Summary: One man delivered into the grace of the Risen Saviour can make a great difference in the advance of the Faith.

“Seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.” [1]

God has no secret agents. Throughout the pages of the New Testament are found multiple accounts of men and women who received the Christ as Master. In every instance, those who believed in Jesus as the Messiah were changed, and they quickly sought to identify openly with Him. Philip, astounded at the knowledge this Jesus of Nazareth displayed concerning him blurted out, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God” [JOHN 1:49a]! Nicodemus, attempting to discover for himself whether this Jesus of Nazareth could be more than another religious teacher, was confronted by his own need to be born from above. Because of his faith in Jesus as the Son of God, Nicodemus would be compelled to stand openly against the injustice of evil and unbelief, ultimately demonstrating his true loyalty [see JOHN 7:50-51; JOHN 19:38-42].

After Jesus’ victory over the tomb, the Apostles were emboldened to stand boldly in His Name. Doing the work He commanded and which was expected of disciples, they witnessed many turning to faith in the Risen Lord as people heard the disciples declaring Jesus to be the Messiah. At Pentecost, those who heard the disciples declaring the Word of the Lord were pierced to their hearts, and they cried out in their grief and confusion, “Brothers, what shall we do” [ACTS 2:37]? The answer they received was that they were to repent and be baptized [see ACTS 2:38]. And many who were present on that Day of Pentecost responded by repenting and by being baptised.

From that point a division was witnessed between those who were genuinely converted to Christ and those who were merely attracted to Him. Those attracted sought to attach themselves without accepting the inconvenience that would surely attend identifying with the Risen Lord. And make no mistake, there would be a cost to identification with Jesus as the Master over life. Nevertheless, those who were converted sought to identify quickly with Him Whom they called Lord. One example of this bold identification is witnessed through an incident that receives little comment in the Word; but it is an incident which, upon study, appears as of great importance. Let's study the verse carefully to discover whether God would instruct us through the courage of one man newly converted to the Faith.

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY – The first disciples were Jews and even after the descent of the Holy Spirit they quite naturally continued their observance of Jewish religious custom. The Apostles continued to attend the services of the Temple. On one occasion while Peter and John were attending the afternoon prayers at the Temple, they were confronted by a man crippled from birth. Perhaps they had seen the man before without being particularly aware, as is so very common for healthy individuals. This man had long been carried by compassionate individuals to the gate called Beautiful so that he might beg alms of the pious worshippers entering the Temple.

On this day his appeal somehow penetrated the casual oblivion of Peter and John. Somehow the Apostles heard more than a well-practised appeal for monies as the beggar pleaded. They saw this man as more than a nuisance as they actually paused to look at him. Perhaps you recall how Peter spoke those thrilling words, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you” [ACTS 3:6]. The words are thrilling precisely because we know they presage a gift that is more precious than mere metals, no matter how precious those metals may be in our estimate. This man was about to receive a gift that could never be bought with mere wealth—he was about to walk.

Having spoken the words recorded in our text, Peter reached out his hand to grasp the crippled man by the hand, and that strong fisherman lifted the man to a standing position. We can see this man stand there swaying slightly and momentarily unsure of what had just happened. Aware of a strength that he had never experienced in his entire life, the man began to walk—first, one unsteady step with his hands extended as if to balance himself, then another step, and another. Could it actually be? He was walking; he was moving under his own strength on legs that had only moments before been useless pieces of flesh that were attached to his body.

Things began moving at breakneck speed as the man realised that something momentous, something too wonderful to be true, had just taken place. He was walking! It was not sufficient that the man should simply walk about, however, for the text informs us that this man now was keeping pace with the Apostles as they continued on their way and were about to enter into the Temple. The text tells us that this once crippled man was “walking and leaping and praising God” [ACTS 3:8]. People don’t go to the House of God and run about, leaping and dancing and shouting! It just doesn’t happen. And yet, here was this man leaping and praising God.

The man, freed from the condition that had once held him prisoner, was now clinging to the Apostles. I could suppose that Peter and John were somewhat nonplused by the man alternately clinging to them before leaping about and shouting praises to God. It seems inevitable that the commotion created by this man’s shouts and antics would draw a crowd. The Temple was filled with people, as it always was during the daylight hours, and people were naturally drawn to see what all the noise was about. This was more than the normal sound of worshippers moving through the Temple precincts, so those who heard the raucous shouts would come running to see what was going on.

Good Baptist boys that they were, Peter and John recovered their composure so that they could seize the opportunity that was provided by the growing crowd pushing to get closer so they could see what was happening. The Apostles began to tell their ready made audience of Jesus—how He fulfilled every prophecy concerning the Messiah and of His power to save all who put faith in Him. Peter’s message was succinct and pointed. “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” [ACTS 3:12-26].

Candidly, if you want to stir up trouble, just speak the truth concerning the Christ. That is precisely what happened in this instance. Even as Peter was speaking, others had heard of the hubbub and came running to see what was taking place. And among those who came at this time were some very prominent religious leaders who were not at all pleased at what they found. Oh, being healed and shouting for joy was tolerable enough, but someone pointing to Jesus of Nazareth as the reason for healing? That was just too much for the religious leaders to tolerate! There was a definite limit to their tolerance, and there was no room in their theology to allow anyone to speak of Jesus.

Hearing the message the Apostles were proclaiming, the Jewish leaders were infuriated. So, they haled these disturbers before the highest court of the land, demanding that they give a defense for what they were teaching. The Apostles again repeated their message of life in the Risen Saviour in the event that the religious leaders were somehow uninformed concerning this vital truth. The text notes that the leaders were astonished by the boldness of these simple, uneducated peasants. Though they might have wished to say something against them, they could not, since we are informed, “Seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition” [ACTS 4:14].

Here is a truth that is well worth remembering—one demonstration of the power of the Risen Saviour is worth a thousand sermons! And the evidence of Christ’s power surely could not be denied on that day. Allow me to speak pointedly to you who know Christ as Saviour. Would you change the climate among the churches in this day? Are you tired of the world taking the Faith for granted? Let a few people get saved, openly declaring that Jesus is the Saviour who redeems and transforms and the world will soon take notice. The world may not necessarily be thrilled, but they will no longer ignore the faithful or the message they proclaim.

Let me repeat the truth I am asking you to underscore in your heart—one demonstration of the power of Christ is worth a thousand sermons! One addict freed from the tyranny of chemicals is a powerful testimony of Christ’s saving power. One drunkard changed so that his family is restored and his ability to provide for his little ones is undeniable evidence of Christ’s power. Either the Risen Son of God is able to transform lives or He is a liar. And if He is able to transform a life, then we who have been transformed need to take the admonition of the Psalmist seriously when he writes,

“Let those delivered by the Lord speak out,

Those whom He delivered from the power of the enemy.”


THE CONVERT QUICKLY IDENTIFIED WITH HIS BENEFACTORS. Was this once crippled man truly converted to Christ? The question is of more than mere academic interest. The fact that he not only skipped about in joy but that he was noted as “praising God” in the Temple courts [ACTS 3:8] would indicate that the man recognised that he was the recipient of divine grace and was thus willing to acknowledge God as sovereign over his life. Moreover, the fact that he willingly stood with Peter and John when they appeared before the Sanhedrin, knowing that it was for religious reasons they were compelled to give a defense of their actions and their message, is a strong indication that he believed the message they had delivered the day previous.

It seems strange to one who has openly confessed Christian faith through baptism that anyone would delay such identification when once they have believed. Yet, a surprising number of professing believers seem somehow to wait for what seems an inordinate period of time before taking an open stand as a believer. It seems as though the rationale runs something like this: “I will believe. I will accept Christ and I will be saved. But it is not important to identify with Christ or with His people. Therefore, I will delay baptism and I will delay uniting with His people.” To think in such a fashion is to deny the very truth of Scripture which attests “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame” [ROMANS 10:11]. Refusing baptism is a de facto affirmation that the one refusing baptism willingly receives every benefit offered by the gracious Lord without being willing to share in the spread of the Good News. To refuse to receive baptism is in effect to eat of the Bread of Life or to drink from the Fountain of Life without being willing to tell another where such bread and water may be found. It is to deny others opportunity to enjoy the good things of the Lord. It is to deny the message of grace in life even while attempting to hold it personally.

Let's speculate for a moment. Were there no options available to the man who was previously crippled? Could he not have rationalised his way to silence? To stand with the Apostles would be to invite condemnation and even punishment by the religious leaders, perhaps it would even invite his own family to disown him. It is possible that he knew through an informal network of another man healed by the power of Jesus and the subsequent costs of faith. Being healed carries its own danger! Get healed in the wrong way or through the agency of the wrong person, and the religious consequences can immediately become positively serious! You can’t just get healed and expect the religious elite to accept what has happened. I mean, after all, they weren’t able to co-opt what took place for their own advantage.

Let’s think about this a little more carefully. You will undoubtedly recall how Jesus had on one occasion healed a man born blind. That man had been put out of the Temple, censured by the religious leaders and even left to fend for himself when his parents were questioned by the religious leaders. It was assuredly a petty performance by religious leaders; nevertheless, the consequences for the man who was healed were severe. Here’s the account as John recorded it.

“As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

“The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, ‘Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said, ‘It is he.’ Others said, ‘No, but he is like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the man.’ So they said to him, ‘Then how were your eyes opened?’ He answered, ‘The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” So I went and washed and received my sight.’ They said to him, ‘Where is he?’ He said, ‘I do not know.’

“They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, ‘He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’ Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’ And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, ‘What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’

“The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.’ (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’

“So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, ‘Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.’ He answered, ‘Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He answered them, ‘I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?’ And they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.’ The man answered, ‘Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’ They answered him, ‘You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?’ And they cast him out” [JOHN 9:1-34]. Standing with Jesus would prove costly. I rather suspect that this unemployed beggar in our text could have counted the costs and decided he would not pay. What reasonable person would condemn him for such caution?

Nevertheless, the man we meet in our text had been healed. Forced to accept life without mobility, his world had been turned upside down with one act by the Apostles. This man who was crippled for all his life was suddenly able to stand, to walk, to run, to leap! Those who have never known the restrictions which inevitably attend physical or emotional handicap can never truly appreciate the sense of imprisonment which marks the days of those so challenged. Freed from the bondage of stifling constraint, I suggest that this once crippled man could do nothing other than leap and rejoice, testing both his new strength and his new freedom. Furthermore, I suggest that it was virtually impossible not to quickly stand with those who were the messengers of freedom. Moreover, I cannot imagine that his praise to the Lord was subdued. He was loudly praising the Living God for the grace he had received in the freedom to walk.

Perhaps you have been freed from emotional bondage, or perhaps you have even been freed from some physical constraint. However, the closest many of us can approach understanding the freedom which this man found is to recall the freedom we experienced when we were freed from the bondage of sin. Have we really lived so long in the light of Christ's grace that we have forgotten what it was like to be slaves to sin? Are we really so removed from the initial experience of salvation that we have forgotten the sense of freedom we first felt? Converted to Christ, truly set free from the sentence of death, could we actually adopt an attitude which seemed to say “I can take this or leave it.” We had no choice but to tell others of our faith and to identify with Christ as Lord.

THE MAN’S PRESENCE GAVE VALIDITY TO THE APOSTOLIC MESSAGE. What can one say when he disagrees with the message of grace but he sees the evidence of such grace standing before him? How can anyone long persist in opposing salvation by faith when they see those who are redeemed openly standing before them? Throughout the history of the Faith it has been the presence of men and women whose lives were changed into the glory of Christ that has witnessed against the thought that salvation is not a reality.

How can anyone assert there is no power to save when confronted by one such as Augustine? A profligate and dissipated life was transformed to righteousness and the spread of grace when the young man heard a child’s voice reciting, “Tolle, Lege,” “Take and read.” His tormented mind accepted the message as an invitation to read the Word of God, believing the Gospel as his mother had often encouraged him to do.

How can one believe there is no power to redeem when confronted by the witness of any believer who willingly speaks of received grace and abundant life? It is not only the life which is greatly marred by sin that speaks so powerfully, but it is as well the life even of a child who is spared from such evil through salvation at an early age. Such a person standing boldly with those who first spoke the message of grace has great power.

The author of the Hebrews letter speaks of just such identification when he reminds readers of their initial stand for Christ and for His Church. Encouraging the redeemed, the author states, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,” and let us furthermore “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” More than this, as those redeemed by the Christ, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” and “Let us not give up meeting together … but let us encourage one another” [see HEBREWS 10:19-25 CSV]. They had stood together with those persecuted in earlier days with the result that they had obtained confidence with the promise of a rich reward. All this speaks of the validity of the message.

If Jesus is God, can He not ensure that our open identification with Him, regardless of whatever cost may be exacted from us, will be remembered in the sacred precincts of Heaven. If Jesus is God, will He not ensure that our boldness in standing with Him will be rewarded—if not now, then eventually after He has returned to receive us to Himself? If salvation is actually real, if we are truly saved, should we not consider that “Our light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” [see 2 CORINTHIANS 4:17]? In that case we must conclude that the truth yet remains that “The things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” [see 2 CORINTHIANS 4:18].

To draw back in fear of censure arising from those who are opposed to the Gospel is to exchange the weight of glory for the transient commendation of this world. Don't do that! If you are saved, stand with those who preached the message of grace to you. If you are redeemed, obey the injunction of the Psalmist who wrote:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;

for His steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.”

[PSALM 107:1-2a].

Child of God, determine that you will boldly stand with those who declare the message of grace, refusing to be swayed by the opposition even should such opposition come from family or friends who attempt to dissuade you from open identification with Him who loved you and who gave Himself for you. Your stand with His messengers will serve to lend validity to that message. Who knows but that your bold stand with the faithful will be the means by which some dear soul who has been equivocating concerning faith in the Risen Saviour comes to faith and is born from above.

Permit me to speak pointedly to each one who has believed that Jesus is the Christ. Have you openly identified with Him as He commands? Surely you have heard that those who have received Christ as Lord of life are to identify through baptism when they have believed! After the Spirit of God descended on those first Christians waiting on the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise, they spoke with power of the resurrection of Jesus. When the Jews in Jerusalem heard this message of grace, the cried out, realising the horror of their rejection of Jesus as the promised Messiah.

We read in Doctor Luke’s historical account, “When [those listening to the disciples] heard [the message of life] they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” [ACTS 2:37-41].

They were baptised, just as the Lord Himself had commanded all who believe are to do. Jesus charged His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” [MATTHEW 28:18-20a].

When those living in Samaria heard the message of life that Philip preached, they immediately and openly identified with the Risen Saviour. We read in the historical record of the early churches, “When [the Samaritans] believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” [ACTS 8:12].

When Philip had encountered the Ethiopian Official in the desert and had declared the message of life to him, that man requested baptism at the first opportunity. Again, we read in Acts, “As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’

“And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’

“And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him” [ACTS 8:36-38 NASB: 1995 UPDATE].

Lydia, the first convert in the Continent of Europe, was baptised as soon as she believed the message of grace. She led her entire retinue of servants to faith and encouraged them to identify in baptism as she had [see ACTS 16:13-15].

And Paul’s testimony of when he had believed was that he immediately identified with the Saviour in baptism. Ananias urged him, “Why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” [ACTS 22:16].

In all the pages of the New Testament, one cannot find a single example of someone who professed faith in the Christ who then refused to identify with Him in baptism. Those who believed were baptised, identifying with Him as soon as practical. It is only as we turn from what is written in the Word that we find people professing to believe the Christ and yet refusing to identify with Him as He commands through baptism. It is only as we transition from the New Testament model that we find people attempting to make infants Christians by performing a rite and then hoping that these unsaved children will one day come to faith in Christ the Lord. The biblical model is that those who believed identified with the Saviour through the act of baptism. Those who are saved are expected to identify with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Those who are baptised are then to openly identify with His people in assembly. As we read in the account of the great movement of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, you noted that those baptised were added to the group [see ACTS 2:41 GOD’S WORD]. I appreciate the colloquial manner in which the Cotton Patch Gospel handles this verse. “Those who accepted his explanation were initiated, swelling the membership to about three thousand” [ACTS 2:41 COTTON PATCH GOSPEL]. Those who are baptised are added to the assembly, because they confess they have faith in the Risen Son of God.

HIS IDENTIFICATION WITH THE APOSTLES MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE TO ATTACK THEM. I note a sequel to the fact that the man healed identified with the Apostles, and that is that opposition to the apostolic message was diverted. Although the Sanhedrin could not endorse the message without admitting that they were responsible for killing the very Son of God, neither were they able to say anything against the heralds of this message of grace so long as the evidence of Christ's power stood before them. They were reduced to mere posturing and blustering, issuing threats and demands that the Apostles cease preaching in Jesus’ Name. Doctor Luke is careful to note that it was the presence of the man healed which diverted retaliation from the religious leaders.

The issue at this point is not whether Christ does heal—the presence of even one person so restored by His power is evidence that He does heal. When God shows us such mercy, we must glorify Him by telling of His grace and His goodness. Neither is the issue at this point whether Christ can change lives—the presence of even one person openly testifying to such redemption is evidence that He does redeem people from sin. The issue before us is that it becomes impossible to deny the power of Christ when those effected by that power openly stand with the messengers of grace! If Christ has saved you, stand boldly with Him and with His people that He might be glorified.

Was God to gift a man or woman to perform some great surgery which restores sight to blinded eyes, and though the one so gifted was unlicensed to perform such procedure that person graciously performed that surgery without cost to any who came requesting the surgery, would you not consider it a mark of ingratitude for anyone whose sight was restored to refuse to testify in behalf of their benefactor should the surgeon be haled into the courts for a lack of licensure? Though the unlicensed surgeon was culpable of having violated the law, those healed would yet be morally and ethically responsible to speak of the good which the individual had done for them or for their loved ones. If we expect that physical healing implies ethical responsibility, then should we not expect that spiritual healing, restoration of the soul and salvation from sin, implies even greater responsibility?

Despite what is commonly accepted as the expected response to the call to salvation that our Lord gives, there are nevertheless many in our world today who hesitate to openly identify with Christ or even to identify with His people. We are in error if we think that it is of no consequence whether or not we openly stand with Christ's beloved people. We have yet to confront the startling and direct challenge of the Living Saviour who has warned: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” [MATTHEW 10:32-33].

Recall that the Lord went on to say, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” [MATTHEW 10:37-38]. Surely, His words are sobering, perhaps I could even say they are stunning when weighed within the midst of a generation that appears to believe it can take the benefits of salvation without standing for the Christ Who gives salvation.

Allow me to make a dramatic turn in the presentation at this moment. We live in times that are increasingly hostile to the Faith we profess. We are silenced if we don’t agree with the orthodoxy of the world. Perversion has become the new normal and what should be rational and reasonable is hatred. Wickedness is presented as righteous and righteousness is presented as evil in this day. It is precisely as Isaiah warned,

“Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of falsehood,

who draw sin as with cart ropes,

who say: ‘Let him be quick,

let him speed his work

that we may see it;

let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near,

and let it come, that we may know it!’

Woe to those who call evil good

and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,

and shrewd in their own sight!

Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,

and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

who acquit the guilty for a bribe,

and deprive the innocent of his right!”

[ISAIAH 5:18-23]

The powerful and the woefully ignorant of this dying world may ridicule us who have believed as weak and powerless, they may attempt to compel us to agree with their foolish efforts at remaking reality. Nevertheless, what the world cannot do is deny the transformed lives of men and women who are saved. The world cannot deny the bad man made good because of faith in the Risen Son of God. The world cannot deny the power of God to transform booze or drugs into a home and a life for a family. Do not forget that one demonstration of the power of God is worth a thousand dull sermons.

APPLICATIONS FOR BELIEVERS. I dare not conclude the message without making application to our lives as those professing Christ in this day. The challenge to us is that we disregard the siren voices of the world about us that we might hear the voice of the Risen Son of God, the Lord of Life. Are you saved? Have you trusted Christ as Saviour of life? If not, the message to this point has little value for you and you probably cannot understand why there should be any fuss. If there are benefits, you perhaps reason, should you not accept them and quietly retreat into the shadows? Such action constitutes rank cowardice. If the benefits are eternal and beyond comprehension, then how can we accept them without being changed into the likeness of His who gives us life?

But to such as are now believers and who profess to know the Lord Christ I apply these truths. You are saved and you have received His grace, now learn from the man who was healed and stand with those who have declared the message of grace and life to you. By doing this you will honour Him you call Lord and you will validate the message of grace you received. To delay open identification is to deny the lordship of Christ who commanded that those who believed were to be baptized. His command to the Church since His resurrection remains: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” [MATTHEW 28:19-20]. To openly identify with Him is to honour His command.

More than that, to openly identify with Him is to validate the message of grace which you received and which you believed. Does that message of grace change lives? Has your life been changed? Who will believe that you are newborn when you insist on holding yourself aloof from identification with Him? Who will believe that you are a recipient of grace while you yet delay putting on the identifying garment of the child of God, baptism, and while you avoid uniting with His Church?

There is a false profession which seeks to circumvent faith through pious works and even by means of deception; but I believe better of you and so address you as those who have believed though yet hesitating to stand with the servants of God. Your open stand, instead of exposing you to ridicule and opposition, will become the means by which God encourages the saints who love you with a true love and it will serve to verify that the grace God offers is grace indeed. Who today says, “I will stand with Christ and with His Church! Having believed, I will openly stand with Christ through believer’s baptism! I will today place my life in His Church and unite with his people to accomplish His will! God being my helper, here I am this day, Pastor. Here I am, one somebody; or here I am, a family.” Who comes as we stand and as we sing a hymn of invitation today? Amen.

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016. Used by permission. All rights reserved.