God Did That! Acts 3:1-16

It was A.W.Tozer who observed that “if God had taken the Holy Spirit out of the Early Church 95% of their activities would have stopped and everybody would have noticed the difference. But if God took the Holy Spirit out of the Church today 95% of our activities would go on as usual and nobody would notice the difference!”
The Holy Spirit was not only responsible for the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost, but for every part of the ongoing life of the Early Church. It has been said that the Book of the Acts of the Apostles should really be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. It is not so much the story of things the first Christians did but much more the story of the amazing things God did among them. The story of so many elements of the birth and the growth and the life of the Early Church can be summed up in three short words. “God did that!” The Holy Spirit did something interesting. The people around asked, “What happened?” And the first Christians replied simply, “God did that!”
Remember the amazing events on the Day of Pentecost itself.
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
All the disciples were praising God in languages they had never learned. Everybody round about wanted to know what was going on. So Peter explained it to the crowds.
15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘ “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
What was the explanation for all the disciples praising God in languages they had never learned?? GOD DID THAT! With the result that 3000 people were baptized that day. God did that!
But that was only the beginning.
Acts 2 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. … And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
People around saw the changed lives, the signs and wonders. They realised “God did that!” and so they got saved too!
On to Acts 3 and Peter and John brought God’s healing to the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple.
Acts 3 6 Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
God did that!
Acts 3 Peter gave the explanation: 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
And it wasn’t just miracles and healings. God was doing other things, changing lives, giving people the courage to preach about Jesus. Faced with persecution for preaching that Jesus was risen from the dead, the early church held a great big prayer meeting
Acts 4 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
How come the first disciples were so brave about preaching the gospel? What gives persecuted Christians everywhere the courage to be witnesses for Jesus. GOD DID THAT.
In Acts 5, God gave to the apostle Peter supernatural gifts of knowledge and wisdom to know that Ananias and Sapphira were lying about the amount of money they had raised from selling a field? God did that! And this is what happened next in the Early Church.
Acts 5 12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought those who were ill into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing those who were ill and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
Signs and wonders, miracles of healing and deliverance. GOD DID THAT!
There’s a lovely phrase which sums up what we are saying. Soul Survivor used it as the name for their summer camps and there are books with the same title. “Naturally supernatural.” The first Christians were naturally supernatural. The Holy Spirit was at work among them in supernatural ways and all they had to do was point to what was happening and say, “God did that!”
As we look forward into 2022, we can be excited about what God might do among us in the year ahead. What will the Holy Spirit work among us so that we will be able to say, “God did that?”
On the internet I came across the blog of a gentleman who identifies himself as the “Tall Skinny Kiwi”. He wrote a piece which fits exactly into what I am wanting us to think about.
“The Western church over the last hundred and fifty years has conformed to the prevailing culture, Modernism, and its proclamation of the Gospel has become too focussed on the mind, seeing reason and knowledge as pre-eminent over experience and relationship. We too easily view education and teaching as our access point to salvation, and focus on programmes and new models of ministry in our futile attempt to try and manufacture spirituality. We have ended up boiling our faith down to a series of logical and linear arguments that we hope will be convincing to the few that are interested enough to listen.”
Tall Skinny Kiwi then quotes from a book by Neil Cole called Church 3.0
“There was a time when many churches condemned people for seeking a spiritual experience. Imbedded in modernism, Christianity had become mostly about a rational belief system where personal feelings were not to be trusted. A search for experience was seen as abandonment of the stability of truth in favour of pacifying ones’s own feelings. This is unfortunate because it has left many churches lacking any real encounter with the spiritual life that Jesus died to give them. Although we don’t base our faith on experience alone, God questions a faith that lacks experience”.
What these two writers are saying is that the Christian life should be much more than an intellectual exercise. Our encounters with God should spill over beyond our minds into our everyday experience. Or in other words, all of our lives should have at least some events and some experiences where the only explanation we can give will be “God did that!”
He longs to do much more than Our faith has yet allowed,
To thrill us and surprise us With His sovereign power.
Where darkness has been darkest The brightest light will shine,
His invitation comes to us, It’s yours and it is mine.
Come on in and taste the new wine, The wine of the kingdom,
A.W.Tozer put it this way. “The presence is more important than the programme! Whether it was worship or evangelism or fellowship the Early Church never relied on any programme but always gathered together in the greater glory of the Presence of God.” Writing 50 years ago, Tozer gave a prophetic warning of what we sadly see too often in many of the so-called “successful” churches today, “In these days all too often the glory is the centre of attraction.” There is a danger we must make sure we avoid. Tozer continued, “If we make Christ the supreme and constant object of devotion the programme will take its place as a gentle aid!”
If we are seeking the presence of God, he can work among even us by his Holy Spirit. In the Early Church God was not working miracles only through the apostles, but through ordinary Christians.
Acts 8 4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
I have my own experiences of miracles of healings and deliverance I could share. Julie who had dabbled in the occult and was a drug dealer when we were first introduced to her, but who through prayer in the name of Jesus Christ was set free from the control of demons, was baptized and became a radiant Christian. And others who I have seen delivered from demons as we prayed with them. God did that! And there are also experiences of miraculous healing I could share. Geoff Pike sent home from hospital with liver cancer given 48 hours to live, miraculously healed. God did that! I have other stories but the one which is most personal to me is of my own experience of healing of a sporting injury to my back. Miraculous healing. God did that!
Miracles, healing, deliverance. And then time and again in Acts we read of things which were not so much what God did, but what God said. God fulfilling the promise he made through the prophet Joel, which Peter quoted on the day of Pentecost.
Acts 2 17 ‘ “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
Prophecy, dreams and visions. God speaking to people even today. In the past have shared some of my experiences of God speaking directly to me. And in the last 30 years I have had a number of dreams which I believe have come directly from God and which have made a significant impact on many people I have shared them with. God did that!
Miracles. Healing. Deliverance. Dreams and visions and prophesies. We haven’t time to talk about angels or earthquakes leading people out of prison. Remember Eutychus. The young man who fell asleep during one of Paul’s sermons and fell out of a third-storey window to his death. But through Paul God raised him back to life again! GOD DID THAT!
These things may sound incredible and amazing to us. But surely we will all have at least one story to tell of what God has done in our lives. Paul never tired of telling His story. How he was persecuting the church until that time when he encountered the living Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road. GOD DID THAT! A complete turnaround. What could have turned Saul the persecutor of the church into Paul the apostle to the gentiles? Nothing less than an appearance by the Risen Christ Himself. GOD DID THAT. The transforming power of God which saves from the guttermost to the uttermost. We may have a spectacular story of how we became Christians. We may have come to faith gradually. Probably only around one third of all Christians have a dramatic conversion experience. All of us have our own stories to tell and we have put them in our little books “The Difference Jesus Makes” and “More of the Difference Jesus Makes”. If you haven’t had copies of our books do please say, or get in touch and we will be very happy to send them to you. So many stories all with the same messages – GOD DID THAT!
That is what the early church was like in the book of Acts. And I’ve shared just a few of my own experiences. If we really want God to work among us, there are a few things we need to do.
• We must make sure that prayer is indeed at the heart of everything we do.
• We must be prepared to go out on a limb for God, “Attempting great things for
God and expecting great things from God” (William Carey)
• We must each press on to know God better – praying to see Jesus more clearly, and love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly every day.
As we God into 2022 God is going to thrill us and surprise us with the wonderful things he is going to do among us.
Holy Spirit, we welcome You. Holy Spirit, we welcome You.
Please accomplish in me today Some new work of loving grace, I pray;
Unreservedly have Your way. Holy Spirit, we welcome You.
Ephesians 3 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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