The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,…
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,