Friday, April 3, 2009

THESE MEN HAVE BEEN WITH JESUS

In Acts 3, we find Peter and John going to the temple to worship. Just outside the temple gate sat a beggar who had been crippled from birth. This man had never walked a step in his life. When he saw Peter and John, he asked them for alms. Peter answered him, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee” (Acts 3:6). Peter then prayed for the beggar, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth., rise up and walk” (3:6). Instantly, the man was healed! In utter joy, he began running through the temple, jumping and shouting, “Jesus healed me!”

 

Everyone in the temple marveled at the sight because they recognized the man as the cripple. When Peter and John saw the crowds gathering, they began preaching Christ. Thousands were saved. Yet, while Peter and John were preaching, the synagogue rulers “came upon them, being grieved” (Acts 4:1–2). These high and mighty men asked the disciples, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” (4:7). Peter was emboldened by the Holy Ghost. He answered the rulers, “His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the man you crucified just three weeks ago. God raised him from the dead. And now he’s the power that healed this man. No one can be saved by any other name. You’ll be lost if you don’t call on Christ’s name” (see 4:10–12). 

 

The rulers sat stunned. Scripture says, “They marvelled [admired them]; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (4:13). The phrase took knowledge comes from a root word meaning “known by some distinguishing mark.”

 

What was this mark that distinguished Peter and John? It was the presence of Jesus. They had Christ’s own likeness and Spirit.

 

Those who spend time with Jesus can’t get enough of him. Their hearts continually cry out to know the Master better, to draw closer to him, to grow in the knowledge of his ways. Paul states, “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7; see also Romans 12:3). What is this measure Paul speaks of? It means a limited amount. In other words, we’ve all received a certain amount of the saving knowledge of Christ.

 

For some believers, this initial measure is all they ever desire. They want just enough of Jesus to escape judgment, to feel forgiven, to keep a good reputation, to endure an hour of church each Sunday. Such people are in “maintenance mode.” And they give Jesus only the bare requirements.

 

Paul desired the following for every believer: “And he gave some apostles …prophets…evangelists… pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints...till we all come in…the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men…whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–15).

 

Paul was saying, “God has given these spiritual gifts so that you may be filled up with Christ’s Spirit. This is crucial, because deceivers are coming to rob you of your faith. If you’re rooted in Christ and maturing in him, no deceptive doctrine will ever sway you. Yet, the only way to grow to such maturity is by wanting more of Jesus.”