Study 7 REVIVAL SCENES AT LYDDA
STUDIES IN ACTS (Chapters 8 -11)
by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Acts 9:32-35
The book of Acts is full of movement and action, and it is inevitable that in our studies we should come up against some important truths over and over again. In this small section there are several important lessons for us to consider.
1. A real Christian will always desire the fellowship of other Christians
In verse 32 we are told that Peter was on a journey, that he visited many places and that he eventually reached Lydda. When he arrived there he sought out “the saints” - that is, the Christians. He wanted to get into his proper environment (compare Acts 4:23). He did not go to the Baptist, the Methodist or the Presbyterian assemblies because in these early days there were no denominations. The important thing for us to emphasise is this: when we are away from home, do we seek out a company of God’s people with whom we can have fellowship, especially on the Lord’s Day? If we really are Christians we shall feel like ‘fish out of water’ among non-believers, because we belong to a different family (Ephesians 3:15); we have a different nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). How was it that there were any Christians in Lydda anyway? Notice:-
2. Just one man in the hands of the Holy Spirit can be a great blessing to any community
There is little doubt that Philip had been to Lydda on his way to Caesarea. In Acts 8:5 we learn that he preached throughout Samaria; then verses 26-39 tell us that he was preaching in the desert of Gaza; but verse 40 tells us that he passed through Azotus and was “preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea”. So, en route to Caesarea he would pass through Lydda, and Philip ”the evangelist” (Acts 21:8) evangelised! That is, he preached the gospel there. People heard the Word, believed, were converted, and a church was formed (Matthew 18:20). As the result of the preaching of the gospel by one man, a church was established. It is amazing what God can and will do with one person who is wholly surrendered to Him!
3. In the Bible Christians are called “saints”
Everyone who has been born again (John 3:3), who has been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and who trusts Him as his Saviour (1 Peter 1:18-19), who is united to Christ (John 15:4-5), is a saint. The word describes our standing; that means we are ”in Christ”. God looks upon us as saints. Look up 1 Corinthians 1:2.
4. In every company of God’s people there are those in great need
In verse 33 we read about a man called Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years because he was paralysed. What a sad situation for him! But there are many such people today who endure physical suffering and weakness. In Acts 9:36-43 we have the sad case of Dorcas who died, and who was then raised to life by God through Peter’s ministry. The Church has a special ministry towards the suffering members of the fellowship. It is not only the privilege of the Pastor but of the whole company of God’s people to minister to those needing help; and there are many practical ways in which we can give encouragement and comfort to those who are in need (1 Corinthians 12:26).
5. The message of the gospel is adequate for spirit, soul and body
It is interesting to note that in verse 34 (KJV) Peter told Aeneas that Jesus Christ could make him “whole”. This word “whole”, which is derived from the word from which we also get the word ‘holy’, reminds us that in the Lord Jesus is everything that we need for time and for eternity. He does not always heal our bodies - there is a ministry of suffering (1 Peter 3:17). But He is sovereign in the matter of His dealings with His children, and it is not always His will to grant physical healing. So how can we say that the gospel message is adequate for the whole man?
- 1. If it is God’s will to heal, He will lead us to wait before Him and trust Him for His healing grace. Many scriptures encourage us to do this (James 5:14-15).
- 2. If he does not heal us He will give us sufficient grace so that we can glorify Him in a ministry of suffering. This will be just as great a miracle as any physical healing. Look up 2 Corinthians 12:8-10.
If anyone reading this is tempted to say, ’But it is always God’s will to heal’, the answer is that the scriptures do not teach this. However, notice the following:-
6. It could well be that if we had greater faith, and more holiness of life, we would see more evidences of the miracle-working power of God
Read verse 34 again and notice that, although Peter had great faith, Aeneas had great faith as well. Very often we are filled with unbelief and ask the question, ‘Can God… ?’ (Psalm 78:19). Of course He can! - (Genesis 18:14); but we also need to ask the question, ‘Will God …?’ - Is it His will to do this?
7. Finally, the putting forth of the Lord’s power always results in the spread of the gospel
We learn this from verse 35. Aeneas became a channel for God’s wonder-working power. Many people came to witness what God had done in the life of this one man, and when they saw it they “turned to the Lord”!