This man was listening to the words of Paul, who looked intently at him and saw that he had faith to be healed.
I. THE SUFFERER AND HIS FAITH.
1. His complaint was congenital, and, according to ordinary ways of thinking, incurable. This brings all the more his faith into relief. It is the very power and property of faith to conquer what seems to reason unconquerable. It is impossible to show that any diseases are in themselves incurable; they may baffle human skill, but not the healing energy of God.
2. "Faith comes by hearing, and bearing by the Word of God." The sufferer seizes on the truth that God is a Savior, and that in him is to he found full, present, immediate salvation from passing ills. Faith realizes the unseen as if it were the seen.
3. Faith recognized by the minister of God. Paul sees that the lame man has faith to be healed. There is sympathy between souls in God. The minister of God's mercy, of Christ's saving energy, is directed to his object, and the object is directed to him. If God has entrusted us with a good to dispense, it will not be long before we find the soul who needs it. So Paul bids the sufferer arise; the word of authority is echoed by the consciousness of new power in the sufferer's breast: he rises, he walks, he bounds with joy. It is a representation of what ever will take place and does take place when true words are spoken to the souls of men. Oh, let us believe in the energies of the soul, by which we may lay hold on Divine power in our own weakness, both that we may receive good and impart it to others!
II. THE EFFECT ON THE MULTITUDE.
1. They thought that they were receiving a visit from the gods. The air of the ancient world was full of such stories. Doubtless the story of Zeus visiting Philemon and Baucis was well known to them. These so-called "myths contain a deep meaning; they are prophecies of the human heart, of that intercourse between God and man which the gospel declares to be the fact of facts in religion.
2. They were mistaken in the mode of the truth. Paul was not Zeus, nor was Barnabas Hermes. But they were not mistaken as to the substance of the truth. They were mistaken in offering worship to men like themselves, but not mistaken in the heart-instinct by which they recognized behind the healing power put forth the energy of God. The understanding may be in error when the heart speaks true. When this is the case, instruction, missionary effort, has always hopeful ground to work upon. The error and unbelief of the heart alone is invincible and fatal.
III. THE CONDUCT OF THE APOSTLES.
1. Their horror and indignation. They rend their garments, and rush into the crowd with exclamations of astonishment and anger. We must be capable of a holy anger if we are capable of a holy love. Worship belongs to the Divine alone. What would the apostles say now to the worship of their bones or other relics, real or pretended?
2. Their clear protest. "We too are men of like passions." Suffering, sorrowing humanity is no object of such honors. To accept them is to dishonor the Divine majesty, and to do injustice at the same time to ordinary humanity. The true teacher will never magnify himself, and will ask for nothing more than serious attention to his arguments and teachings. If the teacher shows that he considers himself on a level with ordinary humanity, the unconverted and self-humiliated will look up with hope of their own deliverance from misery; and the awakened are warned not to confound the imperfections of the teacher with the substance of his message. The treasure is in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
3. True views of God set forth.
(1) He is the living God; and all in the world not derived from him and resting on him is of no value. All worship directed to finite objects misses its supreme mark, and is a vanity, a "nothing." The idol itself is" nothing in the world." "All love is lost save upon God alone."
(2) He is the Creator. This is a thought brought into emphasis in the preaching and teaching of St. Paul, as in his Epistle to the Romans and his discourse on Mars' Hill. Having made all things, he contains all things in himself. Man is his creature; and if man offers even his whole self upon the altar to God, God but receives his own.
(3) He respects the freedom of man. The nations were suffered to walk in their own ways and to work out their own course of life. And in their aberrations they justified the truth and ways of God. Our freedom is our solemn heritage for weal or for woe. No explanation can be found for the dark facts of human sin, except that which goes back to the freedom of the soul to decide between good and evil.
(4) The unfailing goodness of God. The seasons fail not; food and enjoyment are provided out of the abundance of the earth. In every happy and healthy mood of mind the heart breaks into song, and thanks God for the boon of existence. In every sunny scene, every glimpse of pure and healthy happiness and domestic joy, there is the reflection of the "joy of God to see a happy world." "God is wisdom, God is love; " - this is the refrain of the heart true to itself; nor can the occasional discords of bodily pain or mental perplexity mar the sweetness of the music or obscure the clearness of the evidence. - J.
The same heard Paul speak: who...perceiving that he had faith to be healed, said...Stand upright.I. WHAT PRECEDED HIS FAITH? Faith cometh by hearing; but the bearing of what? The gospel (ver. 7). Yes, he declared to these ignorant, superstitious fanatics the very same truths which he spoke to his enlightened Jewish brethren. He makes no difference between the education of his hearers in different places. To Ephesian sorcerers, to philosophic Athenians, to Corinthian merchants, to rustic Leptrians, his only message is the gospel. What, then, was this gospel which Paul preached everywhere?
1. It was a gospel of facts. Every time Paul preached he told the following unvarnished tale: God beheld men lost and ruined. Out of love to them He sent His only-begotten Son, who lived a life of innocence and perfect obedience. He was crucified, rose again, and ascended up to heaven, where He sitteth at the right hand of God, from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
2. There were certain doctrines flowing out of the facts. To wit, that Jesus Christ had offered a full atonement for the sin of His people, so that whosoever would believe on Him should be saved. Then would come the doctrine of pardon, how God could be just, and yet the Justifier of him who believeth.
3. And out of these there sprung certain commands: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shelf be saved." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." "Well," says one, "do you think the world will be turned upside down by this?" It has been and will be again. In vain do men attempt to find a nobler instrument. This is the great battering ram which shall yet shake the bastions of error. This is the true Excalibur, which, if any man knoweth how to wield it, shall cut through joints and marrow, and make him more than a conqueror. Do ye ask, then, where this man's faith came from? It came from Paul's preaching of the gospel.
II. WHEREIN LAY THIS MAN'S FAITH?
1. Paul perceived "that he had faith to be healed." As he listened to Paul he thought, perhaps, "That seems to be the truth; it is the truth; I am sure it is true; and, if so, perhaps I may be healed; I — I — I think I may; I hope I may; I believe I may; from what Paul says of Christ's character, I think He must be willing to do it." Then Paul said to him, "Stand upright on thy feet," and he did so in a moment, for "he had faith to be healed."
2. You say, "It does not appear that Paul had any previous communication with the cripple." Now I know from my own experience that it is no uncommon thing for someone to arrest the preacher's attention. The group of countenances before him might to the first glance of a stranger look confused and inexplicable, as a Chinese grammar to those who know not the language. But a practised eye can learn to read the one as well as the other. The languor and indifference of some; the curious inquiring look of others; the cold, critical attention of more, form a picture which often reacts upon us, and kindles a desire to reach those who, for a brief hour, hang upon our lips. But there will sometimes be one who has faith dazzling in his very eyes, seeming to drink in every syllable, till the preacher becomes as absorbed in that man as the man had been in the preacher. And while he pursues the discourse, he perceives that at last this man has heard the very truth which meets his case. Preacher and hearer, unknown to all the rest of the audience, have secretly saluted each other, and met on the common ground of a vital faith.
3. Shall I describe this "faith to be saved"? You have "faith," but you have not fully exercised it. Now, you believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son? "Yes." That He has made a full atonement? "Yes." That He is worthy to be trusted? You depend on nothing else? "No." Then you only need that gracious command — "Stand upright on thy feet."
III. THE SPIRITUAL TEACHING OF THE MIRACLE AND OF THE BLESSING CONFERRED. Are there not many, who though they have "faith to be saved," are still limping? The reasons may be different in different cases.
1. Some have been so stunned by grief on account of sin, that while they do believe that Christ is able and willing to save, they cannot get a hold of the fact that they are saved. "Stand upright on thy feet," thou trembling sinner. If thou believest in Jesus, whatever thy fears may be, there is no cause for them.
2. Some are still lame, though they have faith, through ignorance. They are waiting for something, they hardly know what, to embellish their faith, or to fortify it with signs and wonders. All that you have to do with is this — "Do I believe in Jesus?" If you do you are saved, Stand upright on your feet.
3. How many, too, are kept lame because of a fear of self-deception. Away with that affectation of modesty, saying, "I hope"; "I trust"; but "I feel such doubts, such fears, and such gloomy misgivings," that is a vain unseemly questioning of God.
4. Others, again, cannot stand upright because they are afraid that if they did begin they would go back again, and so bring dishonour to Christ. This would be a very proper fear if you had anything to do with keeping yourselves, but Christ gives you His promise to preserve you even to the end.
5. Then possibly there is one here who cannot stand upright because of his many sins. Sinner, stand upright on thy feet, for "all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)1. Faith is the one condition indispensable whenever one would receive blessings from God.
2. We must be willing to look for and recognise even feeble faith (Isaiah 42:3). It requires alertness and charity,
3. Christians must instantly honour true faith when they find it, not stop to question, and to search, and to disturb it.
4. He who has greatest faith of his own will detect faith in others most quickly.
5. Our Lord is wont to see faith sometimes when we declare we cannot.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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