One Saved and Healed
There is a type of Christianity that is non-contagious. Yet, there is another type of Christianity that is highly contagious, which spreads rapidly, like an epidemic.
Listen to this statement by Vance Havner 65 years ago (1943).
“The early Christians in the Book of Acts were infected with a massive case of real Christianity. They did not need a shot in the arm every Sunday to keep them going. They knew Jesus and upset the world, worried Emperors, and gave the devil insomnia. They started something that spread so rapidly, that the jails couldn’t lock it up, fire couldn’t burn I up, swords couldn’t cut it up, water couldn’t cover it up, and the Roman officials couldn’t shut it up. In comparison, 20th Century saints have been vaccinated with a tiny dosage of superficial Christianity and thereby have been rendered immune to a good case of the real thing
Do you remember those awful shots when you were a child? I have a scar on my upper left arm where I got a small pox vaccination. What actually happened was, a small dose of the “small pox” virus was injected into my body, which results in anti-bodies being produced in my body that as successfully kept me from getting the real thing.
This is actually what has happened to so many people in Christianity. They have been exposed to a low level of Christianity and they presume they will miss hell and make heaven. But they have never had a real case that becomes infectious and contagious.
Read Acts 3:1-8 with me. As we have read these verses it seems that they had a powerful, contagious form of Christianity. What are the symptoms? Susan is our house-doctor. She hasn’t been wrong too many times and even when she is, she plays the role of a real doctor, and refuses to admit she is wrong. Someone noted that doctors bury their mistakes. Do you have symptoms of real Christianity? Contagious Christianity first affects your heart.
1. Committed Heart.
What would you say the level of Christian commitment is in the 21st Century? Whatever you think it is, when it is compared to Christians of the 1st Century, we aren’t even on the chart!
Some time ago a pastor wrote a word of commendation in the Sunday bulletin. The week before had been rainy. I’m talking about a stump floater, a gully washer. The pastor wrote, “I appreciate all of you committed people who braved the rain to come to church last Sunday.” My soul, have we gotten to the point in the 21st Century when a sign of commitment is that people brave the rain to go to church services.
· Sunday am. Raining outside. Children run to parent’s bedroom. “Mommy, daddy, what are we going to do?” “Children, ‘as for me and my house’ we will brave the rain.”
· Get dressed, go out in the garage, get in the car, drive to church, make it to the covered drive-through, sit in church, drive home in the rain, feeling good.
· First Century Christians in heaven, awaiting the Judgment Seat of Christ.
- We were tied to a stake and sang as we were burned to death.
- Put me in a bag of poisonous snakes and threw me into the river.
- To the 21s Century Christians they ask, “What was it like when you
live on the earth?”
- “We braved the rain.”
It is a sad day that the most spiritual thing some folk do is go to an air conditioned building once a week for an hour. How can you diagnose a genuinely committed heart? There is a heart committed to...
· Prayer, v. 1. Real Christianity is not a one-day-a-week, one hour a day experience where you are entertained. Real Christianity is 365-24-7. Christianity is not a part of your life; it is your life! These men had a time, a temple, and a team for prayer. And they did not fall into the temptation of living off of yesterday’s victories (3,000 had just be saved at Pentecost, chapter 2).
· Share. These men had personally heard Jesus say, “Go.”
- Obvious. I remember God putting a burden on my heart one day for a man I knew (Darrell Keen). It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and the man had 7 school age kids. After I arrive, within minutes every one in the house was gone and this man received Christ as his Savior.
- Obscure. A lady and her husband had attended our church services and I made an appointment to visit them on Saturday morning. The lady was the one who seemed to have all the interest, so I turned most of my conversation toward her. When I asked her, “Does this make sense to you? Would you like to receive Christ,” she kindly said, “No.” Somewhat casually I turned to the man and said, “How about you?” He said, “Yes,” and in the next few minutes I led him to know Jesus Christ.
Some haven’t caught on to this. They have their ticket to heaven, and they are not really concerned about others.
“He wasn’t much for stirring about, that wasn’t his desire.
While other worked to build their church, He was sitting by the fire.
Same old story ay by day, He never seemed to tire.
While others visited to win the lost, He was just sitting by the fire.
One day he died, as all must do, Some say he went up higher.
But if he’s doing what he always did, He’s still sitting by the fire!”
2. Compassionate Eyes.
There are two things God want us to do with our eyes. He want us to….
See people’s problems. Everywhere you go, your eyes should be sensitized to the needs and problems of others. v. 4 Peter “fastened his eyes upon him…” We go through life and are surrounded by people who have problems. And if we are not careful, we can live as if those people do not exist. Do you see who Peter saw?
· Slighted man. Deformed. Not a pretty sight. Many of us are guilty of slighting people—the very people we are called to reach...street, job, school, family.
· Suffering man.
- Birth defect. Imagine this man’s childhood. No little league baseball for him. Parents saw him take his first step. Sin is a crippler. We have all been injured by a fall—the fall of Adam. People are crippled by divorce; drugs; immorality; materialism.
- Begging. This man was on the very bottom. Begging was his only
option. He couldn’t do better or be better.
- Banished, Leviticus 21:18. This lame man was at the gate, but not inside the gate. This gate was given by a wealthy Alexandrian, made of Corinthian brass, 75 x 60 feet, and was adorned with tick, costly plates of gold. What a contrast—the beautiful gate and an ugly beggar.
See people’s potential. This beggar was also a…
· Seeking man. Indeed, he was seeking….
...worldly things, material things, temporal things.
...wrong things. He need Christ, but would have settle for coins. He needed a Savior for his soul, but he would have settled for some silver for his body.
The face that he was seeking something caused him to be open to Peter. v. 5. Lost people have a right to “expect” something of those who represent Jesus Christ.
2 Kings 6:17 “Lord, open his eyes, that he may see…”
3. Consistent Mouth.
Some Christians have a walk that doesn’t match their talk! Not Peter and John. They were not perfect by any standard, but they were making progress.
v. 6. this is certainly not an apology, or a complaint.
In the 13th Century Thomas Aquinas made a visit to Pope Pious II. The pope was counting some money and said, “We can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’ And Thomas Aquinas answered, ‘Yes, but can the church still say, “Rise up and walk?’ ” In our prosperity we have lost our power.
...no gold, but he had a glorious God.
...no silver, but had a sufficient Savior.
...no lucre, but had a living Lord.
...no money, but had a marvelous Master.
“In the name of Jesus Christ…” You know, we talk about what we consider important to us. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…” Some talk about special events, sports, politics, stock market. We should be talking about the Savior. “Take the name of Jesus with you…”
A deacon once shared this story on himself. He was a successful business man, who had a degree of wealth. His wife wanted a new car. They had enough money so he told her, “Buy whatever you want.” One morning, rushing to the office, his care would not start. Aggravated, frustrated, infuriated he jumped over into his wife’s new car. He had never been in before. Started it up and was making his way to work. It was rainy, freeways were jammed, wreck ahead had stopped all traffic. He was getting madder by the minute. The rain stopped, but everyone was till stuck...going nowhere fast. To make matter worse, the guy behind blew his born, beep beep. Again, beep, beep. The deacon shock his fist, the guy thought he was waving and waved back. Finally, beep, beep. That did it. He deacon got out of his car, walked back, reaching into the car, “What do you mean blowing your horn? Can’t you see I can’t go anywhere? Are you an absolute idiot?” The guy was shocked and surprised. With his arms up in the air, ready to defend himself, he said to the deacon, “I’m just doing what your bumper sticker says, ‘Honk if you love Jesus.” God broke that deacon’s heart on the spot. He fell to his knees on the wet pavement, “Forgive me. I do love Jesus, but I certainly did not behave like it. Forgive me.”
Committed heart...compassionate eyes...consistent mouth.
4. Caring Hands, v. 7.
This is true ministry—finding people who are down and helping them up. Real ministry is always touching those in need. Do you remember the old Bell Telephone commercials, “Reach out and touch someone.” This is exactly what Peter did.
“The church that comes down to the side of a wounded, weary, woebegone world and holds out the right hand and lifts is the church through which Christ is doing His work,” G. Campbell Morgan.
Our age and society has become “high tech.” Churches that really minister in these days must become “high touch” churches. We need that personal touch. People do not care how much you know until they first know how much you care.
Q: How do you get a case of contagious Christianity?
R: By close and intimate and frequent contact with the Lord, Acts 4:13.
Let’s start an epidemic!
· This beggar became a believer, v. 7-8a. He stood, He walked, He leaped, He praised.
· The crowd was silenced, stunned, vs. 9-11. This one soul led to 5,000 being saved, Acts 4:4.
(1) The value of an Individual
(2) The Virtue of an Interruption
(3) The victory of an intervention.