes from prison when an angel busts him out, after first waking him up.  Chapter 13 sees Paul’s first mission’s trip which was started after the Holy Spirit speaks during a prayer meeting and tells the church what to do, and then an opponent of their ministry is struck blind.  Chapter 14 has Paul and Barnabas continuing to travel, “and the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. (v 3)”.

It is clear that in the life of the early church miracles abounded.  It wasn’t just healings either – it was all sorts of supernatural events. Can you imagine being a part of a church where miracles are normal?  Where the supernatural movement of the Holy Spirit was just what happens in a normal week?  Most Christians I know long to have that decisive intervention of the Holy Spirit in both their lives and in their church involvement.

It seems to me that the best way to bring it about is to be out on the cutting edge of what God is doing.  When Paul was doing missions in places that had never had a Christian witness before it was all happening.

Scholars believe that Acts covers the church’s first 30 years or so.  So very roughly, each chapter is a year or so on from the cross.  If you came to Christ in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and then lived the rest of your life in Jerusalem then you might end up in your second and third decade of your Christian life reminiscing about how good it was in the first decade.  But if you made yourself available for what God was doing further afield, then you would have fresh stories to add to the ones from earlier on in your Christian life.

We can’t know for certain what the church in Jerusalem was like when Luke is talking about the church in other places – it would not be right to imply an absence of miracles from the silence of Acts about the Jerusalem church.

But what we can know for sure is that where the gospel was advancing miracles continued to abound.  And I am certain that it is still true today.

John

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