12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
These scriptures pick up shortly after God’s judgment was displayed through Ananias and Sapphira as a result of their selfish ambition. They wanted the accolades and recognition that came with sacrificing everything for God without actually paying the cost.
When I think of the “signs and wonders” mentioned in verse 12 of Acts 5 I tend to think of only things that I find to be positive— healing, visions, spiritual growth, etc. I have to remind myself that what happened to Ananias and Sapphira was also a “sign” and a “wonder” because it was from God. Whether I agree with the outcome or not, God choosing to pass judgment on these two people in the manner in which he did was perfect, right, and timely. My reluctance to agree with God in this situation doesn’t make it any less of those things.
While I’m so very thankful that God is full of mercy and grace, I am also aware that He is sovereign and just. While He extends His mercy, grace, forgiveness, and patience to us, He also makes it clear the cost involved in following Him (Luke 14:25-33) and the expected judgment to come for those who want to be called His children without wanting to actually follow Him (Matthew 7:21-23).
What I’ve come to understand is that God is a God of order and consistency (1 Corinthians 14:33). I realize that His plan may not always make sense to me and I might not always be eager in going along with it, but the more I learn to trust Him, the more likely I am to live the life He designed for me to live (1 Corinthians 7:17) and the more likely I am to live it with the peace that only comes from obedience to God (Galatians 6:16, Philippians 4:4-7).
In verse 12 we see that God gave the assignment of performing signs and wonders to the apostles— along with many other responsibilities we see recorded in the New Testament. In the previous scriptures (Acts 4:32-5:11) we see that God, through the Holy Spirit, was giving the assignment (or calling) for some to sell their property and give all of the proceeds to the church. Whether or not this calling was for every single member of the church, I don’t know, but I do know that God took it very seriously when Ananias and Sapphira chose to do things on the surface, without also doing them from the heart as well. Ananias and Sapphira were not living the life assigned to them; they were mimicking others who were living their life according to what they felt God had called them to do.
The church now understood, through the example of Ananias and Sapphira, how serious God takes it when we try doing things our own way or try to plug ourselves into a role not divinely assigned to us. Their response to this new truth? We find it in the next verse of Acts 5:
13 None of the rest dared join them (the apostles)*, but the people held them in high esteem.
*Bracketed text added for emphasis
The church understood that doing anything for any other reason aside from being called by God to do so could lead to His divine judgment— and rightfully so. Instead of being led by jealousy, selfish ambition, or greed they were being shown by God to be led by His spirit alone and to live the life assigned to them; realizing that we all have different, but equally important roles to play in the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-12).
When we as God’s children come into agreement with His plan of order and consistency we began to see the “greater things” that were promised by Jesus to His church.
Take a look at John 14:12-14:
12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
We see these words reflected in the results of the early church being “all together” (v.12), not just physically, but spiritually as well and being led by God and His plan:
14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
When I read that the church was growing “more than ever”, shadows of Godly men were healing people, and others were coming from out of town just to experience what God was doing through His church, it encourages me to know that if I continue to walk the path assigned to me by God and obey Him through my circumstances that I can also be part of a movement like this.
Don’t sell God short. He can and will do miraculous things through a gathering of people who come together, in unity, for the common goal of serving Him. With that said, all groups are made up of individuals and we all have a specific role to play in God’s plan for His church and our community. Do you believe this to be true? Don’t ever let anyone or anything make you feel too far-gone to be used by God. Remember, we all are unworthy of being used by God— that’s why it’s called grace (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
I am convinced that no matter where you are right now spiritually, physically, or emotionally God has greater things for you. They may not look and feel like greater things at the time and there may be some pain, heartbreak, and pruning along the way, but it is entirely worth it; I promise. And the only reason I can promise this is because I’m simply repeating the promise of God to His creation (scripture below), His most valuable creation— people.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
I encourage you to reflect on the questions below and if you feel led, discuss them in your small groups Sunday morning. I hope to see you then.
- Am I currently living the life God has created me to live?
- Is there any sin in my life currently keeping me from the full potential of the life God has assigned to me?
- Do I truly believe that God can change my life, through Christ, and that he has greater things on the horizon for me?
- What are the “greater things” that God has prepared for my life and what is the first step to seeing those visions come to pass?