November 2023 | Persecution: The First Martyr—Stephen

Holy Spirit Persuasion

Holy Spirit Persuasion

Dr. Valson Abraham

Often, Christian witness today is based upon apologetics-rational arguments for the faith.  Peter tells us we must always be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15).  

While apologetics has importance and may convince some people to follow Jesus Christ, apologetics is only one way Jesus Christ has given us to convince others to follow Him.  

One problem with apologetics is the possibility for someone to make counter-arguments and excuses.  The arguments may go on forever as people dodge vital issues and try to justify themselves in the face of God.

Acts 3 demonstrates that under the power of the Holy Spirit, given to us through Jesus Christ, our witness can become an irresistible force with which no honest person can argue.  Peter himself demonstrates an additional way to convince others that Jesus Christ alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Acts 3 begins on an average day with Peter and John just before afternoon prayer at the temple in Jerusalem.  Peter and John are two of Jesus’ disciples.  They look no different from anybody else.  Before they met Jesus, they were fishermen from Galilee, considered by the people of Jerusalem as a backward part of the country.  

These two ordinary-looking men confront a lame man.  For years, the lame man was a fixture at the temple gate, eking out a living in the only way he knew-begging.  Most likely, Peter and John had noted the man before, but on this day, the Holy Spirit enabled them to really see him.

They did not just stop to toss him a coin or two, or ask God to bless his day with successful begging.  Instead, they invoked the authority of God to heal the man.  That day, the man, lame from birth, stood and walked for the first time in his life.

A great crowd saw the miracle and gathered around, amazed.  They did not oppose what happened.  Instead, they gazed in wonder.  For years, they all had seen this man, carried in and carried out, unable to move from place to place on his own.  Now, he was running and leaping in joy, praising God.  The healing of the lame man got their immediate attention.  They could not deny what they saw.

Peter and John took this as an opportunity to talk about Jesus.  They quickly told the crowd it was not their own power, but the power of Jesus that healed the man.  A few weeks earlier, Peter continued, some of the people who heard this had called for Jesus’ crucifixion, but they did it in ignorance, Peter said, not knowing who Jesus really was.  Peter told them how the prophets prepared the way for Jesus and for this day.  

This healing was a sign that a time of great restoration had begun that will eventually rid the world of Satan, evil and death.

Because of the miracle they witnessed, the amazed people hung on to Peter’s words.  The healing of the lame man demonstrated the authority of Peter’s message.  No one appears to have reacted in a negative way.  In Acts 4, we read that at least 5,000 men believed in Jesus that day because of what they saw.  These people were open to the work of God, and a demonstration of His power in the name of Jesus convinced them that what Peter and John told them was true.

The people could not deny what happened.  Arguments alone would not have won so many people in such a short time.

This same power of God is available in our own day.  Our evangelists in India, many from non-Christian backgrounds, often experience healing and deliverance which brought them to Christ.  Now, they go into unreached areas doing the same works in the power of Jesus Christ that changed their own lives-works similar to this miraculous healing of the lame man.  

Acts 3 is taking place all over India today-power encounters that convince many that Jesus’ power exceeds the power of their old deities.

Not long ago in the US, a well-known woman of God felt strongly persuaded by the Holy Spirit to attend a New Age convention.  The Holy Spirit instructed her to speak to the participants and ask them why they had come.

She was shocked to discover that almost 80% of the participants of this convention were young people from the churches.  In most cases, they came from families involved with church for generations.  These young people had come to church from their early childhoods.  Many of them knew their Bibles and could quote scriptures.

When she asked them why they came to the convention, she was shocked when they responded again and again, “We see no power of God in the churches.  If God is so powerful that we should put our lives into His hands, why don’t we see more of His power?”

Young people hunger for the power of God to demonstrate and confirm His presence in a troubled and unstable world.  They care nothing about being part of a religious social club.  If they don’t find the creative and stabilizing power of God in the churches, they will look for it elsewhere.  

What a tragedy!  There is no good reason for this to happen apart from our own ignorance and blindness to the clear model we have in the Book of Acts.

Acts 3 is our model wherever we live and work.  Let us not be cowed by the anti-supernatural mindset in many churches that isolate themselves from the world and try to preserve an orderly status quo, but paralyze our influence in the world around us.  This denies Jesus’ own command to be salt and light in the world around us.  We cannot act as salt and light in the workplace and in our schools apart from Jesus’ power working through us.

Let us not say we aren’t good or pious enough to do these kinds of miraculous things.  Only weeks earlier, Peter became a coward and denied Jesus Christ with curses.  Jesus’ death and resurrection removed the curse of that sin, and Peter, after his contrition, bowed in submission to Christ (see John 21), received forgiveness and the power to do the acts that Jesus did.  

Like Peter and John, we have been made clean by the blood of Christ.  Let us not allow false accusations of the enemy keep us from our birthright in Jesus Christ.

Around the world today, people are convinced more by God’s power working through us, less by arguments.  In today’s evil world, why would Jesus abandon His most powerful weapon against Satan?  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

* * * * * * *

Father God, help me to develop a closer walk with you.  Help me to develop good reasons for my faith.  Help me also to demonstrate the power and fruits of Jesus Christ who lives within me in any way you choose. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

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