“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
The Lord’s question is of course rhetorical. Nothing can be more important to a thinking person than securing a blessed eternity with God. In terms of value and significance, all else is put into the shadows by comparison. At this week’s Bible study at the House of Hesed, we read about the healing of the crippled man at the gate called Beautiful (Acts 3:1-9). What struck us the most about this account was not that a notable miracle had occurred (though that is pretty spectacular!), but the profound effect it had. The miracle was a public display of God’s endorsement of the apostolic message. Everyone saw the crippled man walking (Acts 3:9). Everyone knew this was humanly impossible. The healed man was over 40 years old (Acts 4:22), and according to popular opinion at the time, that meant he was beyond the stage where he could reasonably hope for his condition to improve. Seeing that the crowd was memorized by what had happened, Peter and John wasted no time in directing everyone’s attention to Jesus, the real agent behind the miracle (Acts 3:12-16). The Sadducees were incensed that the apostles were using the miracle to endorse their teachings concerning Christ and His resurrection from the dead, which is the supreme vindication of His radical claims (Matthew 12:39-40; Acts 17:31). In an attempt to silence the apostles and neutralize their evangelistic efforts, the Sadducees had them placed under arrest. Unfortunately for the Sadducees, thousands of people who heard Peter and John and saw the miracle believed to the saving of their souls (cf. Acts 1:15; 2:41; 4:14). This is all very instructive. Sometimes seeing a miracle is enough to move a person to place his faith in Jesus (Matthew 12:22-23; John 2:23; 4:48-53; 7:31; 12:10-11). Sometimes it is not (Mathew 12:24; 28:15; John 12:37). Presumably, for some it was needful to see the crippled man healed before they would trust in Jesus for salvation. Graciously, God granted that that exact miracle should be done in their presence. For over 40 long years, the crippled man struggled along in weakness and in poverty. He never could have dreamed that his personal history, with its struggles and challenges, was part of God’s plan to save thousands of souls in a single day. I remember hearing the late Walter Martin share how a missionary couple in Iran lost their young son in a car accident. The village was astounded to see the father perform the funeral. Such strength, they concluded, must have a supernatural source. At long last they believed the Gospel he preached, and many souls were saved. As we endure hard things in this life, let us trust that God is using even these things, no doubt in ways we can’t imagine, to further the Gospel and bring others to glory.
May God bless and encourage you today,