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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Preaching and the Healing of Messiah: The Reason for Signs & Wonders is the Gospel


As I was studying the book of Acts, I noticed one particular passage, in which the Apostles got in trouble for healing a lame or impotent person, and when they respond to the Magistrates who later imprison them (we will consider the event in a moment in more depth), their answer encompasses on of the best pieces of oratory in history! They manage to gracefully answer the Magistrates and then within a few sentences, preach the whole of the Gospel. That little piece of preaching may not be the great sermon of Stephen being stoned, nor Paul on Mars Hill, but it was concise and perfect, and points to the reason for healing, signs and wonders: the preaching of the Gospel of Yshua HaMeschiach, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Lord, the Adonai of Heaven.

It is not that God does not love us enough, that he would not have healed any, and it is not told just how many He healed followed Him, but it is often told that many did. Everytime though, that Jesus healed, the Gospel went out, and it was by faith. And every time preaching followed the healing, it included several major 'essentials' which Israel needed to hear, to believe and be made whole. That healing to God was the most important thing of all, leading to and being part and parcel of Salvation wrought by faith. Healing was so integral to preaching the Gospel that if the preaching that followed was not mentioned in every passage in detail, it can most certainly be observed to be a sort of preaching in itself, for it declared openly the power and healing of God through Jesus, Yshua.

The purpose of this study is two-fold: 1) to show that healing and preaching go hand in hand, and both declare the Gospel (prophecy also is in league with healing, but that is a study for another time), and that 2) there was a certain way the Apostle's preached, and that they were always 'instant in season and out', even when being arrested , beaten and imprisoned.

There is no doubt that unlike the Church today, they took the harvest of Souls very seriously in the wake of Messiah's ascension, and with the filling of the Holy Spirit: they knew that as long as they preached the Gospel, they would not be held accountable in the final judgment of any they failed to inform. They did not want that blood on their hands. How unlike today when people are concerned if they even share their faith, they might have a moment's dissension in their reputation! The followers of Yshua in the first century had eyes only on the eternal; they were unwavering in their purpose having seen the pearl of great price which caused them all to leave all for the great calling of the Lord and Savior.

Healing and Preaching

I will not belabor what a whole book would be needed to cover, but throughout the Scriptures, Healing and Preaching go together. This is even more so in the New Testament than the Old, but in both the Old and New Testament, healing serves as a declaration of God's nature and power. When Elijah heals the widows son, it declares the power of God through the prophet. When Miriam is blighted with leprosy and then healed, it was to declare God's anointed and the consequences of disobedience. While examples abound, the Old Testament incidents foreshadow the primary intent of healing in the New Testament, the preaching of the Good News of Salvation.

In the New Testament, almost every incident of healing, is followed by a preaching of all or part of the Gospel. When Jesus heals (we have covered a number of His healings in this blog), he turned often to those He had healed and those who witnessed the healing and would exact from them the most critical thing He was looking for : faith. When Jesus healed the centurion's servant he was so impressed at the Centurion, a roman's faith in the Son of God, that he gave him great accolades:

Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard [it], he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

When Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda, he notes to the man and others that he has been made whole and is to sin no more. When the Pharisees rebuke Jesus for the healing on the Sabbath, and equating himself with God, Jesus explains He is doing His Father's work, and expounds a bit on His purpose and mission, and then stating:

Jhn 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

The Gospel is preached by the Son of Man, himself.

After Pentecost, though, when thousands were saved at a time, the apostles and disciples took to the streets and every public forum within reach, healing, performing miracles, and preaching the Gospel . Peter and John are put in jail after a stir by Magistrates for the healing of a lame man and preaching the resurrection from the dead. They are in jail overnight and then tried before the 'reappearing' Annas & Caiaphas. Alexander and John are there. Annas and Caiaphas recall presided over the Temple Trial of Yshua, Jesus, and then turned Him over to Rome. Now, Peter and John, the stalwart leaders of the church, face the same. Yet even when they are arrested, even before the trial, just after the healing of the the lame man, they preach the 'essence' of the Gospel, succinctly and quickly, as though the hearers might never hear it again, or at least as though they couldn't take that chance!. The very short sermon is declared:

Be it known unto you all and to Israel
That by the name of Jeus Christ of Nazareth,
Whom Ye Crucified , Whom God raised from the dead,
even by him doth this man stand before you whole. 4:60

The means of Preaching Post-Pentecost

This same pattern is found in most post-Pentecost preaching by the Apostles and early disciples. There is both
A. An order to what is preached
B. The Content of What is Preached, certain points are always made,
C. An urgency of what is preached.

In the healing of the lame man, people want to know where the power of healing came from, and Peter and John address the crowd, with the knowledge of Jesus and the power of God. When a blind man is healed by Jesus in John 9, the Light of the World is preached. There are countless examples. Yet once can take an even closer look, to learn what the Holy Spirit filled disciples knew was most important to preach, even in a crisis and even in the face of danger. Look again at the above passage and we will note the most important lessons:

Who the Gospel was directed to:
Be it known unto you all and to Israel,

The Name of Jesus
that by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (the name of Jesus , the "name above all names"--- Phl 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:)

Our Sin Against Him

whom ye crucified (Note that this sin was above all others!)

The Resurrection

whom God raised from the dead,(the greatest display of God's power and sovereignty)

The Cause of Healing-Power of God
even by him doth this man stand before you whole
(They declare the power of God is behind the healing, and the Resurrection of the one we all killed).

Note that while not expounded in depth, the whole of the Gospel is presented, including one more major point which is seen in post-pentecost preaching, repentance. In the passage above, though not stated outright as in other preaching following healing and 'signs and wonders' , the pointing out of our sin towards the LORD's Messiah, implies a need for repentance. So then in sum, we see the very basis, the foundation of what must always be preached at healing, and indeed anywhere else, even when there is only a brief time span, and with no excuses:

1. Who the Gospel is for : first Israel, and then the Gentiles
2. The Name of Jesus: not just who Jesus is, but the Power and Sovereignty of His Name
3. Our Sin: We crucified our own Messiah, the gift of God, by our own nature, and likewise, the preaching of the Cross and what was done there.
4. The Resurrection: the utter Love of Sovereignty of God over death: Salvation
5. Repentance (here implied, but elsewhere clearly called for)
6. The reason for the healing or miracle.

More on the nature of 'Pentecostal' Preaching

In another passage in Acts, we see the same similar PILLARS OF PREACHING which follow healing, but certainly can stand alone as daily preaching as well. Consider the following passage: Acts 3:12-25, another case of Preaching after healing which leads to Salvation and 'being made whole'. This is the healing of the lame man at the Gate Beautiful.

Act 3:12-26 And when Peter saw [it], he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let [him] go.But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did [it], as [did] also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. AAnd it shall come to pass, [that] every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.


Acts 3:12 Ye Men of Israel... (note it is always the Jews first)


The god of Abraham and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our Fathers, hath glorified his son Jesus;


whom ye delivered up and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 3:13

3:14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just and desired a murderer be granted unto you

(this passage also declares Messiah's innocence).


3:15 And killed the Prince of LIfe, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

Note up to now, that Yshua, Jesus is delivered and denied to the 'State' the Roman Government when innocent, so part of Our sin against Him, and theirs at the time is the betrayal of innocent blood, so innocent that even the brutal Pilate could tell. It was also the betrayal of an innocent Prophet, the consequences which were deadly and well known in Israel, and there are several times in the Gospels when people referred to Yshua, Jesus as a prophet. (Matthew 13:57; 14:5; 21:11,46; Mark 6:15; Luke 4:24, 7:16,39 13:33, 24:19.) And lastly, most significantly, we crucified our Messiah, the gift from God that we not die forever. The notion that we must hammer people with individual sins like drinking, drugs, sexual sin, lying, etc is far secondary: the apostle preached the sin our what we did to Jesus. Repentance of the other things comes later. Our first sin for repentance is what we did against the LORD and SAVIOR.

Consider also that while in this passage it does not say the "name of Jesus" as in others, He is in vs 15 called the Prince of LIFE, in the preaching of the resurrection. The apostles are convicting their hearers that they chose death over life, and the Prince of Death over the Prince of Life. The sin against God was even greater than the sin at Eden. Why? Because after Eden, God did not have to give us a 'way out'. Ever. And here, after centuries of toil, brambles, thistles, heartache pain and sin, God was not only giving the human race a way out, but was allowing us to sacrifice His son to provide that way out, and we rejected the gift. And yet, the gift, made it possible for us to be made whole, healed to God, and given eternal life. That is why when we reject Him yet another time, no 'way out' remains.
The ultimate choice was foreshadowed centuries earlier

Deu 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

The passage also notes the Resurrection, as in others, without which there is no Life or Gospel, only a dead martyr. And it shows as well that when we see and receive, look and believe, as Spurgeon used to cry, we are WITNESSES. The word in Greek is 'martyria' from whence comes the word 'Martyr' and 'testimony'. We do not just die for our faith as 'heroes', nor preach according to styles or methods, but we are to TELL WHAT WE LEARNED AND SAW---that is when belief in others comes. Who is Jesus? Why did He die, When did you see His Resurrection and what did it mean? We often get that in a night here or there in church when people give their testimonies, but we are to preach it regularly to the unsaved.


And his name, through faith in his name hath made this man strong whom ye see and know, yea, the faith which is by him hath given him the perfect soundness in the presence of ye all.
The prior passage already called him the Prince of Life, but this more detailed preaching that the first we looked at in the beginning, notes that HIS NAME has power, and is not to be taken lightly: real, not metaphorical or convened power. What made the man whole? FAITH IN HIS NAME. Healings, prayers and miracles are always in the NAME OF JESUS, the NAME OF YSHUA. Darkness cannot touch his name, and no name is above his. Further, one sees the preaching of faith. Not a self-generated, 'get myself ready' kind of faith that some preach today, but the faith given by God as a gift that makes a person whole.


One thing in Acts 3 which is not in all, but still in many of the passages of the apostle's preaching is the emphasis on the fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecies, or Messianic prophecies which were fulfilled by Jesus, Yshua, with an emphasis on the 'Suffering Messiah.' Why did the apostles teach about the fulfillment of prophecy? Because there could be no Messiah who did not fulfill every prophecy of Messiah in the Torah/Tenach. Had to be. Israel had to have more than just signs and wonders, even in power and Love to rest assured that this man Jesus, the Rabbi of Rabbis, was who he said he was. And He had to be presented as a suffering Messiah. Why? Because Israel, partially mistakenly was looking only for a worldly King in Messiah who would come and deliver them from their enemies and from death. In Ancient times, both a suffering Messiah and a Kingly Messiah were noted by rabbinical teachers in the Book of Isaiah. Many surmised that there might be two Messiahs, although no one could estimate a 'suffering' King of Isaiah 53 and other passages. "It pleased the LORD to bruise Him" did not meet with former ideas of the great deliverers like David, Saul, Joshua, the Judges or Abraham. And crucifixion was never a Jewish form of a death penalty, but even Jesus on the Cross pointed to Ps 22 by reciting a passage from Psalm 22 that pointed back to the whole psalm about a crucified Messiah.
All the prophets prophesied some aspect of Messiah: his birth, birthplace, characteristics, ministry and so forth, but the Holy One Jesus had to be tied to those prophecies for the 'imprimatur' of Israel. SO Acts 3:18:

But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath fulfilled.


We mentioned just earlier, that implied in our sin towards the Savior was our need to repent. Anyone in church for awhile knows that 'repent' means a literal 'turning away'. The turning away is from sin, darkness, death, old ways and all that keeps us apart from God. This passage is more direct about the need to repent. Modern concepts some fear are little more than 'saying you are sorry' or demeaning someone to do right, but repentance in the early church and in the true Gospel sense means to turn away from what is not of God. Why? Because it's killing us. People coming to the LORD fear giving up things they think they love, but are really addicted to: drugs, cigarettes, sleeping around, ill business practices, and so they do not want to come to the LORD because of what they think they will have to give up. But like bad food and poisons, those things are killing us little by little and robbing us of life, health, being 'whole' and living in the presence of God. So included is a call to repentance, first and foremost away from the death of an earthly life without God, to Life through Yshua, Jesus, the prophesied Messiah:

Call to Repent

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence of the LORD.

Note also that after the conversion or turning, comes REDEMPTION, 'that your sins may be blotted out' (referring to the Book of Life), both biblical and Jewish. And what follows is the reward of heaven:
when the time of refesing shall come from the presence of the LORD"

with the vail rent in two, the blessing comes directly from the Throne of Heaven. The time of refreshing is also used as describing Pentecost and the Second Coming.
Calling for repentance then, in Preaching following healing or in general, is not a condemnatory oratory of how bad people are, but of the great reward from turning from death to life and being made whole and given eternal life. Much of our current preaching which has at least remained 'fundamental' in the correct usage of the word, has too often been 'telling people off' for how bad they are in their sins and how they need to get 'saved' without ever teaching what that even means. Or how real it is.

What more of the 'refreshing' is told? The next point of the apostle's preaching is


3:20 And he shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you; 3:21 Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

The sending of Jesus after his ascension comes first through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit Comforter, the spirit of Jesus, the 'Parakletos', who walks in and with us in this world, keeping us in the presence of the LORD, and later, the passage speaks very clearly to the 'all in all' the 'restitution of all things' when Messiah comes again, and which the prophets told from the beginning. Abraham is the first named prophet, but God spoke to more than one even before Abraham, and even as early as Noah and Enoch, the endtime promises began to form, although Genesis 3:16 included the LORD's triumph in a Messiah from the start.

Acts 23-24 turns to a discourse on Moses prophecy of 'The Prophet and from Samuel and then returns to preaching.


What does being saved mean and why is it preached? I sometimes wish we could use a few other words, because some repeat 'get saved' so often it has lost its very mighty meaning. Yet the Cross, the sacrifice, the blood akedah, meant that our sins are gone in the Covenant of Covenants. He took our sin away. What joy would there be if we still had to earn some part of salvation? Two mistakes are made today in teaching that all we have to do is nod at the Cross in acquiescence and then forget living in and for Christ, or to believe that Jesus opened up a way but we still have to struggle to get in and may not. We are admonished to persevere, and we are admonished to trust in the finished work of Messiah on the Cross. We hear "I know whom I have believeth and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I delivered unto him until that day", and we hear 'faith without works is dead'. Theologians struggle but it is not really a contradiction, rather a dialectic. If the way had not been open by Messiah, we would not go to heaven. If the blood had not paid the price, we would not go to Heaven. Yet if we receive and accept Him and His way, why would we choose to get out of it? Or return to the slavery of sin? Why would we choose to get off the way, when we chose it for ourselves? Acts 3:26 says

Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you in turning away everyone of your from his iniquities.

Corrie Ten Boom referred to a similar idea as saying it was like a ceiling with two ropes hanging down, and they look opposed because one cannot see the rope intertwined into one above the ceiling out of site. So here is the healing Messiah, who once He heals and saves does not really expect one who experiences total love, forgiveness and eternal life to say, No, I'm sorry Lord but I want to go back to destruction, death, horror and nightmares without anyone to turn to." The Messiah is the Way, The Truth and the Life, and that is not to be dissected.

The Preaching at Pentecost

Going backwards in Acts a little, we find again the same elements of preaching, healing and miracles at Pentecost: It started with

1. The Miracle of the tongues of flame which appeared at Pentecost, and
2. Questions about how

"how hear we every man in his own tongue"...2:8

Peter, the Rock on whom Messiah built his church stands to preach and answer, using not a formula, the the soul of the Gospel, so to speak

ACTS 2:14
1. TO WHOM: Men of Judea and all ye who dwell in Jerusalem

Act 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


Acts 2:21, Then it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the NAME of the LORD shall be saved.

(that's a mighty powerful name), and yet in Acts 2:21, it immediately shows to 'way out' to those infected with and beset by sin, and a divine curse since Adam which they could neither bare nor rid themselves of.


Act 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know


...Ye have taken by wicked hands and have crucified and slain;


Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death; because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.


This is just a shade different from direct prophecies of Messiah, but the apostle preaches about the men who foreshadowed Jesus, Yshua and who He would be such as David, the King of Israel, Joseph rejected of his brothers, whose body was born to Canaan after saving Israel, and a myriad others. Even the resurrection is foreshadowed in 2:27 's reference to Ps 110

'thou wilt not leave my soul in hell'

He emphasized that David believed in Messiah:

Therefore being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh he would raise up Christ to sit on his Throne: He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ that his soul ws not left in hell neither his flesh did see corruption. 2:30-1.

There were a few more references that Peter made, such as 2:36 GOD MADE HIM LORD AND CHRIST, 2:38 REPENTANCE: repent and be baptized for the remisionof sinces and receive the Holy Ghost.and 2:39 PROMISE IS TO THE JEWS FIRST , the Covenant and Prophecies of Messiah.


In concluding these examples of many, about the nature and topics preached by the early CHURCH in the days near Pentecost, it must be stated above all that the intent here is never, never to suggest a 'formula' or 'method' for preaching. Healing was an opportunity for preaching, and the preaching always gave a reason for the healing and where the power came from: Jesus. It would be remiss though not to make clear that real preaching , like healing comes not from a set of standards or 'points' but from the Holy Ghost. Jesus was very clear in telling his disciples not to even plan what to say before the magistrates and rulers, for He said that what they should say in that hour would be given them. Now, too many take that as an excuse not to prepare a sermon, but the real preparation is time in the Word of God, even more than outlines and commentaries. Preachers often remark that they had a sermon prepared but the one that came out was different: the Holy Spirit knows who is there, what they need to hear, what passage is timely and anointed, and who should preach, heal, sing, etc, so for all our planning and study, we cannot nearly do what the Holy Spirit can, and our job is to listen, pray, keep in the Word and surrender to the will of the Lord and not our own. This study though came of an observation, that those brave Holy Spirit filled men of the first century, who had been there at Pentecost, been with the LORD just a time before, preached with more wisdom and less encumbrance than we have or use today. Their early preaching helps direct and form preaching today, and corrects doctrine, and points to loving preaching. The Word wins souls, the Holy Spirit preaches Messiah and lifts Him up and draws all men to Him. We yield first to the working of the Spirit. ekbest.

Note: Alexander who was present when the apostles were tried, was the brother of Rufus, both sons of Simon of Cyrene who bore Jesus' cross on the road to Golgotha. Alexander was with Paul when the riot occurred regarding Diana of the Ephesians: he tried to testify but they started shouting.

2. 84.