Acts 9: Part 2- The Cure for Death
No guilt in life; no fear of death- That s the Power of Christ in me! The chorus of a popular praise song expresses the victory that our Lord Jesus provides each believer with- the victory over death- the cure for death. Death is to many something to be greatly feared and a mystery that they cannot seem to fathom. But as Christians we have the only cure for death. Listen to what Paul writes to Timothy from a prison dungeon awaiting death. But it has now been revealed through the appearance of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has DESTROYED DEATH, and has BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY through the Gospel. (2 Timothy 1:10)
And Paul writes in I Corinthians 15: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He has given us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! From the very beginning God has instructed us that the wages of sin is death. But as Paul tells us in Romans 8- Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.
Now we know at Calvary the blood of the Lamb, ( the Lord Jesus) satisfied God the Father. For if by the trespass one man,(Adam) death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive Gods abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in the life through the one man, Jesus Christ. For just as through the disobedience of one man ( Adam), the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man( Jesus Christ), the many will be made righteous. ( Romans 8: 17, 19) This was always Gods cure for death.
With this in mind let us look at these two miracles performed through Peter at the end of Acts 9. We will see that death takes on many forms besides just the end of physical life. And we must at the same time remember, these miracles are a spiritual picture of how the Lord Jesus wants to bring life to all areas of our lives so that we might experience the fullness of God in our life. The Spirit Controlled Life. For wherever we do not allow the Life of Christ to rule in our lives- there is spiritual death there and it takes many forms.
My intention is not to take away from the physical miracles that occur here- but to look at the spiritual implications of these two miracles and the cure for death that the life of Christ brings as He abolishes death and brings life and immortality and light to dead, dark areas we each have in our lives.
The first miracle is a healing of paralytic named Aeneas in Lydda. He had been paralyzed, unable to walk for 8 years. Peter says to him: Jesus Christ heals you- ( Makes you whole KJV) Arise and make up your bed.
Here is a man physically paralyzed. There is no feeling or sensation in his lower body. He cannot walk. This is not the life God intended for him or us to have. In Scripture- walk is sometimes used as a description for how we are to live- i.e., walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all our sins. (I John1) We are also told in other places to walk in love, to walk not in darkness, etc. So walking is a synonym for living. Here is a physical picture of a life not being lived how God intended it to be lived.
Have you ever come to a place in your life- career, schooling, a relationship, ministry, church where you just no longer had any feeling or motivation to continue on. Or perhaps there is something you want to do- but cannot ever seem to get started ? It is like you are paralyzed. You cannot find within yourself- the will and the energy to do what needs to be done. You see there are all kinds of deaths- the death of a dream, the death of a relationship, the death of a ministry. Someone may have criticized your work, or laughed at your dream, killing your desires. Perhaps someones words were like a dagger to your heart and you gave up your desire your dream. A part of you died and it seems there is no way to revive it.
But notice who it is that makes you whole- Jesus Christ. It is in His Name that Peter tells the man to rise for it is Jesus who makes us whole. You cannot depend on your own strength to be made whole. It is no longer you- but Christ who lives in you. And to keep Him from an area of your life is to keep life from a dead area, to live a part of your life in darkness that only He can bring light to- abolishing death. The only death that we should appropriate is the death of self and exchange it for the life of Christ. Paul explains it this way in Galatians 2:20: I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; YET NOT I, BUT CHRIST LIVETH IN ME; and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
This is, I believe, the spiritual implication of this healing, this miracle of a paralyzed man being made whole. It shows us the cure for the various forms death can take in our lives. A place where we have lost that feeling, that desire to be all that the Lord created us to be. It shows us that the Lord Jesus has the cure for the type of death that paralyzes our will.
Has God shown you an area in your life where His revealed will is not being done? Where you have given up on it ever being done? Then realize you are depending on your own resources- not His. You see, Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior. He cannot save you in an area you will not allow Him to be Lord. It is a classic problem- and Paul addressed it his letter to the church at Galatia. After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? ( Galatians 3:3)
The next miracle performed by the Lord Jesus through Peter is the restoration of life of a woman named Tabitha or Dorcas. Again we will look beyond the physical miracle as great as it was to the spiritual implications of this miracle.
Notice what is said of this woman, Dorcas: who was always doing good and helping the poor. Here is a woman who is always doing good- a ministry of love and unselfish giving. And one day she dies, rather suddenly it would seem. A ministry interrupted by death. Sometimes when a ministry is beginning to flourish, to blossom and bear fruit something unexpected can interrupt the progress of this spiritual life. It can cause it to die, as surely as an unexpected cold snap or bag worms can kill the blooms of your azaleas or dogwood tree.
When this happens in the life of a person, they can lose their zeal and eagerness for the work the Lord had for them. Instead of a burning heart, their hearts turn cold . They grow cold and indifferent, the very picture of death. They are in that area of their life- dead. Death always represents separation. Physical death is separation from life- a no-longer beating, heart, no flow of blood bringing life to tissue, no brain activity. Eternal death is eternal separation from God. A spiritual death separates one from the work of the Holy Spirit who enabled and empowered the work in a believers life. Only the Lord Jesus can heal a dead spirit and raise it to life again. He can heal you from whatever caused that death. He can not only cause it to blossom again; He can also restore what the canker worm consumed.
In fact sometimes- the greatest works come to a ministry that has died and then has life breathed back into by the One who abolishes death and brings life. God is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance.
Now the break from chapter 9 to chapter 10 is an unfortunate interruption in the account of a three part healing. For just as Aeneas was healed and had life restored to his dead limbs, and Dorcas had life restored after her death, Peter encounters a healing in his spirit. It is an area in which Peter has not allowed the Spirit of Life to deal with an area of his heart that is occupied with the cold indifference of prejudice. It is an area where heritage and upbringing have blinded him to the light of Gods love, and wherever God is not present- there is death. So Peter needs a miracle of healing for a dead zone in his spiritual life. An area of darkness the Lord will shine his light in and abolish the cancer of bigotry.
We are now introduced to a man named Cornelius. He is a Roman centurion, a military man in charge of the Italian Regiment. But we are also told he is a devout man, God-fearing who gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. He is as Gentile as Gentile can get. He is a part of the Roman Empire that holds the land of Israel under its control. Whereas, the Gospel has spread to the Samaritans already with some reluctance, it had not at this time spread to a Gentile. ( The Samaritans were half-Jews and shared common ancestry with the Jews.)
Now as we study this account, you will realize this man, Cornelius is not saved. Yet he is a devout, generous, moral, praying, God-fearing man. I want us to notice how careful the Holy Spirit is to advise of this mans goodness and his belief in God. Whereas, being good and moral will not get one into heaven- they do indicate in this mans life a hunger for God. Remember the Lord Jesus said blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. ( Matthew 5)
Many people, especially non-Christians ask the question: What about the person who has never heard of Jesus Christ? What about the man who lives up to the light he has, and is faithful to what he knows, but has never heard of Jesus Christ? What happens to that person? Here is the story to answer those questions. Here is a story of a man who acts upon the light he has and is obedient to the light he has. God will take it upon Himself to see that this person receives more light to lead him or her to the place where they can come to know Jesus Christ.
In the case of Cornelius, God sends an angel to tell Cornelius where to find this man, called Peter, who can give him the light he needs. Listen to what Hebrews 11:6 tells us: Without faith it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him Do you see it? There are only two qualifications: believe that God exists and that He will reward those who diligently seek Him. That means anyone- who believes that God exists and honestly and diligently seeks to find Him- will receive the light they need to believe. God accepts those who fear Him and do what is right. Also notice something else: God listens to the prayers of the unsaved person who is honestly seeking Him.
Now we will deal with Peters healing for the dead zone in his life. For God is no respecter of persons and He hates racial prejudice and bigotry. He always wanted the descendants of Abraham to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. Peter is staying at the home of Simon the Tanner. At noon the following day as Corneliuss servants are coming to get Peter as per the angels instruction, Peter went up on the roof to pray at noon.
Listen to this account: He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, Peter fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kind of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice came from heaven and told him.Get up Peter. Kill and eat. Surely not, Lord, Peter replied. I have never eaten anything impure or unclean. The voice from heaven spoke to him a second time and said: Do not call anything unclean or impure that God has made clean. This happened three times.
Well as Gomer Pyle would say..Surprise, Surprise. There are two surprises: first- Peter is a legalistic bigot. Legalist can always be recognized for their boasting about what they DO NOT DO. Example: I do not smoke, I do not drink, I do not dance, I do not go to movies, you get the picture. And they look down on anyone who does those things. The legalists is proud of the things they do not do. But do you know what Jesus said we ( His disciples) should be known by? Not by what we do not do but by what we do- which is to love one another as He loved us- by this would men know we are His disciples.
The world is not impressed by our goody-two-shoes behavior. They are impressed if we are warm, friendly accepting people filled with joy the joy of life and obvious peace we have in our lives. Our willingness to help another regardless of their lifestyle or condition.
The second surprise is that what God calls clean- we are not to call unclean. We, like Peter, sometimes have prejudices in our lives that if we do not let the Lord cure us of it will create stumbling blocks. Sometimes if we do not let the Lord search our heart we will look upon another persons particular sin or evil in their life with a prejudice that causes us to not treat them as God has treated them. To consider unclean what God has made clean. Sometimes this can be an individual who cannot forgive themselves of something they have done.
When we do not accept as cleansed, what God has said He has cleansed- we call God a liar.
Peter is about to learn this lesson. He is going to be cured. An area of his life where he had no feeling, was paralyzed is about to be brought to life. A dead zone in which he was cold and indifferent is going to be brought to life and feelings and sensation restored.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 1: And He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ to be put in effect when the times have reached their fulfillment to bring ALL THINGS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH TOGETHER UNDER ONE HEAD EVEN IN CHRIST. All together. This is what God wants. Break down those middle- separating walls of prejudice.
Jesus said: He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters. (Matthew 12:30)
Is there an area in your life where the life of Christ does not reign? If so it is an area of death and darkness. But it is Christ Jesus who destroys death and brings life and immortality to light through the gospel.
The Lord brings light into darkness. He is the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not, as though they were. Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old- and Sarahs womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief, regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he promised. ( Romans 4)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? ( John 11)
You see its about a simple message and do you really believe. Its still the Cross. Its still the Gospel that saves mens souls.
It is about the One who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the GOSPEL.