Summary: In this passage we see Authentic Christian in Action - 1. In the Sacrificial Life of Tabitha, 2. In the Faith/Love of Joppa's disciples and 3. In the Spiritual Courage of the Apostle Peter
Title: Authentic Christianity in Action
Proposition: In Acts 9:36-43 we see Authentic Christian in Action - 1. In the Sacrificial Life of Tabitha/Dorcas, 2. In the Faith/Love of Joppa's disciples and 3. In the Courage of the Apostle Peter
Grace and peace this morning from God our Father and from Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.
Every now and again, someone will make a statement that causes you to stop for a moment and pause. At first, you may not fully agree with their statement, but the more you mull it over the more you realize that what they said was very powerful. That happened a few years ago during a missions conference where Dr. Stuart Briscoe was speaking. Dr. Briscoe shocked everyone when he stated:
"All that's being done in evangelical Christianity in America can be done with good equipment, modern media, and a few gifted men. Very little that is happening in the church is explainable solely on the basis of God's activity and authority."1
"VERY LITTLE THAT IS HAPPENING IN THE CHURCH IS EXPLAINABLE SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF GOD'S ACTIVITY AND AUTHORITY."
Dr. Stuart's words cause us to pause and reflect. Is his statement true in our surroundings and in our church? Is it true in our lives? Are there things that are taking place in our church and in our lives that can only be explained by God's direct activity and power? Are there things going on that we can only attribute to God and not to our own hard work, fantastic media and personal skills?
In Acts 9:36-43, Luke shares three great events that can only be explained by God's power and authority working in the lives of His Disciples. Overall, we see Luke sharing story after story of how the power of the Resurrection is affecting the greater world around Jerusalem. Faith in Jesus is spreading and lives are being transformed by the Holy Spirit in amazing ways. In our particular passage, Luke reveals to us these three great examples of what Spirit-filled Authentic Christianity looks like in action.
This morning, let's see firsthand how God's power is being displayed:
+ in the sacrificial life of Tabitah/Dorcas,
+in the faith of the disciples at Joppa and
+ in the courage of the Apostle Paul.
Let's understand that the same power and activity that we see here is readily available to us today. In our individual lives and in the life of our church we can experience so many things that can only be attributed to God's power and authority working within and through us.
I. We see God's power displayed in the Sacrificial Life of Tabitha
In verse 36, Luke tells us that this amazing lady was known by two distinct names; Tabitha and Dorcas. Those who spoke Aramaic as their native language called her Tabitha, while those who spoke Greek called her Dorcas. Both names mean "gazelle" signifying that she was to be a woman possessing the characteristics of awareness, agility, beauty and grace.
Why two names? While we don't know for sure, it seems rather obvious that Tabitha was already working with both Jewish and Gentile women in Joppa. Well before the Early Church officially commissioned Paul and Barnabas to evangelize both groups, it seems that Tabitha was already sharing the message of Jesus and meeting the essential needs of both Jews and Gentiles. She had already successfully bridged the gap between the two camps and was well known and loved by both groups. To her Jewish friends she was called Tabitha. To her Gentile friends she was called Dorcas.
Tabitha's story was a familiar one in the Early Church. She believed that the best way to show her faith in Christ was to put it into action. Jesus had gone about doing good and in like manner, Tabitha devoted her life to taking care of those in need around her. In Tabitha, we find a concrete example of what it means to live out a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life. She bore the fruit of the Holy Spirit through her service to the poor; especially to the Jewish and Gentile widows of Joppa. She sacrificially gave her time, her resources and herself to meet their spiritual, emotional and physical needs.
Over the years Tabitha has been given the title of "God's Dressmaker" or "Queen of the Needle". For Tabitha being good meant doing good. She knew what she could do and she did it. She would have whole heartedly agreed with the Apostle James when he later wrote to the Jews of the Diaspora.
"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:14-17)