Saturday, July 09, 2022

2022.07.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 9:31–43

Read Acts 9:31–43

Questions from the Scripture text: What churches, in what areas, had what (Acts 9:31)? What else happened to them? In what two things did they walk? And what else happened to them? Through where was Peter going in Acts 9:32? To where did he come down? Whom did he find there (Acts 9:33)? What was Aeneas’s condition? For how long? Why? Whom did Peter say to Aeneas was doing what to him (Acts 9:34)? What did he tell Aeneas to do? What did Aeneas do? When? Who saw him (Acts 9:35)? And what did they do? Where was there another disciple in (Acts 9:36)? What was her Aramaic name? Into what did it translate in Greek? Of what was she full? But what happened to her in those days (Acts 9:37)? What did they do to her? Where did they lay her? To what city was Lydda near (Acts 9:38)? What had the disciples heard? Whom did they send? What did they ask him not to do? What does Peter do in Acts 9:39? To where did they bring him? Who stood by doing what? What did they show to Peter? How did Peter respond to them (Acts 9:40)? Then what does he do? Then to whom does he turn? And what does he say? And what two things does she do? Now what does he give her in Acts 9:41? And what does he do to her? Whom does he call? What does he present? Where does this become known (Acts 9:42)? With what result? How long does he stay, where, and with whom (Acts 9:43)? 

What is going on in a true church?  Acts 9:31-43 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in a true church, Jesus Himself is personally operating just as He did in His earthly ministry. 

The church expansion is right on schedule. The gospel has gone throughout all Judea and Samaria. Indeed, they have peace, are built up, walk in the fear of the Lord and comfort of the Holy Spirit, and they are multiplied. The gospel has gone where Jesus said it would. And the gospel is having the desired effect. These two verses give a summary list of the marks of a true church. 

How are these marks being produced? By the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Himself. The next two accounts strongly recall two of Jesus’s miracles that are recorded in multiple gospels.

Acts 9:32–35 and Luke 5:17–26. In both accounts, the identity of Jesus is at issue. The Pharisees did not believe that Jesus could forgive sin; indeed, they thought that He had blasphemed by claiming to be God. At Lydda, Peter’s announcement to Aeneas centers upon that Jesus is the Christ—and not only the Christ, but the risen Christ, since He continues to act. Peter does not say that Aeneas is healed in the Name of Christ, but rather that Jesus the Christ Himself heals him.

In both accounts, the instruction is given to the paralytic to arise, and to attend to the bed upon which he had been laying. In both accounts, the impossible command is immediately obeyed. Faith in Jesus, and the claims about Him, are the principle upon which the person acts. In both accounts, a large number of people are amazed, but very specifically in Lydda and the plain of Sharon, we read that they turned to the Lord.

Acts 9:36–42 and Luke 8:49–56. Again, in both accounts there is a dead female. And in both accounts, they have been sent for. In both accounts, weeping is in full swing upon arrival. And in both accounts, everyone else is put outside. In Acts, Peter prays, showing that just as with Aeneas at Lydda it is not he who acts so much as it is Christ Who is acting. 

Again in both accounts, we have almost the exact same command. Mark records that “Little girl, arise” was spoken in Aramaic, “Talitha cumi.” In Acts, we read that she addressed by her Aramaic name, Tabitha, which means that what was said was “Tabitha cumi.” Peter being one of the three disciples present at the bedside of Jairus’s daughter, certainly he remembered and remarked the similarity! Finally, in both accounts, Jesus gives life by means of the command itself.

One great difference is that in Luke, the resurrection was kept secret, while in Acts, it became known throughout the entire region of Joppa and many believed. So the Scripture shows us that it is the same Jesus, but that He is doing a greater work of bringing people to faith (cf. John 14:12). 

So what is really going on in these true churches as described in Acts 9:31? Jesus is at work! May He grant that our churches, too, would be true.

In which of the five marks of a true church in Acts 9:31 could yours most use improvement? Who can do it? How?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for continuing to work in Your church. Grant that we would use only Your means in Your way, because we hope only in Your power, to receive only what You do, only unto Your glory, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP67 “O God, Give Us Your Blessing” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

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