Sermon Summary - From Death to New Life in Christ - Acts 9:31-43
From Death to New Life in Christ - Acts 9:31-43
Jesus is sovereignly working by the Holy Spirit through the church. He shows it with miracles and healings, new birth, and the preaching of the gospel where the dead are brought to life in Christ. Jesus healed the bedridden man Aeneas, raised Dorcas from the dead, and then saved many persons with the gospel.
Recap of what we’ve seen so far in Acts: Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to His apostles and His teaching over 40 days (Acts 1:3), His ascension (Acts 1:9), and then the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (day 50, Acts 2:1,4). That day Peter preaches Christ and 3000 come to believe (Acts 2:41). Within the first few months, Peter and John are arrested and warned not to preach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17). But Peter and John continued to preach Christ, and the church grew to 5000 members (Acts 4:4) at about the 1 year mark. Then Ananias and Sapphira are struck dead for their hypocrisy. Later the apostles are again arrested and beaten, but they come out rejoicing (Acts 5:41). Then about 2 years after the birth of the church, Stephen is martyred and that day began a great persecution of the church (Acts 8:1), led by Saul of Tarsus. Saul is later converted to Jesus on the road to Damascus (~ year 4). 3 years later Paul returns to Jerusalem for two weeks, before plots to kill him force him to escape to his hometown of Tarsus (Acts 9:23-25).
So 7 years in to the life of the church, Luke chooses to tell two stories of miracles wrought through Peter. Why? Many will say that it is so that all of us Christians will imitate what Peter did by performing miracles and raising the dead. But in reality, these are signs and wonders that bring attention to the main point, which is how many come to believe in the Lord (Acts 9:35, 42).
Aeneas, a bedridden man, likely a public beggar, would have been fairly well-known in the town of Lydda (Acts 9:33). The Lord directed Peter to Aeneas, and it is implied that it was so that the attention of the people would be captivated to hear the gospel. Jesus acted by the miracle of new birth, and most of those in Lydda and Sharon were saved (Acts 9:35). The miracle did not bring salvation, but God did through the preaching of the gospel.
Then in the town of Joppa, Tabitha (Acts 9:36), a beloved sister in the Lord who was abounding in the fruit of the Spirit in serving the widows and in generosity, falls sick and dies (Acts 9:37). The disciples sense a spark of hope because Peter is only 10 miles away at Lydda, so they sent for him (Acts 9:38). By the time Peter gets there, Tabitha was likely dead for at least 24 hours. When Peter is in the room, alone with Tabitha’s dead body, he kneels down and he prays (Acts 9:40). What exactly did he pray? It seems that he must have felt led to go to Joppa, and while he is praying, the Lord moved strongly and gave him an overwhelming gift of faith to raise Tabitha from the dead. Then, the greater miracle of the Lord’s power over death occurred, when it became known all over Joppa and many believed in the Lord (Acts 9:42). This greater miracle of God granting faith through the preaching of the gospel is everywhere in Scripture (Cf. Luke 10:22, John 6:44, 65, Rom. 10:13-15, 2 Cor. 4:7).
Back to v. 31 (Acts 9:31), being raised from the dead spiritually creates a new lifestyle, flowing out of intimacy with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This can be summarized as a way of life that is walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.
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