I. "AND GOD WROUGHT SPECIAL MIRACLES BY THE HANDS OF PAUL."
A. There can be no question as to the fact that miracles were a prominent part of the ministry of the early church.
1. This might well bring up the question of why we do not see more miracles in the church today?
2. There are many who are ready to blame God for the lack of miracles.
a. Often the theory is that God used miracles as a means to help get the church firmly established in that skeptical world.
b. Once the church was established and able to build cathedrals and seminaries, they no longer needed the supernatural aspects, but could now persuade men of the gospel of Christ with intellectual persuasion by the better educated ministers.
c. If the purpose was just to convince the skeptical world of the reality of the gospel, I would suggest that we need again the miraculous aspects, for the world is more skeptical of the message of the church than ever.
3. Rather than blame God for the lack of the miraculous, I would rather fault man.
a. I believe that God does not change, and that the Bible is full of miracles both in the Old and New Testaments.
b. Miracles were a very dominant part of the ministry of Jesus, and He often spoke of His works bearing witness of the truth of His message.
c. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
d. Where in scripture is their any indication, or the slightest hint that miracles would cease with the death of the apostles?
e. The gospel of Mark closes with this observation,
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with [them], and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
4. In times past God has had difficulty in finding the right man to do His work.
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
5. It seems that God is always looking for a man.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him.
6. There are many things that can disqualify a man from being totally used by God.
a. An attitude of superiority over others. They often feel that they are doing God a favor by giving their talents to Him.
b. Men who are overqualified. They seem to feel that they are well-qualified to do the job without God's help. This is why God often uses the least qualified individual.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence.
c. The common question of many men who God chose to use was, who am I?
And Moses said unto God, Who [am] I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who [am] I, O Lord GOD? and what [is] my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who [am] I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?
d. Look at the attitude of Paul.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief.
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
And [that] he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
7. It is because of this attitude that God was able to use Paul so effectively.
II. SO THAT FROM HIS BODY WERE BROUGHT UNTO THE SICK, HANDKERCHIEFS OF APRONS AND DISEASES DEPARTED FROM THEM AND EVIL SPIRITS WENT OUT OF THEM.
A. The handkerchiefs were the sweatbands that Paul would tie around his head to keep the sweat from rolling down his face when he was working.
1. We see rather strange methods by which God moved through the apostles to bring healing to people.
a. Peter, it was his shadow cast on people that brought healing.
Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid [them] on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
There came also a multitude [out] of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
b. Here with Paul it was taking his handkerchiefs and laying them on the sick.
2. How can you explain the healings through these unusual means?
a. We remember the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years who made her way through the crowd to touch the hem of the garment of Jesus.
b. The touch brought healing.
c. The pool of Bethseda near the sheep gate in Jerusalem, the water was troubled on certain occasions and the first one into the water was healed.
d. The shadow of Peter.
e. Paul's sweatbands.
3. What was the common denominator among all of the cases? Their faith that when a certain thing transpired, that they would be healed.
a. Jesus said to the woman with the issue of blood, "Daughter, be of good comfort, your faith has made you whole."
b. There was set in their minds a place when their faith would be released. If I can just touch. If the water is troubled and I can be the first in. If his shadow will just be cast over me. When his handkerchief is placed on me.
c. These were all points where their faith would be activated.
4. We have the mystery of the healings at Laurdes in France, or at other shrines. We have the mystery of healings at Benny Hinn's meetings. How are they explained?
a. Jesus said, "According to your faith, be it done unto you."
b. People like Benny Hinn have a way of helping people to release their faith.
c. People travel for miles believing that if they can just get to a certain shrine, that they will be healed.
d. Again they are points of contact where faith is released. In reality it has nothing to do with the person such as Benny Hinn or Oral Roberts, it has to do with the person's faith, which these persons helped them to release.
e. Some of these men are absolute frauds such as Peter Popoff, who was being coached by his wife reading the cards in another room of the person's conditions. He had a small receiver in his ear. He would call people out of the audience and begin to describe their conditions, and they would be healed. In their minds they had set a point for the release of their faith. If or when he calls out my name, I know that God will touch me.
f. The wife of a famous football coach had been attending some classes that I had been teaching on the Holy Spirit. She had been seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit. One night when she got home from class her husband was watching Monday night football so she went into the bedroom to pray and ask God to fill her with His Holy Spirit. Suddenly she heard the sound of a rushing wind, and she received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues. It was only later that she realized that the sound of the rushing wind was when the furnace had turned on.
5. Active faith does not say, "I believe that God can do it," or even "I believe that God will do it some day," but it says, "I believe that God is going to do it now."
6. I believe that the real benefit of being anointed with oil and hands laid on you with prayer, is it gives you that moment to release your faith. I believe that God is doing it now.