He had been carried everywhere from the time he was a baby.
The only career he had was being a street beggar. He was 40 years old and most of his adult life had been spent sitting on one of the main highways into the city.
All of that changed in a moment.
Two believers in Jesus came by his panhandling location one afternoon. He spoke to them earnestly hoping they would put some money in his cup.
"I don't have any cash today," one of them said, "But what I do have I will gladly give to you. In the name of Jesus rise up and walk."
The believer took the man's right hand and pulled him to his feet. For the first time in his life, the man walked.
It was amazing!
The man walked around. Then he ran. He walked some more and then he began to jump. All the time he was doing this, he was praising God for healing him.
A large crowd gathered around them, as the man continued to walk, run and jump praising God.
The people were excited and began praising the two Jesus-believers who were obviously from up north.
As the crowd continued to grow, the big guy began to speak to crowd in his northern accent. "When Peter saw it, he answered the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this man? Or why do you stare at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? ... And His name, by faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. And faith which comes through Him has given him perfect health in your presence" (Acts 3:12, 16).
Many of the people in the crowd believed and also become followers of Jesus.
The religious and the political leaders were not happy, though. They arrested Peter and John, threatened them and commanded them to never speak or work in the name of Jesus Christ again.
Peter and John conferred with the leaders of the church and developed a new ministry model.
They rewrote their literature and adopted a ministry style that was more inclusive and inviting. They contextualized their sermons to the culture, seeking to be more tolerant of those with a different lifestyle and religious belief, and they modified their rhetoric.
That is 21st-century Western Christianity. That certainly is not what happened in Jerusalem in A.D. 33.
The apostles Peter and John left the court room with the threats and the command to no longer speak and work in the name of Jesus Christ.
While the voices of the religious and the political leaders were ringing in the halls of justice, they were not resounding in the hearts of these men of God.
The apostles met with the church and told them what had happened then they went to prayer.
They were not whining nor crying because of rejection and fear of the government. They cried out, "Now, Lord, look on their threats and grant that Your servants may speak Your word with great boldness, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal and that signs and wonders may be performed in the name of Your holy Son Jesus" (Acts 4:29-30).
There are seven things the church of the 21st century must learn from the book of Acts if we are going to make a difference at this time.
God has given the Western church a brief window. It is a small window right now, but the believers must make it a highway for the people (Is. 62:10).
Instead of cowering in the face of political correctness, cultural tolerance and threat of litigation, the church must take seven bold steps.
1. Believers must be baptized with the Holy Spirit and consumed with holy fire.
2. Believers must not allow the fear of man or political correctness to intimidate the church and force it to conform to the culture of the world.
3. Believers must teach and preach the Word of God boldly with signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit confirming the truth of the Word of God.
4. Believers must fill our cities with the truth of God's Word. Lies, distortions and disinformation are filling the minds of the people. We must not compromise or rewrite the absolute truth of God's Word. It is the truth that will set them free.
5. Believers must rejoice when persecution comes. Do not grumble and complain, but celebrate that you are counted worthy and keep on faithfully doing the work of God.
6. Believers must make our church buildings, classroom and worship centers houses of earnest prayer. Fill our living rooms with seasons of earnest prayer.
7. Believers must create holy fear in the heart of city, state and government officials because of the godly authority and spiritual power with which the church is working and the great favor the church has with the people because of the transformed lives.
Look at what happened to the believers that day when the apostles Peter and John and the church prayed for boldness instead of fear and compromise.
"When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. All the believers were of one heart and one soul, and no one said that what he possessed was his own. But to them all things were in common. With great power the apostles testified to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all" (Acts 4:31-33).
I came to salvation and entered ministry during the Jesus People Movement and the charismatic renewal.
The boldness and love of the church was irresistible. They were always talking about Jesus and His power to save and to heal.
Everyone was talking about being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Full Gospel Business Men's luncheons and dinners, Woman's Aglow luncheons, musicians and singers in the park, all of them boldly encouraging people to get saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit.
People were healed, and thousands of lives were transformed. Even TIME magazine featured what was happening across America.
The front cover, June 21, 1971, was The Jesus Revolution and a feature article "Wanted Jesus Christ, Alias: The Messiah The Son of God King of Kings Lord of Lords Prince of Peace, etc."
The full measure of the impact of this move of God can be seen by the fact this same magazine had featured on its front cover April 8, 1966, "Is God Dead?" What a huge impact in just five years.
The power of God was being revealed at that time because the church was being what Jesus declared His church would be in Matthew 16:18-19.
I am not an old guy living in the fog of past glory longing for the good old days.
I fully believe in, and long for, what Almighty God said His church should be today—a church filled with the Holy Spirit, consumed with holy fire, and operating in power and authority that transforms cities.
That should be, and can be, happening right now.
In my church, we have seen men and women who have received hopeless medical diagnosis experience miracles.
- A stage 4 brain tumor disappeared and the surgeon was shocked when he could not find it.
- A woman with stage four cancer amazed her doctors when it disappeared.
- A man was sent home by his doctor to "get his house in order" because his medical condition was hopeless, but God instantly healed him.
- A man with one blind eye, and going blind in the other, was instantly healed.
We have seen hopeless marriages, heading for divorce, healed and dozens of teenagers from unchurched homes coming to salvation. These miracles are not happening by preachers and healing evangelists but by truck drivers, farm workers, school teachers, company employees and high school students.
God wants His church in the 21st century to be like the church in the book of Acts,
"You have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine," said the Jewish leaders.
The church must not compromise. We must wait on the Lord in prayer and fasting until the majority of the people are baptized with the Holy Spirit and operating in the power of God.
We must faithfully preach and teach the uncompromised Word of God and then watch as the God the Word confirms His truth with miracles, signs and wonders.
Dr. F. Dean Hackett has served in full-time Christian ministry since October 1971. He has ministered throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, serving as pastor, conference speaker and mentor. He has planted four churches, assisted in planting 15 others, and currently serves as lead pastor of Living Faith Church in Hermiston, Oregon. Dr. Hackett founded Spirit Life Ministries International in 2001 to facilitate ministries in Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina and to open a training center for workers in those nations. You can find him at F. Dean Hackett - Foundational, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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