Summary: Most words are valuable because they communicate more than facts. They communicate feelings.
A Tour Through Acts ~ part 5
An Awe-Filled Church
Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. (Acts 2:43 NIV)
And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. (Acts 2:43 NASB)
The way we use words is interesting, to say the least. In each generation, there has always been a lingo that has been used to express the feelings of a particular group. Words like HIP, FAR OUT, OUT OF SIGHT, RAD, GROOVY, COOL, BAD, and others like them have all been used at one time or another. And today things seem to be changing so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the current usage. But, a word often loses its impact when it’s over used, and used in insignificant situations. Awesome is a word like this.
There are probably many reasons why a group adopts a certain set of words for its own use, but one reason is that they want to express a common understanding or feeling quickly. These words serve as code words, a kind of short cut of expression. And people who are part of the "in" group that uses these expressions know exactly what they mean.
The word AWESOME has been used to express a certain feeling about something. To say something is awesome not only means that it is something that by its greatness inspires high appreciation but also reflects how we feel about it. And most of these words used that way are valuable because they communicate more than facts. They communicate feelings — how we feel. And how we feel about things is important to us, sometimes even more important than what we think intellectually.
Feelings are important to us, more important than we like to think. Feelings can literally cripple us physically if they are strong enough. And the reason is that feelings affect our minds. If strong enough, feelings can overwhelm a person. On the other hand, feelings can impact us positively as well. Feelings of confidence have been shown to be the difference in success and failure in athletics. One person who is confident will succeed where another person of equal, and sometimes greater, ability will fail because he lacked the confidence.
Our attitudes affect our relationship with God. Our attitudes do not change how God feels about us, but they do change how we feel about God. And how we feel about God will either enhance or impede our ability to trust Him and receive from Him.
What we see in our text today is an example of the kind of attitude that enables us to see and receive from God. This early church exemplifies the kind of response to God that we need in today’s church.
Signs and Wonders
…many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
One of the first things that jumps out at you, when you read this verse, is the miraculous — the signs and wonders done at the hands of the apostles. We like to focus on these amazing displays of God’s power.
There is something within all of us that likes to be amazed. When I watch a magic show, I am spellbound by wanting to know how the tricks are done, because after all, they are tricks. Anyone can do them if they know how. But the real thrill is the surprise of seeing the unexpected happening right before my very eyes.
We are intrigued by the prospect of seeing signs and wonders. We would like for God to do a few for us. In fact, some would turn God into some kind of cosmic magician to entertain us with a genuine magic show. This is what the religious leaders asked Jesus to do. It wasn’t "show me the money," it was "show me a sign — show me a miracle." But Jesus refused to be manipulated by their self-serving requests. He didn’t do His miracles as entertainment, he’s not a cosmic entertainer, but He did them for a purpose. God still does.
This brings us to a question: Why don’t we see more signs and wonders today? Does God still do signs and wonders? Is there something wrong with our ability to see them? Do we lack the faith necessary for God to work in our midst? What are the explanations for this?
Some people believe that all wonders and miraculous signs passed away with the original apostles. Their theory, known as cessation, is that the miraculous gifts were given to authenticate the message being preached by these apostles. You must remember that this was a brand new message. There was no New Testament section of the Bible in those days. The New Testament as we have it today is the message of those first apostles. They were writing it. So, how would people know that what they were saying is true? The answer, the cessationist gives is that the miracles served this purpose. During the establishment of the early church miracles happened. And then after the church was established and the New Testament completed, the miracles ceased. So now, we are to believe by faith in the authenticated word recorded on the pages of the New Testament. This is one theory.