by Pastor Bob Miller
What a joy it has been for us to focus over these past several weeks on the fact that Christianity is about BEING rather than DOING. Our living flows out of our BEING! Our power and our motive comes from the fact that Christ is dwelling within us!
Previously, we looked at Jesus’ words that He had spoken to His disciples just prior to His ascension and return to His Heavenly Father. The resurrected Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you shall be my witnesses in all Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
The emphasis in Jesus’ saying is that we will BE witnesses! It is what we ARE rather than what we DO as we let the Holy Spirit fill us! As we surrender to His lordship and let Him live through us, we become what He created us to be!
I want to take you to an example of this BEING relationship as we see it being carried out in the lives of those how have been filled with the Holy Spirit. This example is found in chapters 3 and 4 of Acts.
Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray as was their normal practice while in Jerusalem and on their way a beggar confronted them. A man who had been crippled from birth asked them for money. We are told in Acts 3:4-8,
Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temp courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
That was just the beginning of Peter and John’s witness. The man that had been lame stuck to Peter and John like glue. It caused quite a commotion. They began to look to Peter and John as the ones who had an incredible ability.
Peter stood up to set them straight saying,
“Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we made this man walk?” Peter said, "It wasn’t us. It was Jesus whom you killed but whom God raised from the dead. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can see.”
As the crowds around them grew, Peter kept on preaching until the temple guards came up and put a stop to it. They were disturbed because they were “lifting up the name of Jesus and His resurrection." Peter and John were put in jail until the leaders could gather the next day. When the leaders gathered they brought the two disciples before them and began to question them asking, “By what power or what name did you do this?”
Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel, it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is,
“the stone you builders rejected which has become the capstone.”
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Now it is the next two verses are the most telling. Notice the response of the religious leaders in verse 13,
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say."
When they saw the courage of Peter and John… Isn’t that interesting? Peter and John had been testifying and answering their questions, but it doesn’t say, "When they heard what Peter and John had to say…” Rather it was, “When they saw their courage." When they saw their boldness! The emphasis here is not what they said, but HOW THEY SAID IT! It was their attitude that impressed the Pharisees. They couldn’t get away from their spirit.
That is very often the case when it comes to our witness. What people remember most is our attitude. After our words are long forgotten, what lasts is our ATTITUDE!
Even today after nearly 45 years, I can still tell you that Steve and Janis Brey are among the most influential people in my life, as far as their witness for Jesus Christ. Steve and Janis were my Junior High Youth leaders at the University Avenue Nazarene Church in San Diego. I can’t remember anything they said, but I know they loved us, and they sacrificed for us! I can’t even tell you what their jobs were but I know they volunteered their time to spend their Saturdays with us and open their home to us. Their witness wasn’t something canned or memorized. They merely let Jesus live through them. At that time in my life, I saw Jesus in Steve & Janice Bray.
I think it is interesting that verse 13 ends with the phrase, “…and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” It wasn’t their talent, their good looks, or their fancy speaking these ‘unbelievers’ noticed. They noticed that they had been with Jesus!
The reality was something they didn’t understand and could not comprehend, but Jesus was present at that very moment!
Verse 8 starts, “Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit said to them…”. The outside God has come to take up residence within their hearts. The Holy Spirit had come upon them. They were BEING witnesses! At the very center of this BEING experience IS the person, Jesus Christ.
This is the great desire of the gospel for your life. We have many things that we seem to go after in Christianity, but in reality, we need only one thing - One Person, and His name is Jesus. Our goal as a Christian is for the person of Christ to become so central in our lives until others around us become aware of His influence in us.
This kind of “being” state can never become a reality until Jesus is central and our whole life revolves around Him. We must be able to say with Paul that for “me to live is Christ.’ (Gal 2:20)
The last thing I want us to see is that the disciples were ordinary people! The verse says that they were “unlearned and ignorant men.” There was nothing special about them. Nothing remarkable! The Pharisees could only stand back and scratch their head and think, “How are these guys pulling this off? Where are they getting their boldness?”
These ordinary guys did have one secret, their surrender to Christ. Jesus was DOING something in their lives. This is the key to our BEING state. It is simply allowing Jesus to be what He wants to be within you! Through surrender, you become a stage on which He can act!
How often have you said, “I Can’t”? We think, “I’m too weak, I don’t have the training, I’m OLD, I’m too young!” So we say things like, “I can’t do that.” “I could never share my testimony before others.”
But let me tell you, these are the very people Christ wants and uses! They are the kind He can use most effectively to bring about His Kingdom. It is those who are weak, those who know they “can’t” who most readily rely on Jesus! Their dependency is on His doing!
When that is our attitude – day in and day out – it produces a relaxed Christian life! It removes us from trying and striving into a people of REST! It does not mean that one has less action; rather there is more. But the “action” is not you. It is He who has come to be within you!
The weight of our BEING is on Jesus, not you.
When we let Christ live through us, and our focus is on him, we will be a witness to His honor and glory. After one has become surrendered to Christ, the attitude gets right and when the attitude gets right, the outward act of actually witnessing to a person will automatically follow.
The disciples had been sharing with their attitudes, and so now in verse 14, they have indisputable evidence of the power of God! The crippled man was standing right there! He was their outward demonstration. There was nothing else that could be said. This evidence settled all the arguments!
When we let the Holy Spirit fill us, we will be witnesses and the results will surprise you. They will be God made – not man made!
There are several questions we can ask ourselves:
Do people see Jesus in me?
When trials come – what is my attitude?
Am I trying to live this life for Christ by my own strength or am I letting Him flow through me?
Have I surrendered my life to Christ and am I letting HIS SPIRIT fill me now?
In our ordinary way, a life surrendered to Jesus is all the DOING we need.