What is the Greatest Miracle?

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

The Promise

  • Power
  • Witness

The Event

  • One accord
  • Prayer and supplication

Acts 1:14 – These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Acts 2:1 – When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The Results

  • Boldness (Peter spoke up)
  • Prophecy (the prophet Joel was quoted)

Acts 2:14 – But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.

Acts 2:16 – But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel

The great miracle on the day of Pentecost

  • 3000 added to the church
  • They continued faithfully in doctrine/teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (hospitality and communion) and prayer
  • There was signs and wonders
  • There was sharing with one another
  • There was unity

Acts 2:41-42 – Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:47 – praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The Holy Spirit is a gift, not a miracle, but it will produce miracles in your life.  

The greatest miracle that happened was the gospel being preached and believers coming to know Jesus as Savior. The only event that causes angels to rejoice in heaven is when one soul comes to know Christ in salvation.  

Luke 15:10 – In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.

What Do You Have?

Mark 6:32-44

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.  But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him.  And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.  When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late.  Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”  But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”  And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”  But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”  And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”  Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties.  And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.  So they all ate and were filled.  And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.  Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

The disciples had just returned from a time of sharing the gospel as Jesus had sent them out in pairs to tell the good news.  They were probably excited about this time, but also tired.  Jesus called them to find a deserted place and rest awhile.

Jesus recognized that there is a time to work but also a time to rest.  Way back in the beginning, in creation, we need this principle of the need to rest.  After six days of creation, Genesis tells us that God rested on the seventh day.  We know God did not need to rest, but He was setting an example, a guide to us.  Sometimes we can be so busy “doing” that we do not take the time we need to “be.” 

The multitudes saw them leaving and hurried to join them.  To the disciples, this was probably a cause of stress and they may well have resented them.  But Jesus had compassion. 

Interesting that when he had compassion his first response was not to feed them, to heal them, but to teach them.  For many following Jesus was just to get their physical needs met, but Jesus wanted more for them than that.  Today, how much of our prayer time is spent on our physical needs rather than taking time to just draw closer to Jesus? 

Although His first priority was for their spiritual needs, He also recognized the physical need and wanted to meet that. 

The disciples, despite all the miracles they had seen Jesus do and despite their successful preaching tour they had just returned from, still did not truly recognize what Jesus could do.  They questioned how they could feed the multitude. 

Jesus told his disciples to give them something to eat.  But they just did not “get it.”  They felt they had nothing to give.  Their response was to send them away empty.  How many times does Jesus call on us to minister to someone but our response is that we cannot do anything?

Jesus told them to go and see what food they did have.  God always begins with what we do have.  I think of something I often told my church when I was a pastor.

  1. Start where you are
  2. Use what you have
  3. Do all you can

They ate until they were filled.  Afterwards, there was food left over.  If anyone went away hungry, it was their fault for not taking what they needed.  The Early Church clearly remember this great miracle and took comfort that Jesus would meet their needs.  Much of early Christian art, especially on the walls of the catacombs, show pictures of loaves and fishes. 

Jesus is our example of how we should respond to those in need, not the disciples who wanted to send them away.  But as Jesus, taking what we have and doing what we can knowing that with Jesus’ help we can much more than we think possible.

James 2:14-17 – What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

What is Your Need?

James 5:13-18

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

  • Be specific in your request
    • Suffering – persecution, afflictions, torment, harassment, passions and desires.  Prayer is the answer.  Allow the fruit of the Spirit to work in your life.

Galatians 5:22-26 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

  • Cheerful – Psalms – sing songs and praise the Lord
  • Sick – Call for the elders of the church – let them pray
    • Those who know how to touch the hem of His garment
    • Anoint with oil in the name of the Lord
    • The prayer of faith will save the sick
    • The Lord will raise him up
    • Sins will be forgiven
  • Confess your trespasses, sins, faults to one another.  Praying for one another to be healed.  The individual you trust in enough to confess your sins to cannot do anything for you to forgive you, but they can be of help to you when you are bound and/or burdened.
  • Verse 16 – The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 
    • The supplication to God for me by a holy, God-fearing, devil-hating brother/sister in Christ sure does help.
    • Elijah was a man like us with the temptations, fears we have.  His prayer worked.  Ours will too.
      • He knew God
      • He served God
      • He knew how to pray

1 Kings 18:20-30 – So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers fire, He is God.”  So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”  Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”  So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.  And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.  Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.

  • Example of a man who knew how to pray
  • There was no voice from Baal
  • Elijah repaired the altar of God that was broken down
  • He put God back in charge
  • He stepped out in faith
  • God answered by fire

1 Kings 18:31-39 – And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four water pots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.  And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”  Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

Names of God – Jehovah Rophe

Philippians 2:5-11

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jehovah Rophe –The Lord Who Heals You

Exodus 15:22-26 – So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.  There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

At the Red Sea, Israel witnessed God’s incredible destruction of the Egyptian army.  The Israelites rejoiced in this victory, playing their instruments, dancing and singing, “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously!  The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”

Immediately after this miraculous deliverance, Israel began a journey into the desert toward the Promised Land.  In three days’ time they covered some forty miles…yet they quickly realized they had been going in circles.  To their dismay, they had progressed only about twelve miles from where they had started.  To make matters worse, they found no water.  After two days in the desert, the supply they had brought with them was gone.  In this brief amount of time, they descended from the heights of praise and ecstasy to the depths of despair.  How easy it is to forget some great victory when something goes wrong!

Then someone spotted a body of water ahead.  You can imagine the stampede that took place to get to it.  I can see the fastest and healthiest Israelites arriving first, quickly dunking their faces into the water, taking in big gulps.  A few seconds later, however, they are spewing the water from their mouths.  They cry, “This water is bitter, undrinkable.  Do not swallow it – it’s full of poison.”

The people trailing behind them do not believe their claim.  They also quickly drink in big gulps.  But soon they are spewing out the bitter water too.  Scripture says, in Exodus 15:23 – “Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.”

Isn’t it amazing how Christians will not listen to warnings of other Christians?  They have got to find out for themselves.

What did God’s people do (yes, God’s people) in this situation? 

Exodus 15:24 – And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

The very same people of God who had rejoiced in the Lord’s glory just days earlier were now murmuring and complaining against Him. 

These people had seen God perform awesome miracles on their behalf in Egypt.  First, the Lord supernaturally protected them, while all around them he devastated Egypt with plagues.  Then, as they made their way toward the wilderness, God delivered them with the greatest miracle ever witnessed by man; the opening of the Red Sea with giant waves piled high, held back by incredibly strong winds.

In my mind, God provided an even greater wonder.  He removed all sense of reason from the Egyptian army.  Who but a supernaturally blinded army would rush in under such great walls of water?  Any sensible soldier would have seen this wonder and thought, “Wait a minute, this is supernatural.  Only God could do this.  The same God who sent the plagues.  Everybody else can move ahead if they want to, but I’m not going anywhere.”  Yet the entire Egyptian army proceeded and was destroyed. 

Do we ever forget God’s supernatural warnings and march right into trouble?  Then we cry out, “God, why are you doing this to me?”  If we could hear Him, He might be saying, “Hey, you did this to yourself.”  But He still continues to love us anyway in spite of our continued stupidity, in spite of continued stubbornness, in spite of our continued neglect to obey Him.

I ask you, how could any Israelite ever doubt God again, after witnessing such a miracle?  Here’s how:  As soon as the Israelites grew thirsty in the desert, they forgot all about God’s awesome miracles on their behalf.  It took them less than three days to begin to doubt Him.  How long does it take us?  Do we really know our heavenly Father’s nature?  Did He not say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you?”

This is why so many believers rush all over the world looking for signs, miracles, and deliverances.  They are trying to get to know God through supernatural works and wonders.  But nobody truly gets to know the Lord that way.  The apostle Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that faith does not come through witnessing supernatural works or miracles, but through God’s word. 

Romans 10:17 – So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

You may ask, “What is the specific word that produces faith?  It is the word that reveals who our heavenly Father is.  This is how we discover who He is – by seeing and believing for ourselves who He claims to be.  This occurs most often as God meets us in our trials. 

You may wonder, why did God lead the Israelites directly to the waters of bitterness at Marah?  Why did He just not take care of them as He had at the Red Sea?  He took control of an entire sea of water for them so clearly He could have easily changed the waters at Marah as well.  Why did He not do that?

The Lord had brought His people to Marah in order to deal with them.  He was about to begin building His wilderness church.  But He could not begin that work because the camp was filled with a deadly disease, infecting virtually everyone.  What was this disease?  The Hebrew root word for Marah means “corruption of bitterness.”  A spirit of bitterness had spread throughout Israel and it had to be dealt with.

Try to picture the scene at Marah, as the people spewed out the bitter water.  They must have been utterly confused, trying to figure out why God’s blessing and favor had disappeared from them so quickly.  They may even have tried to worship the Lord, but they could not muster up the spirit to do it.  They were unable to quench their thirst, physically or spiritually, no matter how hard they tried.

This is what bitterness does to people.  It brings on confusion, a sense of God’s disfavor, and an inability to worship.  God is trying to warn us about the deadly disease and consequences of an embittered heart. 

Most bitterness among believers can be traced back to a disappointment with God.  Most Christians who are bitter have experienced a deep disappointment with the Lord.  A time of crisis, marriage problems, family upheaval, a financial struggle, a tragic illness slowly draining the life of a loved one.  You were in need, hurting, crying out to God for help, believing for a miracle, doing the best you knew how.  But the Lord didn’t seem to be here for you.  Your trial dragged on, and over time things just got worse.

After a while you begin to wonder, “How could God allow this to go on?  I’ve loved Him, believed Him, and prayed to Him.  But nothing seems to change.”  You did not dare allow yourself to get angry at the Lord.  You made sure you did not do anything to cut yourself off from Him.  But deep down, you were disappointed.  Soon, a seed of bitterness took root in your heart.  Over time that root sprang up and blossomed.  Now it continues to grow and spread in your soul.

Childhood wounds can fester into roots of bitterness.  Certain traumas – abuse, molestation, abandonment – all leave their marks deep inside.  They often leave a trail of bitterness and unforgiveness in their victim’s lives.

Here is what I find most amazing about this passage.  The Lord could have wiped out Israel at Marah.  God had given these people incredible, undeniable miracles of deliverance.  Yet, all through the supernatural plagues and the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, they continued to cling to doubt, fear and unbelief.  First, they did not believe Moses, the Lord’s servant.  Then they constantly questioned whether God was with them, behaving at every turn as if He had forsaken them.  When they got to Marah, God directed Moses to cut down a tree and cast it into the bitter waters.  Then Exodues 15:25 tells us:

So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

When we look to the tree – Calvary – life is no longer bitter.  We see once more that our God comes to us in our crises and failures, bringing us into a new discovery of who He is and giving us another revelation of His loving kindness.

It is at Marah that we discover Jehovah Rophe – “the Lord who heals you.”  The root word for heal here means “to fix or mend.”  God told Israel,

Exodus 15:26 – If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.

The Lord is telling His people here, “I am a God who wants to heal your diseases, to mend you completely – body, soul and spirit.  I want you to know Me!

What do you need to be healed of?  A trial, a difficulty.  Are you angry at society or certain individuals?  Do you have an unforgiving spirit toward someone who has hurt you?

What is the most important healing to receive – physical or spiritual?  What purpose is there in being healed of bodily sickness if we are not supernaturally healed of our bitterness, resentment and pride? 

Even if you harbor bitterness in your heart, you are still the Lord’s possession.  He is offering you total healing. He has revealed Himself to you as Jehovah Rophe – your healer and mender.  He is waiting for you to trust Him.  He longs to restore you to a clear conscience, to good physical health, to His divine peace and favor.  He stands waiting for you now, wanting to forgive you, cleanse you and give you a new heart.  Your physical healing is included, but the healing of your spirit must come first. 

Just cry out to God:  “Lord, I’ve carried this bitterness for too long.  Now I know it’s time for me to be delivered.  I want to be free.”  He will take it the rest of the way.

“I am the God who heals you.”

A Study of the Gifts of the Spirit

Charisma – a gift of grace, an endowment upon believers by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the churches.

Charis – grace, that which bestows on occasion pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard; divine favor freely dispensed.

Gifts of the Spirit – a spiritual gift of God bestowed upon the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit in and by the grace bestowed or given by belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior (see Romans 12:6).

Pneumatikos – plural, pneumatika; from pneuma which means spirit, breath, wind.  Literally means a “spiritual,” that which pertains to, or proceeds from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, any of the following might be applied here:  The gifts, manifestations, impartations, emanations, endowments, matters, things, effects, powers, workings, aids, graces or favors of the Holy Spirit.

Major Lists of the Gifts of the Spirit

Romans 12:6-8, 13

  1. Prophecy
  2. Ministry
  3. Teachings
  4. Exhortation
  5. Giving
  6. Ruling (leadership)
  7. Mercy
  8. Hospitality

Ephesians 4:11

  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Evangelists
  4. Pastors
  5. Teachers

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

  1. Wisdom
  2. Knowledge
  3. Faith
  4. Healing
  5. Miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. Discernment of spirits
  8. Divers kinds of tongues
  9. Interpretation of tongues

1 Corinthians 12:28

  1. Apostles
  2. Prophets
  3. Teachers
  4. Miracles
  5. Healings
  6. Helps (hospitality)
  7. Governments (administration)
  8. Diversities of tongues

NOTE; Only one gift is mentioned in all four of the major lists of the gifts. Attributes or manifestations that might be classified as a gift although not necessarily called a gift in scriptures

Some Examples of the Gifts of the Spirit

  1. Ephesians 2:18-20 – Apostles and prophets
  2. Acts 13:1 – Prophets and teachers
  3. Acts 15:32 – Prophets and teachers
  4. Galatians 2:8-9 – Leadership and apostles
  5. 1 Peter 5:1-2 – Elders (leadership)
  6. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 – Giving
  7. James 5:14-15 – Faith and healing
  8. Acts 21:8-10 – Evangelists and prophets
  9. 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 – Apostles
  10. 2 Timothy 4:5 – Evangelists
  11. Acts 11:27-28 – Prophets
  12. Acts 20:28 – Overseer (leadership
  13. 1 Timothy 5:17 – Rulers (leadership) and teachers
  14. Acts 19:11-12 – Miracles
  •  Are all the gifts of the Spirit still active in the church today?

Most Pentecostal and charismatic churches say that they are still active.  Other churches (Methodist, Baptists and mainline denominations) say that the sign gifts are no longer used in the churches today.

Whatever you believe…take and use as God blesses.  Pray that the gifts of the Spirit you believe are still active are available to you and your church.

  •  Spiritual gifts are not natural talents or human abilities. These talents/abilities are God-given but not a gift of the Holy Spirit.
  •  What is the role of the Christian in his/her use of the Gifts of the Spirit?
  1. 1 Corinthians 13 – to be used with love (not gits without love, but gifts controlled by love)
  2. 1 Corinthians gives specific guidelines for the use of the gifts in the church
  3. Ephesians 4:12 – these gifts are given to to equip the saints, to edify the church
  4. 1 Peter 4:7-11 – purpose of gifts it to ultimately bring glory to God
  5. Colossians 3:23 – all we do, how we use our gifts it to be done for the Lord, not for people
  • Fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, *faith (faithfulness), meekness, temperance.  These are all found in Galatians 5.  The gifts of the Spirit are exercised in accordance with the fruit of the Spirit.

Five Steps Toward Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts

  1. Explore – Study the Scripture concerning the gifts
  2. Experiment – Question, pray, ask yourself, “Do I have this gift?”
  3. Examine – Examine your feelings, makeup, personality, temperament.
  4. Evaluate – Evaluate the effectiveness of your gift.
  5. Expect – Expect confirmation from the Holy Spirit/the body of Christ.

Faith is listed as a gift of the Spirit and also as a fruit of the Spirit.  More appropriately, it should read faithfulness in the list of the fruit of the Sprit. 

Then Jesus Came

Galatians 4:4-5

But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made (born) of a woman, made (born) under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Hebrews 12:1-2 – Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher (Perfector) of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Note:  Much is said of the miracles in Jesus’ earthly ministry.

  • the blind man
  • the demonic man
  • the leper, the deaf, the raging fever

John 2:11 – This beginning of miracles (signs) did Jesus in Cana of Galilee and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

People are always seeking a sign.  Some ask why there are not more miracles today. 

Matthew 12:38-42 – Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”  But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.  The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

There are miracles today but the greatest is when He saved you.

John 3:14-17 – And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Romans 10:9-10 – … if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Why did Jesus come?

1 Timothy 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Hebrews 2:14-17 – Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

John 18:37 – Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

A Changed Man

Galatians 1:22-24

And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God in me.

Dr. Harold Wilmington of Liberty University writes “they (the early church, Peter, Paul, & others) took the teachings of Jesus at face value.  They refused to compromise with any pagan or secular code.  They were absolutely happy always getting into trouble.”

PAUL THE APOSTLE AS HE WAS BEFORE CHRIST

  • His zeal in attacking the Church.

Philippians 3:6 – concerning zeal, persecuting the church.

 Acts 7:57-58 – Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.  And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

  Acts 8:1-3 – Now Saul was consenting to his death.  At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.  And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.  As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women committing them to prison.

Acts 9:1-3 – Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high pries, and asked letters from him to the synagogues of  Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Acts 22:4-5 – I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

  • Causing Christians to be imprisoned.

Acts 26:9-11 – Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.  And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

  • Opposing the Way.

I Timothy 1:12-13 – And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent (violently arrogant) man but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

PAUL THE APOSTLE AS HE WAS IN CHRIST

Acts 26:19-23 – And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God in me.

Acts 22:12-21 – Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’ So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You. And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’

  • Great in ministering the Word.

Acts 9:20-22 – Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.  Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’  But Saul increased in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.  

HE WAS A CHANGED MAN! – Everywhere Paul went; he either started a church or created a riot.

Acts 14:1-7 – Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.

But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them, they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region. And they were preaching the gospel there.

Acts 16:20-34 – And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

I Corinthians 2:2 – For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

I Corinthians 15:3-4 – For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…

  • Great in appointing bishops to churches he had established.  Throughout the Epistles there is evidence of his establishment of churches and appointment of bishops.
  • Great feats of power manifested in and through him.
  • Great in miracles and signs following.

Acts 14:8-10 – And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked.

Acts 19:11-12 – God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out.

Acts 28:8 – And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.

The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons.  He is still in the business of changing men and women who surrender to Him.