Today is part 10 of a 10 part series on the Holy Spirit called "Catch the Wind" covering the first five chapters of the book of Acts.
You've probably been hearing about hurricane Isabel. Did you hear about the storm damage in Swan Quarter, North Carolina on September 17, 1876? I see you didn't hear about that. Let me tell you about it. You wanted to hear about that, didn't you.
There was a tremendous storm, and I think the town has disappeared now, but I want to tell you what happened that day. The people wanted to erect a church and they found a beautiful piece of land. It was on a hill and just perfect for a church. And so they approached the owner and said, "Would you sell us this land so that we can build a church?" And the owner said, "No, we've got other plans for that land." So the church members finally said, "Well, we're going to build a church. We'll just built it somewhere else we guess." So they built it as close as they could to the desire property. But it was not in the ideal place they had prayed about. Two years later on September 17, 1876, a tremendous storm came up and it was so fantastic, the winds were so storm that they picked the whole church building up and moved it three hundred feet and set it down exactly on the center of this nice beautiful land that the church had wanted. This actually happened in Swan Quarter, North Carolina, the exact plot the worshipers had prayed for. The owners saw that this must be God's will so they said, "We'll sell it to you. Your church is already there so we'll sell it to you." The power of the wind moved the whole church 300 feet. Today it is called the Church of Providence.
I want to tell you that again, the Wind desire to move entire churches. The Wind wants to move this congregation. There is power in the Wind. If we can just get this Power, what a great thing this will be. I want to hook you up with the power of the Wind. So, let's come to Acts 5.
1) The early church had caught the Wind and It was a growing Wind. The early church was a Growing Church. Acts 5:12, clear to the end of the chapter. That's our section for today. Acts 5:12. The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. Solomon's Porch, that's where they met. Verse 14 continues on: Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. on a regular basis.
You might think it strange to meet on a porch. Well, this porch went all the way around the temple. It was composed of twenty- seven ornate columns in double rows where they met. The ceiling of the porch was a cedar, rich cedar wood that overlooked a beautiful valley. And there near that luxurious temple in this beautiful location is where God's early church met.
Acts 5:14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. Every day many were added. And that's good. God's church needs to be a growing church. Not one day went by without someone joining. The Seventh-day Adventist average now is almost 2000 new Christians every day. We are part of a growing church. If we could see the work as Heaven sees it we would praise God.
2) Not only was the new church a growing church, the early church had caught the wind and it was miraculous church, a miraculous Wind that they caught. There were lots of miracles, signs and wonders everywhere.
Acts 5:15, 16. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
Do you know what this sounds like? This sounds like an instant replay of the gospel when Jesus was on the earth. The same thing that Jesus did, the apostles were doing. And that's what had been promised. They caught the Wind and the Wind was a miraculous Wind. Why so many miracles? God was certifying that His blessing was now upon the Christian church.
Now, what about Peters Shadow? Did Peter's shadow heal anybody? It sort of sounds like touching the hem of Jesus' robe. Remember the lady who touched the hem of Jesus' robe. Did Jesus' robe heal her? Did Peter's shadow heal anybody? No. Everybody that's ever been healed has been healed by faith in Jesus Christ. Now a shadow can't heal at all, any more than a hem on a robe. I see these fake TV healers. Have you ever watched that type of stuff? You know, I hate to watch those types of things. Whenever I see them, I look at that and I think, "You know, it just seems so counterfeit. It seems much like showmanship, or deceit. And, there it is on TV. They will call people to come up and they will speak with a loud voice, to heal and they will knock them in the head and the people forget all about their aches and pains. And they walk out of there "healed," glad to get away, I guess. I don't know how it works. You know, if those fake TV healers really wanted to impress people, why don't they go down here to Erlanger Hospital, or Memorial Hospital or some of these hospitals and go into ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and all those people that are hanging in the balance, between life and death, and just heal them all. And they could all jump up and run out in their hospital gowns with all the hoses and pipes. Can you imagine a scene like that? That's what they ought to do.
And you contrast these fake healers with what you see in the Bible; somebody reaching out and touching the robe of Jesus, somebody being healed by the voice of Jesus, by the touch of Jesus, by the shadow of Peter just passing by. A gentle thing. That's what I see in the Bible. A gentle touch on an inflicted body.
3) When you catch the wind you may experience resistance. In Acts 5:18, They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. The disciples disobeyed the law that said, "There should be no witnessing in Jerusalem about Christ." "We don't believe in Him, and certainly on the temple grounds, this is a non-witnessing law. We have a lot of groups that just want to control people, they don't want them to be out giving Bible studies. It is inconceivable that the religious leaders were agitated because the suffering sick were made well. Can you believe that they were sad because somebody was being helped? That shows how twisted they were. They had lost their purpose and in wanting to kill the disciples they were now serving Satan. They deserved the coming Roman destruction of 70 AD.
4) When you catch the wind you experience release from the shackles of evil. Acts 5:19. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. Jail bars cannot contain the power of the Holy Spirit any more than your pocket could hold a cup of water. It just won't hold it. Jail bars are helpless against Christians. During the night a council met up in heaven and a decision was made to dispatch a special Angel for a rescue operation of those twelve disciples. The angel led them directly through the band of soldiers guarding the prison (See EG White, Acts of the Apostles, p.80-81.).
There is something interesting here. The Sadducees did not believe in Angels, so, what does God send? An Angel! Maybe that's why they were Sad-U-See. All 12 disciples were behind bars. Heaven enjoys liberating us poor sinners from whatever we want to be unshackled from. Tobacco, drugs, evil habits, anything. From jail bars to candy bars. God will help you get unshackled for whatever it is that's got you.
Is something barring you from a dynamic Christian Life that you want to experience? Is it your job, your kids (If these teenagers would just grow up. They are consuming all of my time. I can't study the bible like I want to.), your depression, your spouse? Whatever obstacles are preventing you from success can be removed when the Power of God comes into your heart.
5) When you catch the Wind you experience the power of the wind! Acts 5:20. "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life." They had new life. They had new power in their life.
Acts 5:21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. Now, let me ask you a question: Why did the Angel set them free? Was it so they could go home? No. He released them for a purpose: To empower them to do God's bidding, preaching again, in the same place, the same gospel. Don't change a thing. You just keep doing it. Why does God heal you from disease? Not to use your strength to sin, but to do His will. That's why He heals anybody. If you have been under the throes of some terrible disease, and God releases you from that, He gives you a miracle, He saves you from that. He doesn't save you so that you can go beck and do the things you did; the same old life again. He wants you to go out and preach His gospel and help to finish the work so we can all go home. And that's what you want; to preach with power the new life in Jesus Christ.
If you want a brand new experience each day, then you need Jesus life infused into your life. John 1:4. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. Jesus is the light of the Christian. You have seen dull dead Christians, Why are they so dark and lifeless? Their light went out.
This past week, I think it was Wednesday, I was sitting in my office and I was meeting with one of our three pastors-in- training. Southern Adventist University has assigned three delightful young men who are training to be pastors, and they are assigned to our church to learn what they can from us. We're delighted to do that. So, I was sitting there, meeting with one of the young men. One of his assignments is to give Bible studies. That's what they want him to be trained at this year. I realized that Dr. Carlos Martin was very adamant that we need to find a Bible study for these young men to give, hopefully someone who is not a Seventh-day Adventist, hopefully somebody who is an adult. So I prayed with Jeff. I said to the Lord, "... We need some help here because I don't have a Bible study for Jeff to give. If You could help and send somebody." That was the gist of part of the prayer. And he left, and about two hours later in walked a couple. I get to talking with them, and the young man said, "You know, I would like to be a Seventh-day Adventist. I would like to be baptized. I'm a Baptist." And I thought, "Lord, You answered the prayer in two hours!' It was so marvelous. I was experiencing the power of the Wind. It was just so awesome that God had met our need. I called Jeff up and his girl fiance, and I said, "Jeff, we've got somebody for you." It was so thrilling! Experience the power of the Wind.
The disciples were liberated that they might preach the power of God. And they were preaching with the power of the wind. The jail bars were still there, the doors were still locked tight and the guards still stood at the jail door but the disciples were out preaching the gospel.
Come to Acts 5:28. They were questioned by the high priest. "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood." I think that's a lie. They were already guilty of Jesus blood. Matthew 27:25. The people answered, "Let His blood be upon us and our children." You know, The disciples didn't want to bring Jesus' condemning blood upon their heads, they wanted to bring Jesus' saving blood into their hearts. That's what they wanted to do. The Sanhedrin should have realized: "You know, we are not fighting 12 ex-fishermen. We are fighting heaven. And we're going to lose." They didn't realize that at all.
Acts 5:29, 30. Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!" The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead--whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree." That's an amazing statement, isn't it. They didn't like that. They were condemned already. God must be first but not by force.
They were right out there preaching the gospel of Jesus again. Acts 5:32. "We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." Now, who does God give the Holy Spirit to? Obedient Christians.
I was meeting one day, in fact, several times in my ministry I was meeting with a man who was drunk. I said, "Sir, I would like to invite you to come to church sometime and give your heart to the Lord." He said, "Oh, I'm already a Christian. I was saved years ago. I've been born again. I've got the spirit." Well, he had the spirit, all right, I don't know if it was mineral spirits or what. Now he had the spirit. You know, we need to be cautious about things like that. God gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. Not that the obedience earns it, so we need to recognize that.
The Sanhedrin were very upset. Notice what they decided to do. Acts 5:33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. The Greek word for furious means they were "torn apart" by their anger. They were livid. They wanted murder. The worst possible scenario had happened to the Sanhedrin. These Jesus people were proving to be unstoppable. "How are we going to stop them? I guess we are going to have to kill all twelve of the disciples, then maybe that will stop it." That would have been a real possibility, wouldn't it? With all the leaders dead, probably the early church may have floundered. We don't know. Satan would have triumphed. The early church needed help at that moment, and needed it fast.
You can notice how quickly God sent help from a very unlikely source. One of the Pharisees came to the rescue, his name was Gamaliel. Gamaliel was the president of the seminary. He was a master teacher, a rabbi who was respected by all people. He was the person who was in charge of all the young Pharisees in training. Saul of Tarsus was one of his trainees.
Acts 5:34 - 39. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Maybe if you get them out of sight you can calm down. Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." That's pretty good wisdom, isn't it. Every community, every church needs a Gamaliel, somebody with a level head, somebody with a lot of wisdom.
And these people respected him and this respected man rescued the Christian church. God had sent him for such a purpose. All twelve of the disciples were facing death. And God saved them. God still helps. When the bills get so high that you are just about wiped out somehow we don't starve. God has rescued all of us at one time or another. Maybe you were just about to have a head on collision that would wipe your entire family out and God stepped in. God even helps us out of predicaments that we have brought upon ourselves. We need to give God more credit for some of the things that happen to us. God still helps His people out of their predicaments.
What should you do when you run across someone whose actions or beliefs are different than what you think they ought to be? Don't try to kill them. Let them go. If it is of God you can't stop it. If not it will come to an end all by itself.
These Jews, honestly, these were the ones whose lives were hanging in the balance. Remember what happened in 70 AD? Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and their nation was never again the same. This is one of the last chances the Jews had to repent before their probation was over. Soon Stephen would be stoned and their doom sealed. They should have gone out to Solomon's porch and listened with their heart to the preaching of the gospel. They should have reversed their stand against Christ. They should have known that they were contending with the Holy Spirit and not just with twelve fishermen. But they were clueless and stayed in their cloistered temple.
God was officially changing His dealings with man. No longer was Israel an exclusive target for God's blessing. Now, they were no longer that target. The old order was over. God was going to give His blessing to everybody whoever would call upon His name. Now the Christian church was taking the place of the nation of Israel, the receptacle of His blessings and the carrier of His gospel. They missed the significance of the torn curtain in the temple. They should have recognized that it was over.
Acts 5:40. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The disciples were hurt. They were hurting bad. Have you ever been flogged? They were allowed to flog them Thirty-nine (Deuteronomy 25:3). And many people died from thirty-nine stripes. All twelve of the disciples, as far as I could see, were flogged. And they went out of there with their back bleeding.
And were they upset? The Bible says in Acts 5:41, The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (Jesus' name). These were gracious people. They went out and started preaching Jesus again. These Sanhedrin could no more keep the disciples quiet than you can keep you dog from barking when the doorbell rings. That dog is going to bark.
In one of Wordsworth's poems he tells of a bird carried that was carried by a powerful wind away from Norway. The bird tried and struggled to get back to the land. The wind was stronger than the bird, and it began to carry the bird away from the coast of Norway, out into the midst of the storm. But the gale was too strong. Finally the bird yielded to the wind and instead of being carried to destruction it was borne by the wind to the warm shores of England to green meadows and forests. You know, sometimes I think we need to yield to the Wind. We need to let that Wind carry us. The disciples yielded to the Wind, and it carried them to success.
The early church got of to a good start. Acts 5:42. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. They were now not the invisible twelve; they were the invincible twelve.
They had caught the Wind and nothing could stop them. The best thing that could happen to the McDonald Road Church is that we catch the Wind. God wants you to catch the Wind. The wind is blowing. We are in the time of the Latter Rain. Is the Wind blowing? Yes it is. Do you have the Wind? Well, that depends on your relationship with Jesus. If you can catch the Wind, you can be carried to success in God's sight. Don't fight it, surrender to it! Do you long to experience their Zeal and Joy? If you invite the Holy Spirit to fall on you as it fell on them you will have what they had. You can catch the Wind!
Sources for this series: Acts of the Apostles, by Ellen G. White, Pacific Press Publishing Association. The Communicator's Commentary, by Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Word Books, Waco, TX 1983. Exploring Acts, by John Phillips, Kregel Publications Grand Rapids, MI, 1986. Holman New Testament Commentary, by Max Anders and Kenneth O. Gangel, Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1998. Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, the Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, DC. Hymn of Praise: #250, O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing Scripture: Acts 5:29-32 Hymn of Response: #619, Lead on O King Eternal 030920#541
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last updated 9/22/2003 by Bob Beckett.