What an amazing level of power we are seeing at work here. Luke does say that it was at the hands of the apostles that these miracles were done, which seems to mean that most believers werent yet functioning at this high level. Even among the apostles, Peter seems to be exceptional (v15). If we remember that he was the disciple who had the courage to try and fail and give wrong answers, we shouldnt be surprised that hes now the one who can most authentically do what Jesus did. Yet, this level of power wasnt just an apostolic gift, they were able to teach others and pass this ministry on to another generation who functioned just as powerfully as they did. Stephen (Ac 6:8) and Philip, the evangelist (Ac 6:5; 8:4-8, 13), are examples of this.
Is it realistic for us to expect to have such power today? Well, we already do, its just not as widespread or consistent. Were seeing miracles now on a level with those we see there, but we still see far too many go away unhealed. In many cases, there is partial relief, in others there begins a gradual improvement. So, its not that we have today none of the Spirits power, its that we dont have enough, often enough.
DBS (Tues, Weds)
Faith and Power
Before I talk about healing, I want to talk about faith and power. There are undoubtedly people sitting in front of me, or listening, that have done everything they know to do to receive healing for themselves or for others they love, and the healing did not, or has not, come. For them (us) this is a very painful subject.
When we talk about healing the emphasis always seems to be placed on an individuals faith, particularly the faith of the person who is ill. Theyre told they must have faith to be healed (and yes, there are passages that challenge us to believe), but what we observe in the Book of Acts is a remarkable level of power which appears to be resting on the entire church, not just certain individuals. And we see the widespread healing of people, who must have come with very different amounts of faith. Surely not every person lining the streets along Peters path had great faith. What seems to be at work here, and has emerged at times over the course of church history, is an environment in which great power is present, and in that environment all sorts of people are touched, even unbelievers, even bystanders.
On occasion Ive had people ask me, after the death of a loved one, Pastor, what did I do wrong? They usually assume they didnt have enough faith. What Ive said to some is, Look, if we have to identify the failure, I would say we as a church (myself included) lack the level of power needed. If we had developed to the point where a strong anointing was present, healing would come much more easily.
Power in community
Ours is a collective faith. Our Lord intended us to function with love for one another, in unity with a common purpose, and to believe together for His miracles. When we begin to think that way then we realize that each one of us brings faith with us to our gatherings. I learn to prepare myself before we gather because I know there is spiritual work to do when the church assembles. We learn to tend our own heart because we understand the impact it has on others. By being in the Spirit I can help you receive from God. I dont worship passively, I press in because this is an opportunity for the Spirit to come in power. In other words, the focus shifts from, Do you have enough faith? to do we have enough power?
At our Foursquare convention this past June, in Phoenix, one of our worship leaders was healed, not because she had worked herself into some state of great faith, but because much power was present and she obeyed what the Lord spoke to her. Lets listen as she tells us what happened.
What are we learning?
The problem is the skills and insights the apostles learned from Jesus were lost by the church nearly 2,000 years ago, and now were left to try to rediscover them through trial and error. We know we still have a lot to learn, but because we have a sizeable number of humble and faithful people who are willing to learn this way, God has been able to teach us some important lessons. Here are a few:
1) Stay humble, never stop learning.
2) Prepare yourself before praying. Alone and together press into the Spirit through confession, praise and worship.
3) Watch for His presence.
4) Listen and watch for His direction in each ministry situation.
5) Follow instructions.
6) Lay on hands. Notice the phrase the hands of the apostles (v12).
7) Dont use formulas, discern each persons need.
8) Pray with authority. Dont be afraid of the illness or of an unclean spirit.
9) Be confident of Gods desire to heal and deliver when you come to Him through Jesus (Ac 3:16).
Before you pray, work through the issue of is healing this person Gods will
10) Focus on receiving from Him, not on trying to convince Him to heal.
11) Watch for the Spirit working on that person, dont be in a hurry, give Him time to minister.
12) When possible, minister as a team. One person gets one thing, another gets something else.
This passage calls us to change the way we think about ourselves, to realize how much we need each other and how much we can do when we minister together. It calls each of us to recognize the contribution we can make and that we should take ourselves seriously as ministers of His power. And it reminds us His power goes with us every time we walk back into the world. Were not alone anymore, were part of something bigger than ourselves. His hand is on all of us. His power rests on the whole community of His people
on His kingdom.
1) Have you ever been healed? Where were you when that happened?
2) Have you ever layed hands on someone for healing? How did you pray when you did this?
3) Describe a time when you felt the power of God intensely.