The first Christians experienced some unique and powerful things. They saw the Spirit of God moving in a fresh and special way. He was doing many wonders and signs through the apostles. Miracles were regular occurrences. This was an exiting and worshipful time.
The purpose of these miracles was to demonstrate the Spirit’s power and the presence of God’s kingdom on earth. That makes sense, doesn’t it? But, they had a further purpose too. They were to give the apostles an opportunity to explain the gospel of the kingdom of God. The miracle took place, and the apostles explained it. Wonder and awe then came upon the people.
This sign/explanation process is exactly what we find in chapter 3. Peter and John healed a lame beggar at the temple gate. Then Peter preached a sermon (and it was a bold one) in which he explained the gospel and the healing that had just taken place.
This is a straight-forward story of God’s healing grace. The man asked the two apostles for alms at the temple gate. They responded by telling him that they had no money. Then, Peter said, “…what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (3:6)! The man did! He got up and walked. He leapt for joy and praised God. Many recognized him as the man at the gate, “and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (3:10b).
Naturally, the people ran to Peter and John. They needed to know what had happened. They needed to see these two men who had wrought such a change in this man’s life. They wanted to get the skinny on what had taken place. You can imagine the excitement, the chaos. And, Peter was ready to give them what they thought they wanted.
He preached a powerful sermon that emphasized two things: the greatness of Jesus and the necessity of faith and repentance. Take a moment to note the references to each of these points in the sermon. Verses 13, 14, 15, and 17 refer to Jesus’ greatness in six qualities.
He is the divine servant of a covenant keeping God. He is Holy. He is Righteous. He is the Author of Life. He is raised from the dead. And, he is the suffering servant about whom the prophets prophesied.
Notice also verses 16, 19, and 26 where Peter emphasizes the necessity of faith in the “name of Christ” (16) and repentance from sins. True conversion to Christianity is only possible where there is faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ coupled with repentance, a turn from “wickedness” (3:26) and a “turn back” (19) to God through Christ. Both are essential.
Paul wrote to Timothy that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” Acts 3 profits me in all four of these aspects. But, I think it is most helpful in teaching and correcting me. It teaches me that the main purpose of miracles is to demonstrate God’s power so as to draw me and others to himself (Jesus taught the same). And, it teaches and corrects me when I fail to keep faith and repentance in the proper tension and relationship when it comes to my understanding, communication, and living of true biblical Christianity.