Tom: In this our Understanding the Scriptures segment, we’re in Acts 9, and, Dave, we may finish this chapter this week; we’ll see what happens. But we’re in Acts:9:40: “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise: And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Now, of course, she’d been dead.
Dave: Right, Tom, I was waiting for you to explain that.
Tom: Okay, I was going to get to it.
Dave: Some people would remember from last week, but many wouldn’t. This is Dorcas, or Tabitha, and she has been full of good works, and she died, and the widows are standing around here weeping and showing the garments that she had sewed for them. I remember when I was a boy, the ladies had a Dorcas Sewing Class, they called it.
Tom: Is that a sewing bee?
Dave: No, not a sewing bee. They would get together and they would sew things for the missionaries, for people in foreign countries.But—so she died, and they called for Peter, and here he comes and he puts everybody out. She’s lying there prepared for burial. Peter puts them all out, and he prayed, and then he turns to the body. I don’t think he was just hoping something would happen—we talked about that last week—the Lord gave him the conviction…I mean, the Lord is working through him, and he raised Tabitha (or Dorcas) from the dead. She opens her eyes! Nobody is in there; he put them all out. You know, he’s not trying to show off, not trying to make some big demonstration, but he’s just talking with the Lord, and commands in the name of Jesus this woman to come back from the dead.
Tom: Dave, in James Rutz' book Megashift, which I think the premise of the book is God is doing signs and wonders today that are equivalent to what took place when Jesus walked the roads of Israel, and he believes that there are many resurrections taking place throughout the world.
Dave: Well, Tom, I have no doubt that God can raise the dead any time He wants to, but for even one resurrection to take place, somewhere that is documented, that is true—wow! The newspapers, they would have people running there to verify this; it would be, certainly, on national TV. They would come from all over the world to verify this, that this sort of thing is going on, that there are hundreds of resurrections taking place here and there, you know/ These positive confession people, these so-called miracle workers that Jesus warned us would pretend to be doing miracles in his name that would be so convincing that even the elect might be deceived. They come back from Africa and they talk about this, and so forth, but let’s have a documentation of this. It really isn’t necessary. Tom, what is the point, for example, of going around raising dead people? They’re going to die again. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he died again. The widow’s son at Nain, He raised him from the dead, but he had to die again. It was a demonstration of God’s power. It was, you could say, an endorsement of the ministry of Christ; it was a proof, as the prophets had foretold.
Tom: As well with Peter and others, but these were men who were proclaiming God’s truth. When we compare that to many of the so-called miracle workers that we see out, they’re false teachers, they’re false doctrines. So how could God…I mean, it’s just impossible that God would reinforce, certainly, these individuals.
Dave: But, Tom, what is the purpose of a resurrection from the dead? It’s a sign of God’s power for a particular reason at a particular time. But you see, we have a teaching today that healing is in the atonement. Everything we have is in the atonement, but that doesn’t mean that bodily healing is in the atonement, and we can study that from the Scripture. We can give you the reasons that the Bible gives why this is not going to go on forever.
Okay, look, Tom, let’s say that I have the power to raise the dead, but I don’t have the power to give them everlasting physical life, and that is not God’s intention. So I can go around raising all kinds of dead people, but they’re going to die again. “Well, yeah, but you shouldn’t ever get sick, healing is in the atonement…” Tom, every person that has ever taught that is either dead or is in the process of dying. There is no indication from history, from anywhere—give me an example showing that Christians live any longer than anybody else. Because God’s judgment upon sin is death, and we’re sinners. This is a sinful world. He has something better for us, and that is, one day, we will be resurrected. To be resurrected you have to die. We’re not talking about, “I’m going to resurrect somebody now. I’ve got this great power, and I can go into cemeteries and raise the dead,” and so forth. Jesus didn’t do that,. He didn’t raise all the dead. He raised a few people from the dead, as did Peter, only as a demonstration of God’s power. But the resurrection is going to happen one day at the Rapture when all of the Christians who have died up to that point will be raised from the dead.
“Healings—you shouldn’t ever get sick…” Well, Tom, I can tell you (and I won’t name them) some of these people who teach that, they’ve gone into the hospital for secret operations, and so forth.
No, this is not God’s purpose. God’s purpose and His plan is He’s going to give us new bodies, glorified bodies, like the body of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. So can God raise the dead? Does he heal the sick? Yes, He can, but this is not going to be general demonstration—and all the dead will be raised, all the sick will be healed, you’ll never get sick… “Any time you get sick that proves that you don’t have faith,” and so forth, “you should be healed.” This is a teaching, Tom, that has shattered the faith of many people because they haven’t been able to make it work, and just simple logic would tell you.
I don’t notice that—Kathryn Kuhlman is dead. All the people, the so-called great faith healers, they were either dead or they’re dying. So let’s trust the Lord to the fulfillment of His will and His purpose in our lives as long as He allows us to live. It’s by His grace and mercy that I have lived as long as I have, that He gives me the health and strength even to speak a word for Him.
But, Tom, this is a teaching that has really destroyed the faith of a lot of people. And I’m not trying to come down hard on these men and women, but let’s be reasonable, let’s be logical, and let’s be biblical about it.
So anyway, he gives her his hand—in v. 41 he lifts her up. He calls them in now, the saints and the widows, and presented her alive. Now, Tom, I find v. 42 rather interesting.
Tom: Well, I was just going to ask you about v. 42, because this would be a verse that they would argue the points that you made: “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.” So what about today? Can’t many, because of these signs and wonders, can many believe in the Lord?
Dave: Yes, if we demonstrate it. They knew they had seen her die, they had laid her out for burial, and now she’s alive. There was no question about it. But for some faith healer who’s been to Africa and saying, “Well, yeah, there were several people raised from the dead,” and so forth…well, but give me the evidence. That would have just shocked all the people in that area. That would have been a demonstration that they couldn’t escape.But, Tom, the reason I said it’s interesting because contrast it with v. 35. Now, in v. 35, we have the results of a man named Aeneas. He had kept to his bed eight years and was sick of the palsy, and Peter heals him. Notice what v. 35 says: “And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.” Now, this is a much greater miracle down here in v. 42, resurrection from the dead, and it says everybody knows it, but it doesn’t say “all believed,” it says “many believed.” So there again we have a demonstration of the fact that it’s my heart—it’s not how great the miracle is, it’s not miracles that are going to cause people to really turn to the Lord. The Israelis, the Jews, who were taken out of Egypt and so forth, they were the most rebellious people that ever lived. This is what the Bible says; this is not my word, and yet no one saw miracles like they saw them.
So yes, it’s a great demonstration of God’s power, it causes many to believe, and then we get down to earth again—v. 43: “And it came to pass, that he [that is, Peter] tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.” And that brings us to chapter 10, where we will find the gospel first preached to the Gentiles. Apparently these must have been Jewish people in these days in chapter 9 up to this point who came to faith in Christ, because it’s the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles that we read of in the next chapter.