Tom: In this, our Understanding the Scriptures segment, we’re in the Book of Acts:5:15. “Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cites roundabout unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks and them which were vexed with unclean spirits and they were healed every one.”
Just jump in anytime you want, Dave.
Dave: Well, Tom, this was a very special time in the history of the church. I don’t think anyone could deny that. Just the shadow of Peter passing would heal. Not just “some” were healed. It says every one was healed. Tom, I’ll never forget —I won’t name the man—one of the so-called faith healers on TV, popular on TBN and so forth. Whoa! He was a little taken aback because they brought up onto the platform a lady in a wheelchair who obviously had a real organic problem. And, well, he bravely prayed for her—laid his hands on her and prayed for her—and then…Tom, I heard this with my own ears: “Wheel this healed lady back to where she was.”
You see, she was “healed,” but she just didn’t realize it. She needed to confess it. Now how we can go on like that. Tom, I often say…and I’m not being critical. I think we need to think seriously about these things. I’ve been in a few very charismatic churches; it’s Sunday morning; they come forward for healing, and the pastor lays his hands on a person. “In the name of Jesus, I command this disease to leave. But they go back to their seat the same as they were before.
And I sometimes think of a young person growing up in a church like that. What is this doing to his faith? He’s heard diseases commanded to depart “in the name of Jesus” over and over and over, and it doesn’t happen. Well, once in awhile someone might be healed, but what about all the times that it doesn’t happen? Now what does that do to their faith? Now, if you want to pray, “Lord, if it be Your will, Oh, God, we ask You in Your mercy and Your grace, would You heal this person?” But to be commanding—well, Peter didn’t even have to command. Just his shadow… And everyone is healed! Obviously, this was a very special time. In fact, it says, “special miracles were wrought by Paul by the hand of God.” They took aprons or handkerchiefs, or whatever, and evil spirits came out and so forth. It was a special time.
Why can’t we get back to that time? That’s the ambition.
Tom: You remember the late John Wimber read these verses and said, “This is where we’re going! Jesus the same yesterday, today, and forever. We need signs and wonders.”
Dave: Right. And he said it takes signs and wonders to validate the gospel. Otherwise, people would not believe. Tom, it didn’t work. John Wimber himself died. Every person who has ever taught that a Christian should never be sick, they got sick and died, or they’re in the process of dying. If we were always healed, then we wouldn’t die. No one would die. But God has something better in mind than perpetuating us in these bodies of suffering and ultimately death. He’s going to give us new bodies — resurrection bodies— without any pain or sin or suffering one day. But people who expect that to happen now in this life, I think they have misunderstood the Bible.
Now, this was marvelous, what was going on. But it was rather special. And no one has been able to duplicate it since. Paul wrote in one of his epistles: “Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick.” Now, apparently Paul was not directed by God to heal Trophimus. And I’m not trying to instill unbelief. I have been healed instantly myself. I have seen others healed instantly that I have prayed for. But it doesn’t happen every time. And I must think of what happened in the early days of Israel: wow! Manna every morning! It never failed. They didn’t have to get down and repent. They didn’t have to get right with God. It never failed. That pillar of cloud by day, that pillar of fire by night led them every day. It wasn’t dependent upon their faithfulness. Because they were unfaithful. They rebelled against God. His judgment came upon them, but that didn’t stop the pillar of cloud or the pillar of fire. It didn’t stop the manna. It didn’t stop the miracle of their shoes and clothes never wearing out. But the time came when God said, “You’re going to have to take the tabernacle out. Remove…” The tabernacle had been in the center of Israel. “Put it on the outside.” Anyone who wants to come to the Lord to inquire of Him, you have to go outside the camp..
There was a time, Tom, when anyone who…we talked about this a week or two ago, I think: anyone who picked up sticks on the Sabbath was stoned. A child badmouthed his parents, it was stoned. Now, Ananias and Sapphira fell down dead in this same chapter.
Tom: In the beginning of the church.
Dave: Right. Now, do we want that happening? You’re not going to have miracles like were happening in the early church without God’s judgment at the same time upon sin in a very severe way.
So, the time came when God had to bring His judgment upon Israel. Look, many of the, you know, leaders on television, Christian television, they’re into homosexuality, they’re into embezzlement, they’re into all kinds of problems, sins. God is not going to bless the church as He did in the early days when these are the conditions. So, Tom, it’s thrilling to read—it really happened—many signs and wonders were wrought among the people at the hands of the apostles. Nobody dares to join himself to them. That’s not the seeker-friendly church today that’s trying to do everything it can to make the unsaved comfortable. Find out what you like, and we’ll give you the music, and so forth. This was a very, very powerful time.
Well, I think it shows us what the church ought to be. It shows us what God wants the church to be. But we need to get back to the Bible, to holy living…
Tom: Dave, what’s really sad here is that some within the church, in order to try to make this happen, turn to methodologies and techniques and formulas, and so on, whether it be word-faith or others. This is doing what seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death, I’m afraid.
Dave: Well, Tom, this was God’s doing. It was powerful and a work of the Holy Spirit. And God can do that at any time that He desires, again. Tom, I do not want to dampen the desire of those who’d like to see this again. It would be wonderful. I would love to see this. But I think we’ve got a lot of repenting to do and getting right with God. There is so much that has gone wrong in the church. So many pastors are trying to build their own empire. So many people are seeking the gifts instead of the Giver; seeking power so that they can, you know, wield God’s power and gather followers for themselves, and that is not going to produce these kinds of miracles.
Tom: Dave, it’s interesting, verse 17: “Then the high priest rose up and all they that were with him, which is the sect of the Sadducees, and were filled with indignation and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in common prison.”
So when God’s people are holy, when they’re doing what’s right, the world reacts, even the religious world.
Dave: In anger. They went flocking to this.