Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Acts 3-4: The Healing of a Crippled Beggar

This Sunday, we're looking at the book of Acts, chapter 3, in which Peter and John heal a crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. This chapter's events actually spill over into chapter 4, which records Peter and John's arrest and questioning by the Sanhedrin as a result of this healing. Claims of miraculous healing are always controversial, it seems, but as I study these two chapters, I see at least six characteristics of a true healing:
  1. Immediate: "instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong." (Acts 3:7)
  2. Complete: "He jumped to his feet and began to walk" (Acts 3:8). "It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing" (Acts 3:16). The beggar did not simply gain increased mobility. He was totally healed of his handicap.
  3. Verifiable: "they recognized him as the man who used to sit begging" (Acts 3:10) and "as you can all see" (Acts 3:16). Anyone could go ask any one of dozens of witnesses, or the man himself, what happened and be told the same story the Bible tells.
  4. Permanent: The man was healed from that day forward, with no relapse in his condition, despite being over 40 years old (Acts 4:22).
  5. Obvious: Even the Sanhedrin, who did not believe in the Apostles' message had to say, "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it" (Acts 4:16).
  6. God-glorifying: "all the people were praising God for what had happened" (Acts 4:21). Peter and John deflected all attention from themselves (v. 3:12) and onto God so that the people praised God for what He had done.
To the extent that all of these characteristics are present when a healing is claimed, to that extent, I think it must be regarded as being a true miracle from God. I believe the converse is also true.

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