In Acts 4:29-30, the early church prayed for 2 things: 1) boldness to preach and 2) that the Lord would stretch out His hand for healing, signs and wonders. Should the church today be praying this same prayer?
– Here are some ways to read the OT: 1) civil/ceremonial/moral laws – only the moral laws in the OT are binding for us today; 2) old vs new covenant – Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them (i.e. murder/hatred, adultery/lust); 3) let the NT be the lens in which you read the OT (Hebrews – sacrificial system); 4) use your conscience as a guide (i.e. eating pork); 4) remember the law of love so as not to stumble your brothers and sisters (i.e. watching movies); 5) if you read about an important principle in the Bible, assume that it is still in effect unless the Bible tells us otherwise (i.e. tithing, rich young ruler). How does this pertain to the issue of whether or not we should be praying for healing, signs and wonders?
– Did the miraculous gifts die with the first century apostles? To answer that, read Acts 5:12 and Acts 6, focusing on the life of Stephen. What office did Stephen hold? What does this tell us about signs and wonders in the life of the church today? Are there present day apostles with an apostolic gifting? Or present day prophets with prophetic gifting?
– Acts 4:29-30. Why is it important to pray this way? The key verse of the entire book of Acts is Acts 1:8. We all know the marching orders of Jesus – Great Commission. Yet, why don’t we go out and make disciples? Is it a training issue? Is it because we don’t know what we need to be doing? Why don’t we love one another the way the early church did? Is it because we don’t know that we ought to love one another? Why do we fall short? It’s a power issue. We lack the boldness which comes when power descends from on high. Do you agree?
– To the early church that experienced a demonstration of the Spirit and God’s power, what did they pray for? To the early church that already witnessed healings (40 year old cripple walking) and signs and wonders (angel setting Peter and John free from prison), where miracles seemed rather mundane, what did they pray for?
– How does witnessing a healing or a sign or wonder serve 2 purposes, one for the non-believer and another for the believer?
– If you don’t care about lost souls and all that you care about is your own salvation (i.e. the Holy Spirit as a deposit), then you may never feel a need to pray Acts 4:29-30. But if you care about obeying Acts 1:8, then you will feel a desperate need to pray Acts 4:29-30. Do you agree?
– Let’s not put the Acts 2 church and the first century apostles on a pedestal. God is the same yesterday, today, forever. The gospel hasn’t changed. We have the same Holy Spirit and the same power is available to us. Do you agree that the Christians in the book of Acts are normative, meaning these are not special Christians in a certain era but these are “normal” Christians?
– Statistically, does the fact that conservative Christian denominations are decreasing in number but charismatic denominations are increasing tell us anything about missions and the role of the Spirit?
– One caution from Acts 5:17-18. The early church was demonized by the religious establishment. If the Lord releases healings, signs and wonders here at our church, others who do not share similar experiences, out of their jealousy, will dismiss us, diminish us, slander and ridicule us. How do you see this playing out already in churches across America?