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The Beautiful Gate

Scripture: Acts 3:1-10
Date: 06/26/2004 
We look at the story of Peter healing a lame man after Pentecost at the gate called Beautiful. The story of this man's healing is the story of all who are brought to the house of God and are outside the gate of heaven. But God reaches out to give salvation that cannot be purchased.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Happy Sabbath. There we go. It was on. I turned it off. Well, it is very good to see each of you this morning. I was glad to see Pastor O’Connor and his wife visiting again. Why don’t you stand up, Joe? One of our associates at Central back from seminary and it’s good to have him and his family here today. And I want to thank Pastor Maury and all of the VBS staff for the outstanding job they did this week. I can’t honestly remember in the eleven years I’ve been here a better VBS program that was conducted and it was so good to see all these young people up front and I want to thank them for that and their hard work and I hope you’ll do that on your own.

This morning our subject is going to be dealing with the theme of salvation. In particular the title is called “The Beautiful Gate.” “The Beautiful Gate” As I began to prepare for this message I did a little study on gates in the Bible and I was surprised I could do a whole sermon just on gates and what they represent and they frequently appear. You know Jesus said, “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life. Wide is the gate that leads to destruction.” The Bible speaks about the gates of the New Jerusalem and then also it talks about the gates of Hell that will not prevail against the message of God. A lot in the Bible about gates. Even in the Sabbath commandment it tells us that your son and your daughter should observe it and the stranger within your gates. And so it’s smart to understand something about what gates mean in the Bible, but our story really springs from Acts chapter 3.

This is the first miracle that the disciples perform that is recorded after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Now in Acts chapter one God gives the promise of the Holy Spirit. In Acts chapter two you’ve got the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and then in Acts chapter three we see the practice of the Holy Spirit. The promise of it, the pouring out of it and then you see it in practice in Acts chapter three. Let’s begin with verse one and see what kind of lessons we can learn along the way as we study. You pray for me as I attempt to teach. “Now Peter and John went up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” Alright, right there, there’s a whole lot right there and I want to park and talk about this. First of all, you’ll notice that Peter who was the one who denied Christ the most, but he wept bitterly because of his denial, he repented, Jesus specifically told the angel to tell Mary to go tell the apostles and Peter that I’m alive.

God letting Peter know you’re forgiven. Then on Pentecost Peter sort of becomes the chairman of the board. He’s the most outspoken of the spokesmen. You would think that Peter would have paired up in a preaching duo with Andrew his brother, but sometimes you find friends that are even closer than a brother. And who knows maybe Andrew and James paired up as a preaching duo, but as you look through the Bible it’s interesting that the boldest, most outspoken apostle was paired up with the apostle of love. Those two things need to go together, don’t they? And I have a feeling that God balances people out. During the Great Reformation God in his wisdom paired up Luther with Melanchthon because Luther was, of course, he was just a zealous, a little bit impulsive, bold, outspoken, whereas his friend, his partner Melanchthon was a little more pensive and thoughtful and meticulous and God puts us together sometimes. You know he does that in marriages.

Amen? He often pairs opposites together that you might strengthen one another’s weaknesses and round off each other’s corners and I don’t know the Lord sometimes you wonder if he has a warped sense of humor the way he puts people together. But there is a reason that he does it the way he does it. And so he’s paired up Peter and John and they became a very powerful team. Together they go to the temple of the Lord. You know God says that we’re more effective two by two. When Jesus sent them out preaching and teaching he sent them two by two so one can be talking while the other one is praying for them. And when one takes a breath the other one could pick it up. And it’s very helpful doing it that way. When I do the radio program on Sunday night with Pastor Dick, we’ve done that together for about nine years now. Pastor Dick has been volunteering, Pastor Dick Debit who is formerly from Southgate now the new pastor of the Antelope Church, and we work well together because sometimes when he’s talking I’m looking up the next scripture and then when I’m doing one he’s praying for me to figure out the answer and it just works well when God pairs us like this.

They’re going to the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. You know when you look in the Bible you can see that Jesus was crucified the third hour. The sky went dark the sixth hour and he said, “It is finished” the ninth hour which would have been three o’clock. Jesus spent seven hours on the cross; six hours alive, one hour resting, dead. Isn’t that interesting? And here the very hour when Jesus said, “It is finished” is when they now go to the temple to pray and while they’re there at the temple… oh, by the way those three times that are mentioned the third hour, the sixth hour, the ninth hour that helps us remember that King David said in Psalm 55:17, “Morning, evening and at noon will I pray.” The Jews had three specific times of prayer and that’s why it says “the hour of prayer.” They had a prayer meeting during that time, three o’clock in the afternoon they’d drop what they were doing, they’d pray and it was part of their life.

Daniel as his custom was went into his upper room and he prayed three times a day and he had done it all of his life. This goes all the way back to the time of Abraham. They claimed that Abraham had a custom of pausing whatever he was doing, whether he was in the farms or in the fields with the flocks and he would pray to God in a more respectful, focused way. We are supposed to pray without ceasing, right? But having times of prayer and corporate prayer. You know I’ve heard about different members of the church that have a time every day they’ll call somebody and they pray together for just a few moments every day. They expect a phone call and if they’re on another line they say, “I’ve got to go. I’ll call you back.” They take their phone call, their prayer partner, they pray together and then they go back to their business. Isn’t that a great practice? Do you have a prayer partner? It’d be good… three times a day to pray in a deliberate way.

So they’re going to the house of God to pray. Notice you’ve got the men of God going to the house of God at a specific time, the time of God for prayer. They are walking in God’s will. Then we read in verse 2, “Now there was a certain man that was lame from his mother’s womb who they carried daily to the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful,” the Beautiful Gate, “to ask alms of those who entered the temple.” So here at the time of prayer they’re going to the temple and they must go by this man who is stationed at the gate. Now I think that maybe I should talk to you about the significance of this. The first miracle that the apostles perform after the outpouring of the Spirit that is recorded, you got Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit is poured out, Peter preaches a sermon, the next thing is Acts chapter 3 and this miracle. It is significant of the whole process of salvation.

That Beautiful Gate at the temple of God that this beggar is on the outside of is a symbol of salvation. He is separated from God because he is crippled and he is outside. He wants to go inside. You know there was a law, Leviticus 21:17. Some of you take notes. You may want to check on this. “Speak to Aaron, saying, ‘No man of your descendants in succeeding generations, who has any defect, may approach to offer the bread of his God… a man who is blind or lame,’” crippled, “who has a marred face or any limb too long, a man who has a broken foot or a broken hand…” people who were deformed were not supposed to serve in the temple as priests because that temple courtyard was a symbol of heaven when all things would be restored. It doesn’t mean that God is against those who may be handicapped. Those deformities are symbols of sin. We’ll all agree with that, right, just as thorns are.

It doesn’t mean it’s part of God’s will. And so here this man is separated from God because he’s lame. In the Bible your walk represents your direction. The Bible talks about walking with the Lord. “The word is a lamp unto my feet as I walk and a light to my path,” and we are to walk with God. You’re walking in the way. There’s so much in the Bible about the walk of the Christian. When a person is lame some people they may walk with a crutch like Mephibosheth. He could at least sit at David’s table, but there might be a handicapped walk. It’s a limp or a gimp, but this man can’t even walk. He’s carried. He is not able to get to God. Now when you read in the book Desire of Ages it makes a pretty good case. This Beautiful gate… well, let me back up and tell you about the gate. The gate called Beautiful, according to the Jewish historian Flavious Josephus, the temple had nine gates all around covered with gold and silver, but there was one gate outside the holy house made of Corinthian brass. Now all of the gates had gold and silver including the Beautiful gate. Some of them were wood overlain with gold and silver.

The Beautiful gate was Corinthian brass plus it was of course beautiful ornate in carvings and it was overlaid with gold and silver, covered with gold and silver, but the Corinthian gate which opened on the east, notice, over against the gate of the holy house itself was much larger. Its height was seventy-five feet. That’s, yeah, that’d be taller than our ceiling. How many men would agree with me? That’s higher than seventy-five feet. At seventy-five feet it would be higher than that. It was over seventy-five feet high and fifty-five feet wide. Wow! Makes me think of when I was a kid watching King Kong; they had this great big gate to keep the big gorilla out of the village and he managed to get through it. You know I can’t think of any gate in modern times that would match anything like this, but this wasn’t a big gate made of logs, this was a big gate of brass overlaid with gold and silver. You could understand why they call it a Beautiful gate.

That gate is a symbol of the gate of heaven. This man is outside the gate. Now evidently the book Desire of Ages I started telling you it suggests that this man who had been born crippled had heard about the miracles of Jesus and he finally prevailed on his friends to transport him a long distance to Jerusalem where he heard that Jesus was going for the Passover so that he could be healed because Jesus had healed so many. And we know that Jesus went through this gate many times. It says “daily he taught them in the temple.” Just no way that Christ could have walked by this man who was there every day and not healed him. Can you imagine the disappointment when this man is finally brought to Jerusalem and he said, “I’m looking for Jesus of Nazareth.” He had heard about him.

He’d heard about his teachings. He believed that he would heal him and they said, “Oh, we’ve got bad news. They killed him about fifty days ago.” Because keep in mind this event happens right after the Passover. Oh, he was devastated. So now he’s there. He had traveled expecting, spent all his money getting there and now he has no way home so he has to beg at the gate and every day his friends bring him now. He’s probably been there since shortly after Christ was crucified all through the Passover he’s begging. The pilgrims are coming and going to the temple. Talk about discouraged. Can’t even get there himself. He has to depend on… you know I have to bring this out. Only way he got there is that friends brought him. There are some people that will never get to the house of God unless someone else brings them. You remember when Jesus was preaching in the house, Mark chapter 2, and this man who was paralytic was brought by his four friends and Jesus healed him.

The only way he could get there is because someone brought him. Most of the people that were healed by Jesus were brought to Jesus. Only a few did Jesus heal on his on or they came on their own like the woman who reached out for his garment. But a lot of people who were healed by Jesus were brought to Jesus. That’s still true today. Jesus wants us to bring people to where his house is, where the word is proclaimed that they can receive that spiritual healing. Now a lot of people had probably walked in and out of this gate, thousands, hundreds of thousands because it was during the feasts and Josephus says that as many as 250,000 lambs were slaughtered and a lamb might represent a whole family. A quarter of a million lambs, a quarter of a million families, a lot of traffic went through that gate. Keep in mind that the temple mountain where this temple was situated was over forty acres and it would contain a lot of people. You’re going to find out more of that as we go on. And they went by this man. That beggar at the gate also represents the lost of the world and you’ve got everybody coming and going to the house of God and they’re just leaving him a few crumbs.

You remember the story that Jesus tells, the parable in Luke chapter 16, verse 19 about the rich man and Lazarus and where did Lazarus lay? At the rich man’s gate just wanting crumbs that fell from his table. And then the rich man says, “There are five brothers in my father’s house.” In my father’s house, that’s a symbol for the temple. So this, even the poor beggar that is at the gate in the parable of Jesus is very similar to this poor beggar who is at the house of God. He can’t go in but he’s hoping for a few crumbs. He’s got a few dirty pennies in his hands that people would toss him to make them maybe feel like their prayers would go a little further when they got inside. So I think you’ve got the picture of what’s going on here. Now as Peter and John go in the Bible tells us that they see the man there just like everybody else does but you know their hearts have been transformed by the Holy Spirit and now they’ve got the mind of Christ and they feel empathy and sympathy and compassion for those that are suffering. Back to chapter three, Acts chapter 3, “Who, seeing Peter and John about to go in, asked for alms.” Begging.

Now here in Sacramento the closest parallel that we have is you know periodically at certain intersections around town we see people that are holding up signs and they’re saying, “Homeless” or “I’m hungry” or “I’m a vet and I can’t find work” and there’s a variety of signs they might hold up. Sometimes they just hold up a sign, “Please help. God bless.” I mean, it’s right to the point and you wonder sometimes about should I help them, and maybe they’ve got a problem with drugs and I’m just contributing to their delinquent lifestyle. Any of you ever struggle with that? You know you want to help people help themselves. I read something this week that convicted me. I think it was Matthew Henry said that when you’re wondering whether or not you should help someone who is begging he says, “You’re better off giving to several wasps than passing up a single bee.” You know sometimes we have to leave the results to the Lord. But overseas it’s a little different.

They don’t stand as people drive by. They do say, “Please give.” And I remember, oh, in India it broke our hearts. These mothers holding babies that were filthy, mother and baby, and you could see that they were undernourished and they would walk up the street and oh, you know the Indian people are such beautiful people. That made it even harder. And they’d walk up the street and we’d come out of our hotel, our mission group and they would follow us up the street if we just wanted to go shopping or go anywhere and they’d say something they didn’t understand usually in Tamil or one of the dialects and they’d be going like this and they’d be going food for the baby and you don’t know what. They kept repeating something in their language and they’d follow you and they’d tug at your sleeve gently. They wouldn’t tackle you or say but, oh, man, it felt like a thousand pounds pulling on you. And if you gave to one of them, which we frequently did, you didn’t realize there were a thousand eyes that were watching and they’d all come out of everywhere. “Hey! We got a hot one here!” it’s like they had radar. And you’d see beggars everywhere. You had to be careful.

If you were going to give to someone you wanted to look around make sure there weren’t too many witnesses because they figured that you were an easy target. But it would break your heart and they would ask you for alms. And so here is this man, he can’t even stand up and he’s there at the gate and he looks at Peter and John and you know I believe they had that aura. When people have been baptized in the Holy Spirit it’s hard to hide it, right? I mean Peter and John had just been baptized the previous chapter by the Holy Spirit. I don’t think it had all worn off yet. They had tongues of fire coming out of their heads. And he sees them and they’ve got that look of love that Jesus had and he thinks, “They look good.” And he specifically singles them out and says, “Would you have anything?” Well, Peter figures… the Holy Spirit is impressing Peter that this man has faith to be healed. And so Peter says to him… “Fixing his eyes on him,” in other words he stops.

The traffics flowing in the gate. Peter stops. Others are having to go around him, and he fastens his eyes on the man and gives him attention. And then Peter says to him, “Look at us.” I want to get your attention. You know one of the most important things before you preach the gospel is you need to get people’s attention. That is one of the most frustrating things for a pastor, for me, is people come to church and of course there’s distractions here. You’ve got everything from the fatigue of the week that puts you to sleep. Sometimes devils put you to sleep. Then you’ve got babies that squeak as they normally do. And sometimes a fly will land on your nose or your head. It happens to me sometimes when I’m preaching. And there’s all kinds of distractions, but worse than those external distractions our minds are so over-stimulated with entertainment typically even if you don’t watch TV just from the magazines and the billboards and the radios and just the information that is constantly assaulting our senses that when we come to church Sabbath morning and the preacher says, “Can I have your attention please.” It’s hard to get people’s attention. Amen?

I mean, here you want to say something profound you’ve studied from the word of God and you know that people are often here they’re putting in their time. Can I tell you a pet peeve? I’m about to get in trouble. I wish people would all come in when the sermon begins. Sometimes I look through the glass and it would be better if it wasn’t there because I see folks talking and chatting out there and I’m sure they all feel it’s important but I want to say, “Get in here!” You don’t see it, but it distracts me. I want your attention. Everybody should come in during the church. Amen? Did I say it in an offensive way? Then let me try one more time because I don’t think I got through. I remember an evangelist. Any of you remember hearing of a famous Adventist evangelist Fordis Detimore? And I heard one time that he had this big auditorium and everybody was coming in and there he’s starting the meeting and they’re doing the preliminaries and they’re all chatting.

They’re used to having football games there or something like that and he can’t get their attention and so finally he comes to the microphone and he says, “Sex! Sex! Sex!” And it grew deathly quiet. And he said, some of you who know Fordis Detimore know this and he was an old evangelist and they wondered. And he said, “Now that I’ve got your attention…” and sometimes pastors feel like they’ve got to resort to these zany antics just to get people’s attention so then you can make the spiritual point. And there was so much going on as the people flowed in and out of the house of God Peter wanted to make sure, “I’m about to tell you something that can change your life. Can I have your attention? Look at us. Fix your attention on us.” And after he said that, “So he gave them his attention.” Now why do you think he gave them his attention? Well, when you’re begging and someone says, “Can I have your attention please?” If I pull up at an intersection in Sacramento and someone is holding a sign that says “Please help. God bless.” And I roll down my window and beckon them what do you think they expect? That I’m going to ask for directions?

Would that make them happy? I remember one person. You know the signs that you read are very creative and some of them may be true, some of them are not and I’ll remind you folks I used to panhandle and beg so I know what’s going on behind the scenes there. But I remember I was driving around town with Bill May one time and we came up to an intersection and there was a man standing there and he had a cigarette in his mouth and he was holding up a sign and it says, “I need beer. Why lie?” And I looked at Bill. We both laughed. We thought you want to help the guy because he’s being honest, you know? But, no, we couldn’t feel like we could help that, but anyway you had to respect him. But when Peter and John said, “Look at us.” He’s expecting that he’s going to get some money and right away Peter thought, “You know, I’d better set the record straight.” He’s got these expectations of reward. Now while I’m on that let me say when you come to God you should have expectations. God wants you to expect something of him. A matter of fact, the whole message of Jesus and the gospel is that we can expect great things from God. We should expect great things from God.

I think he is disappointed when we don’t expect great things from him. He’s God! If you can’t expect great things from God then where you going to turn? Right? So it’s okay to have great expectations of God. Just make sure that you don’t have false expectations for the wrong rewards. Jesus began his ministry by chastising the hypocrites for wanting the wrong rewards. He said, “You fast to be seen of men and that will be your reward, the glory of men. You give to be seen of men, you want the praise of men, that will be your only reward. You pray to be seen of men, that’s your reward. People will see you praying.” But he said, “If you want to be a real Christian do your fasting, praying and giving secretly and your Father will reward you openly.” And so sometimes we’re looking for the wrong reward. Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Take your treasure and give it to the poor and you will have a reward.

You’ll have treasure in heaven.” And so it’s okay to expect the right reward. So he’s got these expectations but you know the shame is he’s expecting some money to sustain him in his crippled condition. And you know so often our expectations and our prayers are really we’re asking God to simply sustain us in our lost condition. Help me get by another day in my current state. It’s like the man in prison and God wants to liberate him from prison and instead of saying, “Lord, save me from my prison” our prayers are often comprised of things like, “Lord, could I please have a brighter light for my prison? Lord, could I have some carpet for my prison.” And that’s how we often pray, “Lord, make me comfortable on, in death row.” Isn’t that what we’re doing? And this man, he’s expecting that he’ll just get some sustenance in his crippledness. Then “expecting to receive something from them…Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have…’”

You know the bishop in Rome is supposed to be the follow through on the apostle Peter. You all know what I’m talking about? I’ve never heard a sermon preached on this verse coming from this church. “Silver and gold have I none.” I borrowed that from Adam Clark in his commentary. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.” Now God, let’s put ourselves in Peter and John’s place for just a minute, God wants us to give what we do have. What do we have? If you’re a Christian well you’ve got the gold of the gospel and the silver of salvation. You’ve got the living water and the bread of life. You may not have a lot of tangible things, but what do you have? God wants you to share what you do have. Peter says, “What I do have I’ll share.” And you know that’s really the gospel. If you’ve got two shirts, share with those who just have one.

It’s a very simple message that in the gospel we are to share what we have, but the most important thing to share beyond the practical needs of life are the message. What is the greatest treasure that you could share with those in need? You know they’ve got a program now, it came out a few years ago and the first time I heard it, donate your used car or RV or boat to this charity and you get a tax deduction, and I thought well, that’s interesting. I wonder if anyone will do that. And I guess a lot of people did it because the first ministries that began to ask people for their old cars, they got all this stuff and then of course I don’t know what they do. They fix them up and they sell them to junk yards and they’re worth more than you probably think and maybe they get them running again. And then they started saying you know for this ministry, this charity, this homeless shelter if you’ve got a used car, RV, boat, airplane, they started saying all kinds of things.

I’m going, boy, they really widened the scope, but people donate these used things. When God asks you to share your treasure he’s not just talking about emptying the junk out of your front yard or your garage that you don’t need. Your greatest treasure is the knowledge of Jesus. If someone was going to rob you and they could rob your mind and take away your knowledge of Jesus what would be the most valuable treasure you have? They empty your house if they leave you with Jesus you’re rich, but if they leave all of your earthly possessions and they take away your relationship with Christ and your knowledge of salvation you are poor and wretched and miserable and blind and naked. You’ve been robbed! Peter says, we may not have silver and gold and if you read in the book of Acts they were taking their land and selling it and giving it to the apostles who then gave it to the poor but they had treasure in heaven.

Jesus asked Peter and James and John to leave their nets and follow him and they did. Silver and gold I don’t have. We’ve left everything to follow Jesus but we are much richer. We have treasure in heaven and we’re willing to share that with you. What I do have I share. One more thought on that point. When I first accepted Jesus I was reluctant to tell people because I thought, “I don’t know enough yet.” And you’d be surprised but even Pastor Doug went a while before I said much to anybody because I thought, “I just don’t know enough.” And then somewhere along the way somebody told me, “Doug, the first criteria to teaching a mule something is you must know more than the mule knows.” And if you are a Christian and you know something about Christ and you’re talking to someone who knows nothing about Christ share what you do have. Such as I have I share with you. I don’t know everything. I’m not a theologian. I don’t understand how to defend all the points of our faith, but I know something and I’m going to share what I do have. Don’t be reluctant to share what you do have with people about Jesus.

What Peter shared was very simple and it changed this man’s life. He then reaches out to him and he says, “In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.” And the Bible says that he takes him by the right hand and lifts him up. So what does he share? He shares the name of Jesus. Now did that beggar, if you agree with my theory and I agree with Desire of Ages, that this man knew who Jesus was. I mean, keep in mind this was right after the crucifixion. Cleopas and his friend when talking to Jesus and Jesus said, “What things have happened?” They said, “Are you a stranger in Jerusalem? Haven’t you heard? It’s been on the front page!” Do you think he knew who Jesus of Nazareth was? Of course he did. I believe he had come hoping that Jesus would heal him, devastated that Christ is now crucified so when he hears Jesus’ name a spark lights within him. That name of Jesus meant something to him. He probably knew something about his teachings. And so he comes to him and he says, “In the name of Jesus Christ.” What gives us potency in our prayers? We pray in Jesus’ name. If you ask the Father anything in my name I will do it.

We’ve got to understand there’s power in the name of Jesus. and he says “in the name of Jesus” and then later when Peter explains the miracle, verse sixteen, “And in His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong.” Is there any doubt about what healed this man? Faith in the name of Jesus. “In His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong.” So he reaches out and it tells us in verse seven, “He took him by the right hand.” Why do you think it mentions the right hand? Why doesn’t it say hand? What does the right hand symbolize? Favor. The right hand symbolizes salvation. “I will say unto the sheep on my right hand, ‘Enter into the joy of the Lord. Well done, good and faithful servants.’” It’s a symbol of salvation. This man is about to go into the Beautiful gate which is a symbol of being saved. Peter must take him by the right hand.

It means walking with the Lord. And you know another reason he takes him by the hand he helps him to initiate doing what he’s asking him to do. He says, “In the name of Jesus Christ, rise and walk.” Now, has this man ever walked before? Evidently when you read on it says he felt strength in his feet and ankles. His feet were both completely lame. And I’ve seen this. You see a lot of it when you travel overseas where you know their feet and ankles just are they’re completely atrophied and shriveled and they don’t function at all and you can’t even walk because you’re walking around on these clubs of flesh and evidently his legs and feet and ankles had no strength. He had never walked and so now Peter is saying, “Rise and walk.” How long does it take a baby to learn to walk? Anyone here born walking? This has not been substantiated but my mother tells me I was born with a tooth.

I figure she would know. Any of you ever heard of a baby being born with a tooth? Oh, good, maybe it did happen. I thought I’d call Guinness Book of World Records. I’ve never seen it biting the doctor first day, but she says I was born with a tooth and my brother was born talking. No, not really, but he talked really soon. I didn’t talk until I was two, do you believe that? It’s true. It made me feel really stupid until I heard Einstein didn’t talk until he was four so I felt like I was in good company but only half as smart as Einstein. But this man had never walked before and it takes babies a while to learn to walk and they usually they do the combat crawl and they finally get up on their knees and their hands and they crawl and then they hang onto furniture and they toddle and they fall and then they kind of stumble along and eventually they walk. When Peter is asking this man to rise and walk he’s going, “There’s no brain preprogramming. I’ve never sent any signals. I don’t know how to do it. I’ve never done it.” And so he took his hand to help initiate the first steps.

God will help you do what he asks you to do. That’s a very important lesson. When you make the first effort to do what God has asked you to do God will strengthen you. The Bible promises if you draw near to God he will draw near to you. If you make a human effort to do what may seem impossible God will give you strength. I want to say that again. That was very important. For that lame man to walk was impossible. What does a walk represent? Living the Christian life, walking with the Lord. It is impossible for us to live the Christian life without God’s help. I hope nobody takes that statement off the tape and edits it out by itself because it would leave the wrong impression. But it is true, it is impossible for you to be a Christian; without the Lord you can do nothing, but with God’s help all things are possible. And he’s asking this man to do something he has never done; he doesn’t know how to do; that is impossible humanly to do, and Peter says, “But I’m going to take your right hand and I’m going to help you up.” And when he made the first efforts to try to make his legs do something all of a sudden the strength was there and all of a sudden the muscles responded and his little toes began to wiggle and he felt this preprogramming that he knew how to make them work.

He was suddenly, miraculously given the ability to have balance that he had never had and coordination he had never had. That’s a miracle. It’s like when God gave the disciples, the day before, the ability to speak languages they had never even studied. That’s a miracle. God can do that, can’t he? When God created Adam did Adam have to crawl around the Garden of Eden for six months before he could walk or was he created, preprogrammed to walk? And this man in a sense is like the second Adam. He is given the ability to do something by creative power he has never learned. The Holy Spirit can teach you more in a few minutes than all of the great institutions or experience of a lifetime. And God through his Spirit infused him with supernatural ability to have this coordination. Not only does he have the coordination to walk, but the Bible says he takes him by his hand and he lifts him up and verse 8, “So he, leaping up…” He jumps to his feet!

If you had never walked before would you jump to your feet? He jumps to his feet, springs off the ground three feet like he’s got pickup truck coils in his legs. And he stands and he walks and he enters the temple walking, and leaping, and praising God. Notice the sequence here. First he jumps up and once he’s on his feet he stands. I can see it. It takes a minute for him to get his coordination, right? And then he takes his steps and then very, almost instantly he’s able to walk around. He’s going, “Hey! This works!” and then he starts to jump and he starts to leap and can you imagine the excitement? And then people are watching this. I mean, there must have been people pouring in. It’s the hour of prayer.

God picked this moment for this miracle because the miracle, what do you think the main purpose of the miracle was? Well, first of all it’s to teach you and I how we’re saved. Secondly, Peter is getting ready to preach about Jesus and this man would be exhibit A of what Jesus came to do: to heal those who are crippled by sin. And all of the people that saw this miracle it became a great way to gather a crowd. You know when you go to some parts of the world, it’s becoming harder and harder to find these corners of the world, and you want to preach the gospel it’s not as hard to get a crowd overseas as it is in North America. If you go to the beach of Madras in India or you go to some of the jungles in Africa and you crank up the generator people will come to watch the generator run. You crank up the generator, I’m not exaggerating, you crank up the generator and then you plug in your computer and a video projector and you start showing pictures you’ll have a crowd just, you don’t have to spend thousands on handbills, you don’t have to spend thousands and thousands on radio advertisements and pre-work and all that.

All you got to do is crank your stuff up. And you know one of the things they do in India is some of these evangelists they say, “We just want to get a van.” They drive around and with this van they’ve got a generator, they’ve got a video projector, they’ve got a computer and they will find a building they can paint white and they when the sun goes down they crank up the generator, Bingo! They’ve got a crowd and they start to preach. Oh, and they’ve got a PA system because sometimes the crowds are so big you can’t hear unless you get something that can reach thousands of people. This man that everybody had seen at the gate for the last fifty days… how many of you who drive around Sacramento, fess up. There are certain corners where you see people and they’ve got their signs you’ve gotten to know them. You don’t want to admit it. Come on. Yeah, you’ve seen them there before and you see them there again and I’ve gotten to know some of them too.

They knew who this man was and now he’s standing. They had seen his shriveled, deformed feet. He’s running; he’s leaping; he’s praising God, making a big commotion and everybody is looking and saying, “Isn’t that the guy with the shriveled legs? What’s he doing?” and all of a sudden they’ve got this big crowd which becomes an opportunity for Peter to preach the gospel. Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” You know the Bible tells us that that healing at the Beautiful Gate is a symbol for what the Lord does to us to enable us to go into God’s presence. The name of Jesus is what made the difference for this man. Before the name of Jesus healed him he was outside the gate a lame beggar. After he hears the name of Jesus he stands, he goes into the temple. He could not go in before. Remember I read you the law in Leviticus? He was forbidden because of his disease.

Afterward he goes into the temple of God and he is leaping and he’s praising God. What made the difference? The power of Jesus’ name gave him the ability to do the impossible and the right to go into the presence of God. How many of you want to go through that gate someday? That Beautiful Gate, the gates of heaven? Well, it tells us that not only did they go through the Beautiful Gates. Then this man is jumping up and down and praising God and he’s on Solomon’s porch. Now I read that Solomon’s porch was originally built, this is interesting. First of all, I think it’s significant it’s the Beautiful Gate and it’s Solomon’s porch. Solomon was the son of David, wasn’t he? He was the wisest king. Solomon is one of the most profound examples of Jesus in the Bible. Solomon ruled over a golden kingdom. Solomon built the temple of the Lord. Jesus came like the Son of David and he built the temple, “Destroy this temple, I’ll raise it up.”

When they destroyed the temple, when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s temple he destroyed everything except Solomon’s Porch. Then it was rebuilt during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. King Herod the great refurbished it and it was still in existence at the time of Jesus and it was probably a hundred and forty-five feet long and there was this big portico that was a covered area with steps on it and it was a place to speak from and thousands of people could gather up there and they all came to Solomon’s Porch. So Christ is being preached from Solomon’s Porch, that’s where the wisdom of the Lord is. Do you understand the significance of all this? The words, they all mean something. Oh, by the way, the Bible says that Jesus, in the Gospel of John, taught from Solomon’s Porch. And so now Peter is standing in the very same spot where Jesus stood. He is now preaching the messages about Jesus. And this man is so thrilled he’s walking and leaping and praising the Lord. I want to go back to our story in Acts. I’m flipping back and forth from some of my notes. And it says, “…the people saw him walking and praising God.”

Friends, if you have been crippled by sin and you have been restored by Jesus people need to see you’re walking with the Lord and praising God. Do people see that you praise God with your walk? People saw him in the house of God. Do people see you in the house of God? It ought to be a place where we come to praise the Lord, amen? “Then they knew it was he who sat begging for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement…” It is a wonderful, amazing thing. “…at what had happened to him.” And God wants to do something wonderful and amazing for you and me, doesn’t he? “Now the lame man who was healed (he) held on to Peter and John…” Now is he holding on to Peter and John because he’s afraid he’s going to trip? No, he’s been running around jumping, leaping. He’s got his balance. Why is he clinging to Peter and John? Well, do you remember when Jesus healed the demoniac and as Christ was sailing away he begged that he could be with him? When Jesus healed blind Bartimaeus he said, “Lord, I want to follow you.” He said, “Go your way. Your faith has made you whole.”

We want to follow Jesus we want to be with Jesus when we’re saved. Do you think that man said, after he was healed, “Aw, do I have to go in the temple? I mean, I’d really like to go to work now.” I mean, we need to really keep in mind the very practical thing that Peter and John gave him much more than he expected. He was hoping for a few dirty pennies. I think after they took him by the hand and lifted him up he threw his beggar’s cup aside. Amen? He doesn’t have to beg any more. He’s got healthy legs. He can work now. He doesn’t have to have anyone carry him anymore. He can propel himself. He was powerless before. Now he’s got strength to go where God tells him to go. Do you think he had a problem going into the temple with them? “Oh, you mean I got to go to church? Aw…” He wanted to go wherever Peter and John went because of what they had just done for him. Peter and John, I’ll suggest, they’re a symbol for the word of God.

You’ll find the Bible often is symbolized in the plural. Two witnesses, New and Old Testament, the two spies, a sword with two edges, Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets, Peter and John preaching the word in the temple of God, they’re a symbol for the word of God. And so this man clinging to Peter and John, and it doesn’t say clinging to Peter or clinging to John. He’s clinging to them both and I think we need both the Old and the New Testament, don’t we? And so it’s a symbol that he is hanging onto the word of God because it was after all the word of God that gave him soundness and the ability to propel himself. “Now the same lame man who was healed he held on to Peter and John, and the people ran together… in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.” Now bear with me and I’m going to read a little bit of Peter’s sermon to you. “So when Peter saw it,” I’m in Acts 3:12, “he responded to the people.”

He said, “Hey, great! I’ve got an audience. Let me preach.” You know I’ve got this problem. You pray for me. I fantasize. Whenever I see a crowd I picture myself preaching to them. And I get jealous. If Karen has a basketball finals on television and I see the crowd I think, “I wonder if they’d mind if I told the basketball players to sit down if I went to the Arco Arena and just preached?” I’d love to preach to that crowd. Or I see a football game and I really get mad if I see you know one of these televangelists and they’ve got this big arena full of people and then they preach lies. Oh! I get… oh, would God, can I tell them the truth? And I superimpose myself in those situations and whenever I see a crowd.

I get on an airplane, I think I’ve told you this before, when the stewardess, (oh, you’re not supposed to say that anymore) when the flight attendant is giving the instructions I always want to, “Can I borrow the microphone for just a minute?” and especially when it’s an L1011 or 747 that’s a good audience. But Peter sees a crowd and he wants to preach. And that’s one of the signs if you have the calling to preach is whenever you see a crowd you want to tell them about Jesus. No, that’s really an evangelist. And the Bible says that “when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why do you look so intently at us, as though we by our own power or godliness had made this man walk?’”

Another sign, when Paul and Silas healed the girl they said, “Don’t sacrifice to us. It isn’t us. It’s the power of Jesus.” “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.” There’s a little something you don’t always hear ratified in the gospel; Pilate was determined to let Jesus go. They wouldn’t let him. Boy, talk about putting yourself in a place where you’ve got to be bold. Here you’re in their national, religious center telling them, “You killed your Messiah.” Boy, that takes courage. Peter was a changed man, wasn’t he? “But you denied the Holy One (the Messiah) and the Just, and you asked for a murderer (Barabbas) to be granted to you, and you killed the Prince of life, who God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.”

What is it that is giving Peter license to be so bold and audacious in the center of Jewish religion about what they’ve done? They can’t deny the power of God in the man who is standing next to them that they all know who has been healed. He said, “You know that I’ve got the authority of God. Here’s exhibit A. Now you listen to me.” That’s what’s giving him the boldness to say the things he’s saying. In the same way that our being healed from our crippledness of sin gives boldness to the messengers of God, our being overcome by sin weakens the hands of ministry. The more godly you live, the more effective I am. The better your walk, the more powerful my preaching. The better my walk too, right? It’s not just you. But we can also neutralize the effectiveness of our message by living hypocritical lives. Peter is bold because he says, “You can’t deny the power of God has just healed a man who never walked.”

I’ve gone to the charismatic meetings before where the pastor will bring someone up and say, “What’s the problem?” “Well, I’ve got this limp, you know, I’ve got this one leg the doctor says one leg is shorter than the other.” You know according to statistics everybody here is like that. How many of you have one foot bigger than another? Let me see. No, show me, yeah. Everybody is you know. And sometimes we have one ear lower than the other. We’ve all got that. And I’ll hear these Pentecostal meetings. They’ll come up and they’ll say, “God’s going to heal you. You’ve got one leg shorter than the other.” And they’ll wave hands on them and they’ll say, “Oh! I’ve been healed!” And they’ll jump up and down. Well, you know. That’s kind of a dubious healing, isn’t it? But when someone comes in and they say they have never walked in their life and they’re over forty years of age, well, that’s something.

This man was an exhibit of a real miracle. “And in His name,” verse 16, “through faith in His name, has made this man strong, who you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness.” This man is a symbol of salvation. He is in the house of God. He’s gone through the Beautiful Gate and he now has perfect soundness and when we go through the Beautiful Gate we will have perfect soundness. God wants to save us from our sins here. There is a very… yes, you’ll get new bodies when you get there, but you must be saved from your sins here if you want to go through the Beautiful Gate. There is a diabolical teaching that God will save us from our sins once we get there. No, Jesus came to save you from your sins now, amen?

Teach us to flee from the wrath to come now. “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance…” He’s starting to ease up on them a little bit. “…as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He will send Jesus, who was preached to you before, who the heavens must receive until the time of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Wow! What a sermon. He said, he preached Jesus to them. He says, repent, forsake your sins, you’ll receive the refreshing, the Holy Spirit. Christ has been received by the heavens but he’s coming back. He’s only there until the time of the restitution of all things. Do you know what that means?

The faith that was once delivered to the saints must be preached again. That’s what I’m trying to do. And then Jesus will come. He will send Jesus. Isn’t that what it said? Well, I tell you if Peter has the power to heal this man through the power of Christ then I believe what he said is true and that Jesus is coming back. You know, ultimately that Beautiful Gate through which the man passed, where the man sat is a symbol of Christ. Didn’t Jesus say there was one door? “I am the door. I am the way.” Jesus is the Beautiful Gate. He is the only way to get into heaven and he is beautiful and it is only as we believe in his name that we can be healed from our being lame beggars. That’s what we are. We are poor, wretched, lame beggars, but God wants to take our hands today and do for us what Peter and John did for that man and heal us so we can walk and leap and praise God, live a new life and be in perfect soundness.

This is the story of the gospel and through the power of God’s Spirit you can have that experience. Do you want to have that experience and be able to go through that Beautiful Gate and go through those pearly gates someday in the New Jerusalem? We’re going to do something different. How many of you know that song that we sometimes sing called, “Beautiful, Beautiful. Jesus is Beautiful”? Those of you who go to prayer meeting know it. We’re going to stand together. You’ve got it I believe in your bulletins and we’re going to sing it through a few times. It will be on the screen if you can see that there. Let’s stand together and sing this chorus, and for those of you who don’t know it I will expect those of you who do know it to sing a little louder. I’m going to let Arlene bring us in.

Beautiful, beautiful. Jesus is beautiful and Jesus makes beautiful things of my life. Carefully touching me causing my eyes to see that Jesus makes beautiful things of my life.

Well, you sound like you know that fairly well. We’re going to sing it again except this time as we sing there may be some of you who have felt crippled in your walk and you have been at the Beautiful gate feeling like you’re on the outside and you want to go in. Jesus is reaching down to take your right hand today and he wants to lift you up. If you sense that he’s speaking to your heart and you’d like to ask for that strength so you can walk the walk and leap and praise the Lord and you’d like special prayer, come as we sing this chorus together. Jesus is the Beautiful Gate. Let’s sing it through again.

Beautiful, beautiful. Jesus is beautiful and Jesus makes beautiful things of my life. Carefully touching me causing my eyes to see that Jesus makes beautiful things of my life.

Father in Heaven, we are so thankful for the very simple and yet powerful message in this Bible story that while we may be lame beggars on the outside separated by our condition just standing at the Beautiful Gate, wanting to go in, begging for pennies that you through your power are able to give us that perfect soundness, that supernatural ability to do the impossible to live and walk the Christian walk. I pray, Lord, you’ll be in a special way with those who have responded to the invitation this morning and give them that ability to do when you take our hand what we are unable to do without your help. Lord, help us to be Christians indeed and I pray that we will be seen as those who glorify you and praise you because you have restored us and given us the ability to enter your house and to sing your praises. Thank you, Lord, that Jesus is the Beautiful Gate and he invites all who will to enter. Bless this church that we can by our walk and our witness bring glory to your name. In Christ’s name we ask. Amen.

God bless you, friends. You may be seated.

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History of Redemption (Brown) by Ellen White

History of Redemption (Brown) by Ellen White
God's Promises




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